FAO Liaison Office in New York
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65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly - Third Committee
General debate on the agenda item 65: Indigenous Issues



United Nations General Assembly Third Committee
General Discussion on the agenda item 65: Indigenous Issues
by Ms. Lila Hanitra Ratsifandrihamanana, Director, FAO Liaison Office with the UN
18 October 2010

Mr. Chairperson,

Thank you for the opportunity to make a brief contribution to this important discussion. 

Consistent with its mandate to pursue a world free from hunger and malnutrition, and grounded in the utmost respect for universal human rights, FAO approved, August 2010, a Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. The Policy will be launched 26 November 2010, and it will ensure that all due efforts will be taken by the organization to respect, include and promote indigenous issues in its overall work. It was prepared through a global consultative process in collaboration with representatives of indigenous peoples, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, other UN agencies. 

The Policy is motivated by the fact that indigenous communities make up a disproportionate share of the world’s food insecure, and by recognition that indigenous peoples have unique skills and knowledge that may contribute to sustainable and equitable development. 

FAO is also preparing Voluntary Guidelines (VG) to enhance responsible governance of tenure of land and other natural resources. In parallel to the VG process, FAO is also preparing Implementation Guides on responsible governance of tenure for specific thematic areas- one of which will focus on indigenous peoples. In November during the launch of the Policy, FAO will host a consultation workshop to discuss the guides together with representatives of Indigenous peoples and local communities. 

Early 2011, FAO plans to host a Workshop on Gender, Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change. The workshop will look at the social dimensions of climate change in agriculture, with a particular focus on two key dimensions: gender issues and indigenous peoples’ rights. This project is intended to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to bridge knowledge gaps so that FAO and UN partners can deliver more holistic policy advice on climate change within the Delivering-as One initiative. 

Many indigenous peoples are economically poor and live in remote, marginal and risk-prone rural environments. Recent estimates indicate that although indigenous peoples make up approximately 5 percent of the world’s total population, they comprise about 15 percent of the global poor. Overall, indigenous peoples are disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation, politico-economic marginalization, and development activities that negatively affect their ecosystems, livelihoods, cultural heritage and nutritional status. At the same time, indigenous peoples are providers of valuable knowledge and skills which contribute to sustainable development and natural resources management. 

An agenda which pursues global food security, sustainable natural resources management and poverty alleviation cannot ignore indigenous peoples. Furthermore, indigenous peoples must be regarded not only as recipients of much-needed development assistance but primarily as equal partners in development. Indigenous peoples are therefore a critical partner in FAO’s work, and this vital factor is taken into account in the organization’s New Strategic Framework.

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