Indigenous peoples

FAO calls to respect indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and natural resources

23/04/2018 - 

From 16-27 April 2018, the Seventeenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is taking place under the theme: “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources”. As this theme directly links to FAO’s mandate, FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, delivered a video-message in which he stressed the need to address the extreme poverty faced by indigenous peoples worldwide to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“Despite of the vastness of indigenous peoples’ cultures, spirituality and traditional knowledge, indigenous peoples have not seen respected their collective rights to their ancestral lands, territories and resources, as foreseen in the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples signed in 2007” he said.  

Indeed, while much remains to be done to recognize indigenous peoples’ collective tenure rights, concrete experiences of recognition of customary rights are also in place and where portrayed at the side-event organized by FAO and Rights and Resources: “Indigenous peoples’ communal access to land: tenure rights and country experiences from Asia”.

This side-event provided an opportunity to discuss emerging issues related to collective rights to lands, successful interventions and useful instruments such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT).

Indigenous youth and women: key allies against hunger and malnutrition

In addition, in its statement FAO stressed the key role that intergenerational knowledge exchange plays in ensuring the respect of right to lands, territories and resources and the preservation of indigenous food systems. In this sense, FAO has been working with the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus to ensure that youth are engaged in international discussions around sustainable development and the achievement of the SDGs.

As a result of this joint work, FAO indigenous peoples’ team leader Yon Fernandez-de-Larrinoa announced that: “After working one year with the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, we are expecting in 2019 to have the first session of the Indigenous Youth Forum”. 

Another major feature in this session of the UNPFII was the presentation of the Violet Chair Initiative by UNPFII Chair Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine. The violet chair is a call for action promoted by the Global Campaign “#IndigenousWomen, Visible women” which calls to Governments, organizations and universities to promote the participation of indigenous women in any forum or dialogue space they host in relation to public policies and development interventions. 

This initiative aims at ensuring indigenous women have a voice in decision-making spaces, as such the violet chair serves as a reminder that whenever indigenous women are missing in the conversation around policy-making, a part of the population or around 185 million women worldwide are being left behind and put in a situation of vulnerability. 

The Global Campaign, which is being implemented by FAO, FIMI and NOTIMIA, was further portrayed on Friday 20 during the side-event: “The empowerment of indigenous women to achieve Zero Hunger”. This event featured concerted efforts and recent advancements on the recognition of indigenous women’s rights, in particular with the political Declaration reached during the High-Level Forum “Empower indigenous women to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean”. 

Endorsed by 13 countries in the region, this declaration outlines a joint agenda for Governments, indigenous women organizations and other stakeholders to work towards the achievement of SDG 2: Zero Hunger.  

During 2018, the Global Campaign will continue to raise-awareness on the challenges faced by indigenous women and the need to advance on culturally appropriate policies in the context of food security, nutrition and land tenure. So far, the campaign has gathered the support of 68 organizations from more than 30 countries worldwide. Get involved and help us make indigenous women visible in the fight against hunger and poverty!

Join the #IndigenousWomen campaign!



19 Apr 2018
Statement by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Yon Fernandez-de-Larrinoa, FAO Indigenous Peoples Team Leader, 19 April 2018
 Statement by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Yon Fernandez-de-Larrinoa, FAO Indigenous Peoples Team Leader,  17 April 2018, UN Headquarters

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