Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty



Rome, 18 February 2011 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced the establishment of an indigenous peoples’ forum under the Fund’s auspices, following a two-day workshop that concluded today at IFAD Headquarters in Rome.

Organized by IFAD with the support of the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), the workshop convened about 30 representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations, as well as IFAD staff, to discuss and agree on the directions, scope and the objectives of the forum, as well as how it will be organized, operated and governed.  The forum’s overall aim is to advance the participation of indigenous peoples in IFAD discussions and programmes that have an impact on them.

The group determined that the first global meeting of the indigenous people’s forum will take place in conjunction with the IFAD Governing Council in 2013.

Indigenous peoples, who make up one-third of the world’s one billion extreme poor in rural areas, are among the most vulnerable and marginalized of any group.  Spread over 70 countries and representing diverse cultural backgrounds, they share many common challenges such as limited access to healthcare and education, loss of control over lands, displacement and violations of basic human rights.

IFAD’s special interest in supporting them is based not only on poverty reduction, social justice and humanitarian concerns, but also the value that indigenous people in many cases contribute to sustainable agriculture, especially given the rich knowledge and understanding of ecosystem management that they have.

Welcoming the participants to the workshop on 17 February at IFAD headquarters, Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD said: “the work we do at the forum will be important, but we all agree that it is just one step in a long-term commitment to reaching our dual goals of equity and economic opportunity for indigenous peoples.” 

“It is important that an indigenous peoples forum in IFAD be established so that the indigenous peoples will have an opportunity to share their views and recommendations on how IFAD can respond more effectively to indigenous peoples’ needs, aspirations and priorities” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Convenor, Asian Indigenous Women’s Network and Former Chair of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). “It will also enhance further the partnership between IFAD and indigenous peoples,” she concluded.

Mirna Cunningham Kain, Chair Center for autonomy and development of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua and member of the UNPFII, declared “IFAD’s policy of engagement with indigenous peoples offers an opportunity to address injustice that indigenous peoples has suffered in rural areas in the world and the establishment of an indigenous forum in IFAD is an innovative step, gives us voice and visibility that can and should help change rural development practices in our countries”.

According to Joseph Ole Simel, Chairman of Africa indigenous peoples climate change network and Executive Director, Mainyoito pastoralist integrated development organization in Kenya “IFAD initiative on indigenous peoples forum is a great idea of the 21st century for indigenous peoples”. The forum will assist or an able both indigenous peoples and IFFAD to deal with the problem of underdevelopment in a fundamental way. It will be the engine that will facilitate us to direct our efforts at the root causes of extreme poverty among indigenous peoples,” he concluded.


Press release No.: IFAD/06/2011

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested over US$12.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering more than 370 million people to break out of poverty. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 165 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).