Researchers from all Over the World Discuss How to Scale Up Efforts to Protect Indigenous Food Systems

Human Wrongs Watch

ROME (FAO)* – A High-Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food Systems will take place on the 7 – 9 of November in FAO Headquarters in Rome. Experts and researchers from all over the world will gather to present indigenous food systems from different regions and discuss on how to scale up efforts to protect and build on their contributions to achieve the SDGs.


Who are indigenous peoples?

Currently there are more than 370 million self-identified indigenous peoples in some 90 countries around the world. They have made relevant contributions to the world’s heritage thanks to their traditional understanding of ecosystem management.

However, indigenous peoples are among the worlds most vulnerable, marginalized and disadvantaged groups in the world.

Although they account for less than 5 per cent of the global population, they comprise about 15 per cent of all the poor people in the world. To date, there is no universally accepted definition of indigenous peoples.

The diversity between regions and countries, and the differences in background, culture, history and conditions have proved extremely difficult for the development of one single definition at the international level applicable to all indigenous communities.

In accordance with international consensus, FAO will abide by the following criteria when considering indigenous peoples:

  • Priority in time, with respect to occupation and use of a specific territory;
  • The voluntary perpetuation of cultural distinctiveness, which may include aspects of language, social organization, religion and spiritual values, modes of production, laws and institutions;
  • Self-identification, as well as recognition by other groups, or by State authorities, as a distinct collectivity; and
  • An experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, exclusion or discrimination, whether or not these conditions persist.

FAO focal points and indigenous peoples caucus


Greater participation in development processes is a cornerstone of indigenous peoples’ rights. For projects that involve or affect indigenous peoples, FAO will facilitate the inclusion of representatives of indigenous peoples in its consultations and programming cycles, in accordance with the principle of ‘free, prior and informed consent’” (FAO Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.)

In February 2015, FAO organized a technical meeting between indigenous peoples’ representatives with the objective of discussing a joint work plan to implement the 2010 FAO Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

One of the points of this joint workplan is the identification of FAO and indigenous peoples focal points at global, regional and national level with the main objective of facilitating interaction between indigenous peoples and FAO on a regular basis.

To enable this interaction, it was agreed to establish an indigenous peoples’ caucus. This caucus has one representative for each of the seven socio-cultural regions in which indigenous peoples divide the world (Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean, the Artic, Central and Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia, North America, and the Pacific).

The caucus has four main objectives:

  1. Follow up and monitor the implementation of the joint workplan between FAO and indigenous peoples.
  2. Enable the coordination and inclusion of as many indigenous organizations as possible.
  3. Enable an agile mechanism of representation to ensure handing over and follow up by several indigenous leaders.
  4. To communicate with FAO on a regular basis at local, regional and international levels.

Key Facts

  • There are over 370 million indigenous peoples living in more than 90 countries across the world.
  • While they constitute about 5% of the world’s population yet account for about 15% of the world’s poor.
  • There are at least 5,000 different indigenous peoples groups in the world representing diverse cultures.
  • Indigenous peoples have some 4,000 languages, most of them are considered endangered.
  • Most of indigenous peoples live in Asia.
  • Main causes of marginalization of indigenous peoples derive from the violation of their right to their traditional land and territories.


2018 Human Wrongs Watch

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