Indigenous peoples

The Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit starts a dialogue to bring together scientific and Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge.


01/04/2021 - 

FAO, the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems organized the first exchange of knowledge between Indigenous leaders and the Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit to discuss about the the White/Whipala Paper on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems.

More than 476 million Indigenous People living across 90 countries rely on ancestral bodies of knowledge interweaved with the unique ecosystems where they live. These knowledge systems are mainly oral, and include a series of ancestral territorial management practices, cosmogony and rites that have allowed Indigenous Peoples to generate food without depleting the natural-resources base.

“While scientific knowledge is based on experimentation, Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge is based on years of observation of the entire system. Scientific knowledge is based on more immutable mobiles while the Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge is based on more mutable mobiles providing a more holistic approach”, emphasized Maximo Torero, Chief Economist of FAO.

The exchange of knowledge systems between the Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit and indigenous leaders and scientists, evolved on the basis of the White/ Whipala paper, written to inform the global debate about the transformation of current food systems to make them sustainable and resilience.

We need to connect further knowledge systems from Indigenous Peoples and the science systems of universities and academies and create a platform so that the knowledge sharing happens, not just the science sharing. In the scientific group, we advocate for a world that needs to share more science, for the benefit of people, the sharing of Indigenous knowledge is very much intertwined with science.” Mr. Joachim von Braun, Director of The Center for Development Research (ZEF), at the University of Bonn, Chair of the UN Food Systems Summit Scientific Group.

Led by the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems, the drafting of the White/Whipala paper on Indigenous peoples’ food systems resulted from a process of co-creation of knowledge between academic researchers and indigenous scientists. The paper, gathers contributions from more than 50 indigenous organizations, universities and individuals from the seven socio-cultural regions.

"We, Indigenous Peoples, have organized ourselves to provide inputs to share our knowledge and perspectives of transforming food systems into more sustainable systems for humankind. The UN Food Systems Summit is an important step taken by the international community to achieve the SDGs and Indigenous Peoples can contribute to all five of the action tracks of the summit,” highlighted Anne Nuorgam, Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).

The White/Whipala paper provides insights on the characterization and conceptualization of Indigenous Peoples’ food systems, their key features and the main differences between Indigenous Peoples’ food systems and value-chain based food systems. It also provides a series of contributions and recommendations to recognize, protect, strengthen, and revitalize Indigenous Peoples’ food systems linked to each of the UNFSS 5 Action Tracks.

“Indigenous Peoples, their food systems, their knowledge, and their practices have been and continue to be marginalized in the policy world; this paper will act like a means to bridge that gap “, stressed Ismahane Elouafi, Chief Scientist FAO.

Myrna Cunningham, an Indigenous leader and member of the Steering Committee of the UN Food Systems Summit emphasized the importance ofthe UN Food Systems Summit to be a dignified and respectful place for Indigenous Peoples. “Our food systems are underpinned by their traditional values of having a sacred and caring relation with Mother Earth, this sacred relationship with nature has led Indigenous Peoples around the world to evolve values of consensus building, gender equity and sharing their collective territory", added Cunningham.

As members of the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food System, the Technical Committee that produced the White/ Whipala Paper include the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), the Natural-Resource Institute of the University of Greenwich, Cambridge University, The Indigenous Peoples Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty, Fundación Gaia, Snowchange Cooperative, University of Cambridge, FILACBioversity InternationalMonash University, CINE and Mc Gill University  and the FAO Indigenous Peoples Unit.

 

"Territorial management, traditional knowledge, governance, value systems, spirituality and our collective rights are elements on which we have to rely on and are key to move forward on protecting and promoting the Indigenous food systems” explained Mr. Gam Shimray, Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP).

There were several organizations participating in this first exchange of knowledges between the Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit and Indigenous Peoples, including the UNPFII, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), the Natural Resource Institute of the University of Greenwich, the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty (TIPs), Cambridge University, CINE and Mc Gill University, Crops for the Future (CFF), FILAC, the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems. FAO Chief Scientist and FAO Chief Economist made important contributions in support of continuing the exchange of knowledges between indigenous peoples and the scientific group.

“Indigenous Peoples, wherever they are, have a long historical continuity in their lands and territories. Indigenous Peoples’ food systems can help food systems around the world to build resilience against biodiversity loss, climate change impact and environmental degradation", said Phrang Roy Coordinator of The Indigenous Peoples Partnership and member of the AT4 Technical Committee.

The White/Whipala paper will now go through a final period of comments and edition before its publication. Professor von Braun invited the paper to be posted on the website of the Scientific Group alongside other technical papers informing the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit in July, the Summit in September 2021 and the policy programmes beyond the Summit.

“We hope that this paper starts a process of dialogue at the scientific level that will lead to political and policy repercussions, allowing Indigenous Peoples to share their knowledge at the Summit itself but more importantly beyond the summit”, concluded Yon Fernández-de-Larrinoa, Chief, FAO Indigenous Peoples Unit.

Click here to find more information about the White Paper/ Whipala Paper on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems’ presentation.

More about the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems

The Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems was launched during the 27th session of FAO’s Technical Committee on Agriculture (COAG) in September 2020 supported by the representatives of Argentina, Algeria on behalf of the Africa Regional Group, Australia, Canada, Germany on behalf of the European Union-27, Guinea, Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Russian Federation

It brings together Indigenous and non-indigenous experts, scientists and researchers to establish a knowledge-dialogue that gathers evidence-based contributions on indigenous food systems.   

The Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems is informing policy discussions and research agendas on food security, biodiversity and climate change at local, national and regional level ensuring that Indigenous Peoples knowledge and rights are at the center and that their food systems are valued and protected.

Up today, 18 research, academic, and multilateral institutions whom are working on indigenous food systems have joined the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems, including the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty (TIP), the Sámi Parliament, Gaia Amazonas, the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC), Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment (Cenesta), INFOODS, and the Universities of Massey, Monash, Cambridge, Greenwich (through its Natural Resource Institute: NRI) and McGill (through its Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment: CINE.

More Information:

Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems

Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems publications:

-        Indigenous Peoples' food systems & well-being.

-        Indigenous Peoples' food systems the many dimensions of culture, diversity and environment for nutrition and health.

United Nations Food Systems Summit