Indigenous peoples around the world have repeatedly asked for a more systematic dialogue with United Nations agencies. In response, IFAD has taken a series of initiatives to establish such a dialogue.
The IFAD Policy on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples, approved by the Executive Board in September 2009, includes partnership with indigenous peoples as one of the key instruments to deploy its principles of engagement.
To institutionalize that partnership, the global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD convenes every second February in connection with the Governing Council, IFAD's main decision-making body.
A series of regional workshops lead up to each global meeting, ensuring that the Forum reflects the diversity of perspectives and recommendations gathered from indigenous peoples around the world.
Through these consultations with indigenous peoples’ representatives at the national, regional and international levels, the Forum aims to improve IFAD’s accountability, enhance its development effectiveness and exercise leadership among development organizations. It is a unique initiative within the UN system.
IFAD is not new to such a consultation process. In establishing the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum, IFAD built on the experience derived from its Farmers’ Forum, an ongoing dialogue on rural development and poverty reduction among the organizations of small farmers and rural producers, IFAD and governments.
From IFAD's perspective, the objectives of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum are to:
- discuss the assessment of IFAD’s engagement with indigenous peoples among indigenous peoples’ representatives, Member States and IFAD staff;
- consult on rural development and poverty reduction;
- promote the participation of indigenous peoples’ organizations in IFAD-supported activities at the country, regional and international levels.
The Forum focuses on indigenous peoples’ involvement in the development of IFAD’s country strategies, project design, implementation and monitoring processes, and in policy dialogue and advocacy.These activities help IFAD to implement its Policy on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples and translate the policy’s principles into action on the ground. The Forum also promotes accountability by encouraging indigenous peoples’ representatives to provide feedback on IFAD-supported operations.