Indigenous Peoples

The Coalition on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems gains momentum at its launch and calls upon more members to join

18/10/2022 - 

Rome. The first-ever global Coalition on Indigenous Peoples' food systems was launched at FAO headquarters in Rome, resulting from the UN Food Systems Summit 2021. Seven Member States and Indigenous Peoples from the seven socio-cultural regions of the world called upon the urgency to join forces to respect, preserve and promote Indigenous Peoples’ food and knowledge systems as game-changers for the benefit of all of humanity.

“To build effective global food systems that deliver for future generations we must also ensure they are more inclusive and empower Indigenous knowledge, participation and leadership”,  highlighted Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand in a video message portrayed during the official launch of the Coalition on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems.

Considered among the most sustainable and resilient food systems in the world today, Indigenous Peoples' food and knowledge systems are at risk of disappearing due to a number of factors including extractive industries, displacement, climate change, intensive agriculture and livestock rearing, the commodification of foods and the continued lack of protection of Indigenous Peoples' collective rights.



“I would like to acknowledge all Member States who took the initiative to ensure that this Coalition became a reality. It belongs to Indigenous Peoples and together we will learn how to protect and preserve their food and knowledge systems through the development of appropriate policies”, added Miguel García Winder, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the Rome Based UN Agencies.

The Coalition of Indigenous Peoples’ food systems is made up of seven Member States: Canada, Dominican Republic, Finland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway and Spain, and seven Indigenous representatives from each of the socio-cultural regions of the world. The president of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples chairs the Coalition and the FAO Indigenous Peoples Unit has been appointed as Secretariat.

“The Coalition’s main objective is the preservation and strengthening of Indigenous Peoples’ food systems and its recognition as key systems to inform the transformation of food systems”, added Dario Mejia Montalvo, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples Issues.

Other UN agencies, such as UNEP, UNESCO, IFAD and WFP have joined the Coalition to support the collective work in designing policies and programmes that respect, preserve and promote Indigenous Peoples’ food and knowledge systems at the country level.

Stefanos Fotiou, Director of the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, underlined the important role of this Coalition, the only one resulting from the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit focused on Indigenous Peoples' food and knowledge systems. He highlighted the relevance of connecting with other coalitions to ensure that Indigenous Peoples' perspectives are at the heart of food systems transformation.

Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine from the Kel Tamasheq people and representative of Indigenous Peoples in Africa stressed that Indigenous Peoples are not participating in the Coalition as vulnerable populations, but as rights and knowledge holders to dialogue as equals with Member States, UN agencies, private sector, academia and other stakeholders.

It is time to act: the Coalition opens its doors to more Member States and other stakeholders to join forces and collectively implement its work plan

“Diversity is our strength”, highlighted Phrang Roy, Khasi Indigenous leader and Coordinator of the Indigenous Partnership. “This coalition will allow us to work collectively, so that Indigenous Peoples and Governments change the current dominant narrative and co-generate knowledge and evidence to inform the food systems transformation”, he added.

Máximo Torero, FAO chief economist, stressed the need to support Indigenous Peoples' agri-food systems. "It is essential to recognize the holistic attributes of Indigenous Peoples' knowledge systems and to assess and systematize them in order to learn from them".  He hoped that the Coalition would help countries to reconsider these ancestral food and knowledge systems and to learn and replicate them in appropriate realities and contexts.

The Coalition has established a work plan based on three main work streams: Strategic research and knowledge co-creation; Creating principles of engagement and recommendations with other coalitions and processes; and Communication and engagement; as expressed by Phoolman Chaudhary and Tania Martínez, Indigenous Peoples' focal points for Asia and Latin America, respectively.

“The Coalition will work with nations, within nations and at the international level. Indigenous Peoples live all over the world; therefore, we hope to see more Member States engaged in this Coalition”, added the Ambassador of Norway, Morten Aasland.

During the Coalition's launching event, the Ambassador of Lesotho, Thesele John Maseribane, expressed the willingness of his country to join the Coalition's efforts.

“This Coalition will provide a political voice to Indigenous Peoples in the transformation of food systems”, highlighted Mario Arvelo, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic. “The fact that the Dominican Republic is among the seven founding members of the Coalition indicates that it is not necessary for there to be Indigenous Peoples within its national borders to be a member, and there is absolutely no reason for a country where there are Indigenous Peoples not to join the Coalition. The coalition needs to grow from seven member countries to 194, and Indigenous Peoples’ voices need to be heard,” Arvelo concluded.

Myrna Cunningham, chair of the Pawanka fund, added that the Coalition will allow recovering the umbilical cord between human beings and Mother Earth through the preservation of the food systems of Indigenous Peoples.

“Indigenous Peoples and states have a common history, but we can rethink our common futures through good collaboration”, expressed Silje Karine Muotka chair of the Sámi Parliament of Norway while closing the launching event of the Coalition.

Member states and other stakeholders interested in learning more and joining the Coalition's efforts can contact FAO's Indigenous Peoples Unit for more information.

The launching of the coalition happened at the Boaššu FoodLab, which represents a nomadic tent and mobile kitchen from the Sámi people of Norway. Anders Oskal, Sámi Indigenous leader and Head of the World Reindeer Association, declared the Boaššu FoodLab and Nomad tent in FAO as Indigenous Peoples’ territory. The Nomad tent, with a capacity to host more than 150 people, became a second home to the delegation of more than 50 Indigenous Peoples’ leaders who participated in FAO during the week of the World Food Forum, and the Science and Innovation Forum.

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Launch of the Coalition on Indigenous Peoples' Food Systems