Indigenous peoples are on the frontlines of climate change and
participant speaks during the opening session of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum
held in February at IFAD. Some of the main outcomes from the forum will be
presented by IFAD at the Indigenous Terra Madre event in India. ©IFAD/Giulio
Rome, 3 November – Representatives of over 600
indigenous communities from around the world will come together in India to
discuss how indigenous knowledge and food systems can help solve some of the
world's toughest challenges.
From 3 to 7 November, IFAD will be participating
in Indigenous Terra
Madre in Shillong, India, an event aimed at bringing together
various stakeholders to discuss how traditional knowledge and the sustainable
use of natural resources can contribute to building better food systems.
The timing of the event is critical, as world
leaders recently agreed on the landmark Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) and look to reach a new
international climate agreement in Paris in December.
"Indigenous peoples have an important role
to play, particularly when it comes to sustainability and when it comes to the
relationship between food, nature and humanity, " said Antonella Cordone,
IFAD’s Senior Technical Specialist on Indigenous Peoples.
"This holistic approach is now becoming
universal with the SDGs. However, indigenous peoples were the first to take
this approach," said Cordone.
Indigenous tribes and communities from
Brazil, Central Asia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, Tanzania, Uganda and the United
States will take part in the week-long global knowledge sharing event.
Examples of tribal communities who will be in
attendance include the Sateré-Mawé tribe from the remote Brazilian Amazon and
the Kalenjin community from Kenya's Rift Valley.
The IFAD-funded project North Eastern
Region Community Resource Management Project for Upland Areas (NERCORMP)
in India will also be actively participating in the event and sponsoring
participants from different communities. Eight tribal groups will be showcasing
The event is the result of collaboration between Slow Food, the Indigenous
Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty and the North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS).
IFAD is a key sponsor of the event and a longtime
supporter. In 2011, IFAD also sponsored the very first Terra Madre Indigenous
at Jokkmokk in Sweden.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there is "much to be learnt from
indigenous peoples as we seek to find solutions to the challenges of combatting
climate change" while speaking at a conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia. UN
Indigenous food systems under pressure
Indigenous peoples have a long history of living
off the land and developing food systems that depend on the traditional
knowledge of their local ecosystems.
However, indigenous peoples’ food systems are
under pressure, due to factors such as lack of recognition of land tenure
systems, climate change challenges and the transitional processes towards
Cordone says the key issue for indigenous peoples
is secure land tenure.
"Land is not a commodity to indigenous peoples, it
is intrinsic to their identity," said Cordone.
"It is based on their worldview of Mother
Earth (Terra Madre), which encompasses everything including human beings and
plants. What is on the surface and below the surface."
The second plenary session of the event will
delve into the wellbeing of indigenous communities, and how indigenous peoples
in North East India, Kenya, Nicaragua and Peru perceive their wellbeing.
Cordone says that session will be an opportunity
for IFAD to highlight key learnings and outcomes from the second Global Meeting
of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum held in February which concentrated on
indigenous food systems and how it impacts overall wellbeing.
Much to be learnt from indigenous peoples
With global temperatures rising and food security
becoming increasingly unstable, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
recently announced that it has never been more important to listen to
"Indigenous peoples globally are among the
world’s most vulnerable and marginalized people,” said Ki-moon, in a speech he
gave in Bolivia at the Peoples World
Conference on Climate Change and the Defence of Life.
“Yet their history, traditions, languages and
knowledge are part of the very bedrock of human heritage,” he continued. “There
is much to be learnt from indigenous peoples as we seek to find solutions to
the challenges of combatting climate change and managing Mother Earth’s
resources in a sustainable way.”
Ki-moon added that, in many nations, “the poverty
gap between indigenous and non-indigenous groups is increasing,” and that was
unacceptable.“As we implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we
must do so in culturally appropriate ways that meet the needs of indigenous
peoples and their conceptions of well-being.”