Indigenous peoples

FAO urges greater investment and interest in indigenous practices for Zero Hunger

26/04/2019 - 

Potential of traditional knowledge and indigenous food systems for sustainable development highlighted at 18th Session of UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

New York.-“Indigenous traditional knowledge and indigenous food systems are disappearing at an alarming rate with the migration of the youth, the passing of the elders and the lack of recognition of collective rights to land, territories and resources and the lack of respect of Free Prior and Informed Consent”, emphasized FAO during the 18th Session of the Eighteenth Session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).

The central theme for the Eighteenth Session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2019, which is beingheld on the 22 April –3 May 2019 in, New York City, is “Traditional knowledge: Generation, Transmission and Protection”.

Traditional knowledge has been gathered and merged for hundreds of years through observation, trial, error, modification and exchange, constantly passed down from parents to children through oral communication and storytelling.

Through centuries, indigenous peoples’ food systems have proved their sustainability and resilience in face of environmental changes and disturbances.

Within the framework of the International Year of Indigenous Language 2019, Yon Fernández de Larrinoa, Leader of FAO the Indigenous Peoples Team, highlighted that indigenous peoples have devised ingenious and dynamic ways of managing their constantly evolving territories without depleting the natural resource base. “In the path to achieve the zero hunger goal, we need more efficient food production methods and to cease environmentally unsound practices, indigenous food systems can have some of the answers to these challenges” stated Fernández de Larrinoa.

In November 2018, the first High Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food Systems at the FAO Headquarters in Rome showcased in a systemic manner the intimate relationships between language, knowledge, traditional practices, territorial management, ecosystems and indigenous food systems.

Co-organized by FAO, UNESCO, UNPFII, FILAC and DOCIP, the expert seminar was an opportunity to exchange knowledge, understanding and concepts on indigenous food systems.  

Global Hub of Indigenous Food Systems to build on traditional knowledge

As a result of the first High Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food Systems, FAO in collaboration with other organizations, indigenous communities, universities and research centers agreed to extend this dialogue space in the Global Hub of Indigenous Food Systems to share traditional and scientific knowledge. Indigenous food systems’ challenges and indigenous peoples’ knowledge can contribute to the global discussion on how to enhance sustainable food systems and on how to ensure that investment includes traditional knowledge while benefitting indigenous peoples and local communities.

During the 18th session of the UNPFII, FAO announced that this year FAO with the support of a great scientific and indigenous editorial board would publish the results of a two-year research of 11 indigenous food systems at the local level in 7 socio-cultural regions. The results are expected to provide evidence of the significant roles that indigenous food systems and traditional knowledge have in halting many global issues we face today.

In collaboration with Bioversity International, CIFOR, and IRD and other organizations, FAO studied the resilience mechanisms, nutritional values, use of energy and other topics of these 11 indigenous food systems around the world.

18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII 2019)

FAO congratulated Anne Nuorgam for her nomination as the Chair for the UNPFII for the seventh term 2020 – 2022. Also thanking Dr.Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, the Chair of the UNPFII 2017-2019 for being a hardliner in the issues concerning Indigenous Women. Dr. Wallet Aboubakrine played a crucial role in the launch of the Violet Chair Initiative, a Global Campaign for the Empowerment of Indigenous Women for Zero Hunger at FAO.

The Food and Agriculture Organization reiterated FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva’s message that, “Without indigenous peoples, we cannot achieve the Zero Hunger Goal and we will not achieve sustainable development”. Highlighting FAO’s work on Indigenous Food systems and Traditional Knowledge, Fernandez De Larrinoa spoke on the work FAO has been carrying out to better understand Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous Peoples food systems.

During the session, Wednesday April 24, FAO co-hosted a side-event, with UNFCCC, UNESCO, UNPFII, IFAD and AIPP, titled “Climate change effects on Indigenous peoples food systems: The importance of indigenous languages to ensure traditional knowledge”.

This side-event provided an opportunity to discuss Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and the adaptation to climate change. Specific themes discussed include Indigenous Peoples Food systems and the holistic approach to sustainability, maintenance of bio-diversity and the adaptation to climate change; linkages with the importance of Indigenous languages for the livelihoods of indigenous knowledge culture and heritage as a tool of understanding, generating and transmitting the plethora of knowledge accumulated by indigenous peoples.

The discussion provided insights to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on possible forthcoming actions and engagements to strengthen the implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Video footage:

     Yon Fernandez DeLarrinoa - Plenary 9                            Jeffery Sachs - CSD Plenary 9                                   Forest Defenders  - Alec Baldwin 




Statement by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization,

Yon Fernandez- de-Larrinoa, FAO Indigenous Peoples Team Leader

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