Pueblos Indígenas

Indigenous Peoples at the forefront of the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit: “Indigenous Peoples’ food systems are a game-changing solution to ensure more sustainable food systems”

27/07/2021 - 

During the UN Food Systems Pre-summit in Rome, Indigenous Peoples make visible the value of their ancestral food systems and the challenges that place them at risk. 


FAO and the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems presented the White/Wiphala Paper on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems as an evidence-based contribution to the UN Food Systems Summit. 


Indigenous Peoples raised their voices on day one of the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit. 


Indigenous Peoples’ food systems cannot be characterized according to dominant conceptualizations of food systems or value chains. Our food systems comprise different values, systems of governance and cultural relations to food” highlighted Anne Nuorgam, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.


With a strong participation at the opening session, plenary discussions and different affiliated sessions, indigenous leaders highlighted the importance of their ancestral food and knowledge systems to guarantee their food security.


Our food systems are rooted in our territory and our sacred relation to Mother Earth. Our leadership and knowledge can provide insights on resilience and sustainability, still our contributions are often overlooked in policymaking,” highlighted Myrna Cunningham, Chair of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. 


Indigenous leaders requested that governments and the UN system ensure Indigenous Peoples, their food systems, knowledge and practices are not marginalized in decision-making processes. 


Indigenous Peoples know how to generate food and livelihoods while preserving land and natural resources. Ensuring Indigenous Peoples’ collective and individual rights is a big step towards the preservation of sustainable food systems”, added Stanley Kimaren, representative of Indigenous Livelihoods and Enhancement Partners. 


Furthermore, Indigenous leaders called upon the UN Food Systems Summit to ensure there is space for diverse knowledge systems to converge in conditions of equal respect in the different phases of the Summit. 


Indigenous Peoples, our food systems and our traditional knowledge systems need respect, recognition and acknowledgment. This is the People’s Summit, we are more than 476 million indigenous people in the world and we feed ourselves from our traditional food systems,” emphasized Tania Martinez, Eyuuk jä'äy (Mixe People), University of Greenwich.


Máximo Torero, Chief Economist of FAO, highlighted that ensuring the representation and full participation of Indigenous Peoples in policymaking greatly benefits indigenous and non-indigenous societies.  “Indigenous Peoples have provided us with great lessons; one of them is that if we are looking for more sustainable food systems, we need a holistic approach to food systems.” 


The affiliated session organized by FAO and the Global- Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems provided a space for dialogue for scientists and indigenous leaders to present and discuss the main findings of the White/ Wiphala paper on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems.  


“The White/Wiphala paper provides a plethora of evidence that shows the ability of these food systems to preserve biodiversity, to provide diverse and nutritious diets, and to be resilient and adapt to external shocks, including climatic change”, reaffirmed Gam A. Shimray, Secretary-General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP).


During this affiliated session, panelists urged member states, civil society, academia and private sector to support three main actions: first, ensure interculturality becomes an overarching game-changing solution for the UN Food Systems Summit, addressing education systems, school feeding programmes and food policies. Second, Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and food systems should be represented and able to fully participate in policymaking. Third, funds allocated specifically to, and led by, Indigenous Peoples are needed to implement these policies, to finance research on Indigenous Peoples food systems and encourage the equal co-creation of knowledge.


There is a need for new intercultural knowledge co-production platforms to facilitate dialogue and the co-design of sustainable and resilient food systems, like the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems. It is also necessary to increase investment to research and analyze the potential of Indigenous Peoples’ food systems in the redesign of sustainable food systems globally”, added Polina Shulbaeva, representative of the Center for support of indigenous peoples of the North. 


In addition, Indigenous leaders and scientists agreed that being among the most sustainable and resilient food systems in the planet, Indigenous Peoples’ food systems must be recognized as a game-changing solution in themselves. Otherwise, millions of Indigenous Peoples would see their food insecurity exacerbated and humanity will lose thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and practices on food generation and biodiversity


“Indigenous Peoples knowledge and practices maintained for millennia can tackle ongoing global challenges and contribute with significant improvements benefiting humankind. As Indigenous Youth, we look forward to preserving this knowledge and ensuring it could be transmitted to future generations”, added Jessica Vega, Co-Chair of Global Indigenous Youth Caucus. 



The White/Wiphala paper on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems is an initiative to close the gap, providing constructive and evidence-based contribution to the UN Food Systems Summit. 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.


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

The Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems was endorsed 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 centre and that their food systems are valued and protected.

Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems publications:

-        Indigenous Peoples’ food systems: Insights on sustainability and resilience from the front line of climate change

-        The White/Wiphala Paper on Indigenous Peoples' food systems

-        Indigenous Youth Global Declaration on Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems  

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


-        Indigenous Peoples' food systems & well-being.