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The Indigenous Peoples' Forum at IFAD

The Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD was established in February 2011 at a workshop in Rome involving 28 representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations from around the world. It is the culmination of IFAD’s engagement with indigenous peoples,  and is meant to provide a voice for indigenous peoples around the world. It is a response to requests by indigenous peoples for a more systematic dialogue with the United Nations agencies.

The Forum builds on IFAD’s Policy on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples (2009),  which in turn was informed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). The Forum also reflects IFAD’s long experience of empowering poor rural communities and its participatory approach to grassroots rural development.

The IFAD Policy on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples envisaged the Forum as a concrete way to institutionalize consultation and dialogue with indigenous peoples aimed at improving IFAD’s accountability to its target groups and its development effectiveness, and to exercise a leadership role among international development institutions.

The Forum is held every other year, in connection with IFAD’s Governing Council in February. It brings together indigenous peoples’ representatives, including board members of the IFAD Indigenous Peoples’ Assistance Facility, selected members of the UN mechanisms dealing with indigenous peoples’ rights, representatives of indigenous peoples’ communities involved in IFAD-supported programmes, and representatives of national and regional indigenous peoples’ organizations.

The Forum is governed by a Steering Committee whose membership consists of seven representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations, one representative of the Indigenous Peoples’ Assistance Facility Board, one representative of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and four IFAD representatives. IFAD serves as the Secretariat of the Steering Committee.

Second Indigenous Peoples' Forum 2015 

The theme of the second global meeting, held in Rome in February 2015, was indigenous peoples' food systems and sustainable livelihoods

Representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations, together with staff of IFAD’s regional divisions, discussed and agreed upon regional action plans for 2015-2016.

The Forum’s Synthesis of Deliberations, which were delivered at the thirty-eighth session of IFAD’s Governing Council, captures the issues, concerns, experiences and lessons shared during the second global meeting, and put forward a series of recommendations for IFAD’s future work.

In February 2015, about 40 representatives from indigenous peoples’ organiza- tions and institutions from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean met at IFAD’s headquarters in Rome for the 2nd  global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Forum at IFAD.

The Forum discussed indigenous peoples’ food systems and sustainable livelihoods. IFAD and representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations renewed their commitment to work together to enhance IFAD’s development effectiveness with indigenous peoples.

Regional Workshops 2014 

The second global meeting of the Forum at IFAD was preceded by four regional workshops organized in late 2014 in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific.

The purpose of the workshops was to:

  1. Exchange knowledge, experiences and good practices on indigenous peoples’ food systems and sustainable livelihoods, traditional productionsystems and biodiversity conservation;
  2. Identify key challenges and opportunities for strengthening these systems as sustainable solutions for the future, and identify key elements of regional strategies for enhancing IFAD’s support to these systems

The workshops also reviewed the progress of implementation of the recommendations and regional action plans adopted at the First Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum.

Participants provided suggestions regarding indicators of well-being for indigenous peoples, related to a series of core themes including land, territories and resources; free, prior and informed consent (FPIC); traditional knowledge, seeds and medicine; and resilience.

Participants from all regions highlighted the need for IFAD to take a holistic approach to supporting and strengthening indigenous peoples’ food systems. This approach should include recognizing traditional tenure, conserving biodiversity, and respecting and revitalizing cultural and spiritual values, such as the reciprocity and interdependence that characterize social and economic relations within and between communities. 

The need to ensure that projects are designed with the FPIC of indigenous peoples was also emphasized. 

Participants recommended that IFAD strengthen the participation of indigenous peoples throughout programme and project cycles.

At the 2nd global meeting in Rome, participants called on IFAD to support initiatives to: 

  • recognize and protect indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, territories and resources, and disengage from projects that negatively affect these rights; 
  • strengthen indigenous peoples’ participation throughout the programme and project cycles; 
  • ensure that free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is systematically and properly sought in the context of IFAD-funded projects targeting or affecting indigenous peoples

They called on governments to recognize and protect indigenous peoples’ inalienable rights to lands, territories and resources and to acknowledge the value of indigenous peoples’ diverse food systems as a key element of national policies and frameworks for sustainable development, food security and climate change resilience. 

Participants in the Forum committed to work with IFAD to document and scale up sustainable livelihood practices, and to build alliances and share good practices with partners that are working on issues related to sustainable livelihoods and food systems.

Among the recommendations put forward in the Forum’s Synthesis of Deliberations was that IFAD disaggregate data and include indicators specific to the situation of indigenous peoples in IFAD’s Results and Impact Management System (RIMS) and Country Strategic Opportunities Programmes (COSOPS), and in project monitoring systems and tools, including in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Panel on Indigenous Peoples and Sustainable Food Systems

The thirty-eighth session of IFAD’s Governing Council, which followed the global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD, featured a panel on Indigenous Peoples and Sustainable Food Systems. 

The panel, attended by representatives of 173 governmental delegations of IFAD Member States, discussed issues related to: 

  • Indigenous peoples’ distinctiveness as expressed in the diversity of their crops and their farming,herding, fishing and hunting/gathering systems; 
  •  The importance of indigenous peoples’ food, culture and agro-ecological systems to food and nutrition security, ecosystem and resource management, environmental health, sustainability and resilience – and as models for the green economy;
  •  The need to recognize indigenous food systems as modern systems that are crucial for indigenous peoples’ economic development and can make invaluable  contributions to humanity’s future; 
  •  The role of indigenous food systems in achieving the  anticipated post-2015 sustainable development goals on food and nutrition security.