Invitation to Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD: How indigenous food systems can help build resilience to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Invitation to Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD: How indigenous food systems can help build resilience to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

Rome, 29 January – The impacts of COVID-19 are disproportionately devastating to indigenous peoples around the world. In many cases, their indigenous food systems have been a source of resilience. This is the focus of the biannual Indigenous Peoples’ Forum this year, where representatives from Indigenous Peoples’ groups from around 57 countries will meet with development organisations and governments to discuss ways to address challenges and opportunities.

What: Fifth global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum hosted virtually by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) with the theme: The value of indigenous food systems: resilience in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. All sessions are open to the media.


Read the full agenda here.

Who: Key speakers include:

  • Janie Simms Hipp, Chief Executive Officer, Native American Agriculture Fund
  • Joan Carling, Member and co-convenor of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Mirna Cunningham, President of the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean 
  • Mai Thin Yu Mon, Programme Director for the Indigenous Peoples Development Programme of Chin Human Rights Organization in Myanmar
  • Mattia Prayer Galletti, Lead Technical Specialist Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Issues, IFAD

The event will open with a message from His Holiness Pope Francis

Where: The plenary sessions, including the final deliberations of the forum, will be webcast at:

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic poses a grave threat to indigenous peoples around the world and is disproportionately affecting indigenous communities, exacerbating underlying structural inequalities and pervasive discrimination. COVID-19 has in fact increased existing hardships for indigenous peoples in terms of their access to food and safe water and has disrupted their local and traditional economies. As lockdowns continue in numerous countries, indigenous communities whose land rights are denied or who do not have self-determination on their territories are not able to exercise control over their food production, losing their livelihoods and reducing their ability to sustain themselves.

In addition, the lack of disaggregated data relative to indigenous peoples’ experiences with COVID-19, combined with the absence of adequate social services in indigenous communities, constitutes a great challenge, resulting in indigenous peoples being left behind in prevention and protection measures as well as in care programmes in many countries.

Nevertheless, indigenous peoples have applied their own solutions to cope with the pandemic. Their lifestyle, food systems, culture and connection to their lands have been a great source of resilience in the face of COVID-19. They have acted using their own traditional knowledge and practices, including voluntary isolation and sealing off their territories, as well as using preventive care measures in their own languages, in order to keep their communities alive.

IFAD Media Advisory

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 518 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub.