FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation

FAO at the Moscow dialogue on sustainable development of Indigenous Peoples

Photo: ©FAO/Eduard Porvatov

On 2–3 November, FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation took part in the Public-Private Partnership for the Sustainable Development of Indigenous Peoples International Forum organized by the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs (FADN), the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), and PJSC “MMC “Norilsk Nickel”.

On the first day of the Forum, Oleg Kobiakov, Director of the Office, delivered his welcoming remarks at the plenary meeting and took part in the State Regulation: Practices and Prospects panel session. He expressed his gratitude for the invitation to this established platform and emphasized the close cooperation with FADN, the Federation Council, RAIPON, as well as the Russian national network of the UN Global Compact.

The head of the FAO Moscow Office noted that FAO representatives were participating in the Forum for the second time. “There are more than 476 million representatives of the world’s Indigenous Peoples in over 90 countries belonging to seven socio-cultural regions of the planet,” Oleg Kobiakov highlighted. “Places of residence of Indigenous Peoples are usually connected with primary ecosystems. Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples is a goldmine of information about ecosystems and food. Indigenous Peoples are the guardians of about 80% of the global biodiversity, and their food systems are highly sustainable and self-sufficient.”

Photo: ©FAO/Eduard Porvatov


Traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples is constantly developing, it is comprehensive, encompassing governance, social and economic accounting, land tenure, family institutions, languages, naming and classification systems in society, practices and experiences of using resources, rituals, spirituality, and holistic worldviews and concepts of well-being that promote environmental management and justice. The systems of Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge are tested, implemented, modified and applied within Indigenous Peoples’ own development process and conceptualizations of what “nature” and “sustainability” are.”

Talking abouttraditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and traditional agriculture, the director of the FAO Moscow Office spoke about the flagship FAO programme Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). “As of today, there are no GIAHS sites in Russia, but active work is underway to prepare such nominations. For example, the nomination of Bashkir wild honey farming is almost ready for presentation, and we are also helping representatives of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to create a presentation of horse herd breeding and pastoralism. I am convinced that the next stage is the nomination of reindeer husbandry, which has served as the activity shaping the lifestyle of the Indigenous Peoples of the Russian North for many centuries,” he added.

Oleg Kobiakov told the audience about the UN Indigenous Youth Forum hosted by FAO this year: “On 17 October, the FAO Headquarters in Rome hosted the 2nd session of the UN Global Indigenous Youth Forum aimed at finding solutions for the problems facing the indigenous youth and ensuring sustainable solutions for food systems in the context of climate change.

This year, the Global Forum brought together over 200 participants, and each of them represented their people and had an opportunity to outline their vision of traditional nutrition and its maintenance in their region through the dialogue with UN experts and development partners.

Russia was represented by the Saami, Nenets, Dolgans, Sakha, and Veps. The young people talked about reindeer husbandry and fishing and the fact that the first Zero Waste movement was actually created by Indigenous Peoples, and that this experience is extremely important for the entire planet.”

“We have a lot to learn from Indigenous Peoples. First, their valuable knowledge combines tradition and innovation. Innovation does not happen in a vacuum. It comes from our civilizational roots, including traditional indigenous knowledge.

Second, Indigenous Peoples’ agrifood systems are sustainable and resilient and contribute to livelihoods in local communities. It is a tradition consistent with sustainable development and maintained for millennia. The true roots and original values of sustainable development are in the communities and best practices of Indigenous Peoples.

Third, the leadership of Indigenous Peoples as the guardians of the global biodiversity and innovators is key for ensuring food security and healthy nutrition in the future,” concluded his speech the head of the FAO Moscow Office.

During the panel session, Oleg Kobiakov spoke about a guideline document, FAO Manual on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC): “The right of Indigenous Peoples to give or withhold consent to development projects that affect their natural resources and way of life is enshrined in the 2016 FAO manual. This document helps FAO employees to develop and implement technical assistance projects of the Organization.”

“The ManualonFree, Prior and Informed Consent(FPIC) sets out the main principles which Indigenous Peoples can use to speak up about proposed interventions on their lands and territories, and do so free of coercion, prior to any decisions being made, and with full information provided.

During the second day of the Forum, Aghasi Harutyunyan made a presentation on the Promoting Socioeconomic Development of Indigenous Peoples: Practices and Potential panel session. He highlighted the milestones in the Organization’s work on Indigenous Peoples: “FAO established the Indigenous Peoples Unit in 2014 and the Working Group on Indigenous Food Systems in 2015.”