#ifadips – Indigenous Peoples' Forum wraps up with an action plan

A participant at work during the first global
meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum. ©IFAD
ROME, Italy – The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007, mandates UN Member States to treat indigenous peoples in accordance with all international human rights treaties and conventions. For IFAD and its sister agencies and institutions in the UN system, the most relevant parts of that document may be Articles 41 and 42, which call upon them to provide whatever support is needed – including “financial cooperation and technical assistance” – to ensure the “full application” of the declaration’s provisions.

It was largely on the basis of these two articles that indigenous peoples’ organizations began working with IFAD two years ago to launch an Indigenous Peoples’ Forum. They envisioned the forum as a vehicle for dialogue and collaboration on IFAD-financed operations in their territories.

After extensive preparations, the first global meeting of the forum has convened at IFAD headquarters in Rome. The meeting began yesterday and will wrap up today – but not before participants have drafted and adopted their own declaration, which they are finalizing at a plenary session this afternoon.

Rights and aspirations
The declaration will synthesize the forum’s deliberations and make a series of action-oriented recommendations on strengthening the partnership between IFAD, governments and indigenous peoples. Tomorrow, representatives from the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum will present it to ministers from IFAD Member States at the 2013 session of the Governing Council, the organization’s primary decision-making body.

The recommendations from the forum are expected to highlight concrete steps that IFAD and its government partners can take to ensure indigenous peoples’ effective participation in the design, implementation and monitoring of rural development initiatives. Among many other objectives, the recommendations will also seek recognition of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and the sustainable practices they have used for thousands of years to protect and manage the land. Indigenous peoples’ organizations themselves will likely use the declaration to reaffirm their commitment to working jointly with IFAD and government ministries.

At the opening of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum yesterday, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Tebtenna Foundation in the Philippines said the ultimate goal of the meeting was “self-determined, sustainable development for indigenous peoples.” By articulating their rights and aspirations in the forthcoming declaration and action plan, forum participants are taking an important step in that direction.