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Forum leaders call on governments to recognize the contributions of indigenous peoples in the fight against climate change

Languages: English

13 February 2019

Rome, 13 February 2019 – Leaders attending the 4th Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum, held at the International Fund for Agricultural Development's (IFAD's) headquarters, called on governments to recognise indigenous peoples’ contributions in the fight to reduce the impacts of climate change and encourage sustainable development around the world.

The Forum, which included representatives from 30 countries, focused on monitoring and evaluating the implementation of IFAD's Policy on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples and on promoting their participation in IFAD activities at country, regional and international levels, as well as at all stages of project and programme cycles. The Forum supports IFAD in translating the policy's principles into action on the ground.

IFAD's policy on indigenous peoples, which was developed over ten years ago, includes nine principles that underscore IFAD’s commitment towards the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of the organization’s mandate to reduce rural poverty and hunger.

"Indigenous peoples are frequently marginalized, suffer violations of their human rights and are too-often excluded from – and harmed by – development processes," said Indigenous Peoples' Forum Steering Committee Chairperson Myrna Cunningham." At the same time, indigenous peoples have demonstrated resilience to preserve their identities,  having maintained and adapted their systems and practices to cope with changing circumstances."

She added, "Unless investments and policies ensure that rural transformation is inclusive, indigenous peoples may be further marginalized and impoverished with less access to their ancestral lands, degradation would increase and they would get less livelihood options."

Indigenous peoples traditions and knowledge have great potential to contribute to climate-resilient adaptation techniques for sustainable development, offering solutions to some of the world's most intractable problems.

"Partnership with indigenous peoples is part of IFAD’s DNA, and it has been fortified over the years. Thanks to your guidance, we have improved the design of projects to better meet the needs of indigenous peoples. This dialogue has vastly improved our understanding," said IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo.

"You have much to teach all of us about how to respect, how to protect and how to conserve natural resources," he added. "Your ancestral knowledge, combined with your day-to-day experience of what is happening on the ground, can provide us with valuable lessons in how to adapt to and mitigate climate change and become more resilient."

The final deliberations of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum will be presented to Member States attending IFAD's Governing Council meeting on 14 February 2019.

IFAD has invested in rural people for 40 years, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$20.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 480 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

Press release No.: IFAD/04/2019