Global Agriculture

FAO Director-general Highlights Importance of Indigenous People’s Food Systems and Knowledge in Seminar Organized by Holy See

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06 June 2024, Rome: FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today underscored the Organization’s commitment to working with Indigenous Peoples in the Pan-Amazon region, and beyond, to preserve and strengthen their food and knowledge systems and enhance sustainability, food security, climate action and biodiversity protection. 

In opening remarks to a Seminar on Indigenous Peoples, titled, “Amazon: New paths for the Church and for an integral ecology”, organized by the Holy See and hosted by FAO at its Rome headquarters, Qu said that guided by the FAO Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, the Organization is “committed to working with Indigenous Peoples, in full respect of their rights, and for the preservation, strengthening and promotion of their indigenous food and knowledge systems.”

He described these systems as critical for the transformation of global agrifood systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable and said FAO considers Indigenous Peoples as key partners in achieving the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.  

FAO initiatives

Yet Indigenous Peoples continue to make up a large portion of the world’s food insecure population and the FAO DIrector-General outlined key initiatives by the Organization to help address that dynamic.

These include the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocentric Restoration Initiative, which recognizes Indigenous Peoples as custodians of biodiversity. FAO developed this approach together with Indigenous representatives, to restore degraded ecosystems through Indigenous People-led processes rooted in their spiritual beliefs and food and Indigenous knowledge systems. In the Pan-Amazon region of 34 million people, many of whom belong to about 420 Indigenous communities. In this region, FAO is currently supporting such initiatives in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.

In recognition of the importance of Indigenous Youth in the fight against hunger, in October 2023, FAO co-organized the 2nd Session of the biennial UN Global Indigenous Youth Forum, bringing together 186 Indigenous Youth from 54 countries and 98 different groups to discuss the future of their food and knowledge systems in the context of climate and biodiversity action.

Rome Declaration

That gathering issued a “Rome Declaration on Safeguarding Future Generations in times of Food, Social and Ecological Crisis”, which addressed themes such as the impacts of pesticides, extraction industries and ultra-processed foods on Indigenous Peoples; the protection of Indigenous plant genetic resources; and the importance of Indigenous-led education.

FAO is committed to continue working with Indigenous Youth and listening to their recommendations, Qu stressed.

Today’s seminar aimed to refocus attention on the Pan-Amazon Region, highlighting the work of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, which took place in the Vatican in 2019 and catalyzed more than 260 events in the Amazon territory together with an Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonía, from Pope Francis in 2020.

Other participants in today’s event included Cardinal Michael Czerny S.J., Prefect, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno SI, President, Amazonian Ecclesial Conference- CEAMA , Jesica Patiachi, Vice President, Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network- REPAM;; Sr. Laura Vicuña, Vice President, Amazonian Ecclesial Conference- CEAMA; Jyotsna Puri, Associate Vice President, Strategy and Knowledge Department, International Fund for Agriculture Development -IFAD; Mgr. Fernando Chica Arellano, Permanent Observer, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to FAO.

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