By Laura Arcari
|Participants of Indigenous Peoples' Forum. ©IFAD|
These days as I come to work, my memories go back to my childhood days when as a school girl on United Nations Day I would dress at my whim in either an Italian tarantella dress, Indian sari or Indonesian kebaya and parade around the school grounds carrying a national flag along with all my other schoolmates in various other national costumes.
IFAD is holding its first global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Forum on 11-12 February and whilst externally 169 flags are waving at the entrance gates in anticipation of its 36th Session of the Governing Council, internally there is an exciting environment of mixed cultures as we spot a representative from Amazon Ecuador or a Maya from Guatemala along with 34 other representatives from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean mingling with the staff in the corridors and cafeteria.
Multiculturalism is enrichment for the society as a whole and one of the Forum’s objectives is to put in place mechanisms to share the indigenous people ancestral knowledge in an environmental sustainable manner. One of the messages coming out loud and clear from the forum is the fact that indigenous peoples are not beneficiaries they are strategic partners for creating a better world.
Today the indigenous peoples are paving the way towards a successful outcome for the upcoming United Nations World Conference on Indigenous People in 2014 and the post 2015 agenda as well as presentations on how to increase opportunities for indigenous women as key actors and how to strengthen traditional livelihood, communal economy and knowledge.
As I observe and listen to the deliberations which are at the heart and core of the representatives, I reflect on IFAD’s mandate and am appreciative how much my childhood role playing has conditioned my choices in adult life. I also reflect how much work has taken place behind the scenes to bring people from all wakes of life together to make such events a success.