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FAO participates in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The International Year of Family Farming and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure an opportunity for indigenous peoples’ engagement

A side event at the 12th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York brought together a panel of FAO experts, indigenous peoples leaders from Asia and Latin America and the Government of Philippines. The panellists presented the critical linkages between the Voluntary Guidelines on tenure, and how inclusive tenure of land, fisheries and forests is at the core of family farming. Quoting Victoria Tauli-Corpuz from the Asian Indigenous Caucus” Indigenous peoples have been doing family farming for millennia, for generations. Indeed whether through communal or family management of the natural resources, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture for sustainable food production practiced by indigenous peoples”.

The event increased awareness on the importance of the Voluntary Guidelines and its significance for indigenous peoples. Andrea Carmen from the International Indian Treaty Council, explained how indigenous peoples actively participated during the formulation. “Indigenous peoples demands and aspirations were incorporated into the voluntary guidelines, reflecting the importance of guaranteeing tenure rights for indigenous peoples, the tenants of traditional knowledge and cultural practices; in harmony with nature and the rights to Free Prior and Informed Consent in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security endorsed in 2012 by the Committee on World Food Security is a landmark document. It serves as a reference and provides key principles, to improve governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests for the benefit of all, but with an emphasis on vulnerable and marginalized people.

The International Year of Family Farming will provide in 2014 a platform to raise global public attention on the contributions of family farming in poverty and hunger reduction and the need for supportive policies.

There is not one single model of family farming, instead a vision in which the family and the farm are linked, co-evolve and combine economic, environmental, social and cultural functions. The debate inform on how for Family Farming to be inclusive and respectful of the needs of the vulnerable, it needs to address common resources tenure and management; as well as traditions and values. It is in this regard that Indigenous Peoples engagement and inputs are fundamental for FAO in this vision

As explained by FAO during the event, “the year will position Family Farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies, identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development of the people, their territories and the need to produce sufficient food and goods for 9.1 billion people by 2050”.

FAO estimates there are 1.5 billion women and men farmers working on 404 million farms of less than two hectares. The side event revealed that 410 million people are gathering the harvests of forests and savannahs, between 100 and 200 million are pastoralists, 100 million are small-scale fishers and 370 million belong to indigenous communities with a great majority of them engaged in agriculture. They produce 70 percent of the world’s food To provide an example of its importance, in Central America about 75-80% of corn and beans is produced by family farmers

The participants in the side event shared their views and perspectives on the impact both the Guidelines and the International Year can have on the livelihoods of indigenous peoples’ and local communities. For the first time the side event provided a forum for an open exchange between government, FAO and indigenous peoples’ organizations on the key issues for moving forward in partnership to implement the Guidelines and promote the international year.