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Keynote address by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, at the Islamic Development Bank Governors’ Forum

Islamic Development Bank 44th meeting: Transformation in a fast changing world - the road to SDGs

Location: Marrakech, Morocco

05 April 2019

How Indigenous Youth Integrate Traditional Knowledge, Innovation and Technology

IFAD and the Indigenous Peoples Forum



Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honour to be here for the 44th meeting of the Islamic Development Bank and to address this Forum.

I would like to thank the Islamic Development Bank, and also our colleagues at FAO co-organizing this event, which highlights the partnership between IsDB, FAO, and IFAD.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to share IFAD’s work and experience with the Indigenous Peoples and interaction through the Forum we jointly hold every two years.

For more than 40 years, IFAD has been dedicated to investing in and advocating for poor rural people in order to end hunger and poverty through rural transformation.

Indigenous Peoples are only 5 per cent of the world population, but 15 per cent of the world’s poorest. As such, they were identified almost 30 years ago as a priority group in IFAD’s work to end poverty and hunger.

Today, 30 per cent of our ongoing projects support Indigenous Peoples’ communities. These projects are spread across 38 countries, with a total investment of about US$800 million.

In 2009, our board approved IFAD’s landmark Indigenous Peoples’ Policy, along with two concrete instruments aimed at translating principles into actions.

The first of these instruments was the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum; the second was the Indigenous Peoples’ Assistance Facility.

At IFAD, we believe that any process of rural transformation has to be undertaken in partnership with indigenous and local populations. That is the only way to ensure rural transformation is inclusive and based on consent.

The Indigenous Peoples Forum at IFAD was established in 2011 with the objective of building and strengthening partnerships between IFAD and indigenous peoples to help address poverty and sustainable development with culture and identity.

The Forum is run by a steering committee made up of Indigenous Peoples. Its findings then feed into IFAD’s Governing Council and contribute also to the design of projects in our borrowing member states.

IFAD has now hosted four Indigenous Peoples’ Forums over the past eight years. The last one was held in February.

The topic was "promoting indigenous peoples’ knowledge and innovation for climate resilience and sustainable development".

Indigenous Peoples are custodians of 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. Environmental protection is typically far better in territories belonging to and managed by Indigenous Peoples. For example, the rate of deforestation in the territories of the Brazilian Amazon belonging to Indigenous Peoples is less than one-tenth of the rest of the region.

They have much to teach us about how to respect, protect, and conserve natural resources. Their ancestral knowledge is particularly valuable at a time when communities around the world are trying to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

And here, let me emphasize the role of indigenous youth. The transfer of inter-generational knowledge is an established tradition in many indigenous communities. And young people are the best channels to match traditional knowledge with innovation and technology because, like young people the world over, indigenous youth are more engaged than their parents with social media.

Indigenous Peoples have knowledge of traditional foods that are rich in nutrients -- and agriculture of the 21st century can learn from their sustainable and holistic practices. We will need indigenous youth to document and share evidence, for the benefit of all of us.

IFAD was very pleased to have Dr. Hayat as a panelist during this year’s Forum. Her presentation was inspiring. And we are looking forward to furthering our partnership with the Islamic Development Bank on Indigenous Peoples’ issues.

One practical way to do that is though our Indigenous People Assistance facility which channels funds directly to projects that are designed and managed by indigenous communities itself. It is governed by a Board composed of indigenous peoples’ leaders.

Since beginning operations in 2007, about 97,000 people have benefited from 127 projects in 46 counties. Half of the participants were women.

These projects have spanned climate change adaption and natural resource management, land tenure, financial services, women’s empowerment food security, and even community programming and literacy.

But demand is far higher than we are able to meet on our own -- only 5 per cent of the proposals we receive can be funded by IFAD -- which is why we are looking to expand our co-financing partnerships.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the course of the day I look forward to hearing the perspectives of and learning from our partners at the Islamic Development Bank, and of the representatives of indigenous communities. IFAD stands ready to deepen our partnership.

Thank you.