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UN Marks 2011 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

9 August 2011: The 17th commemoration of the International Day of the World's Indigenous People took place on 9 August 2011, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, organized by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues DSDP/DESA, the UN Department of Public Information, and the NGO Committee on the Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

The focus of the 2011 International Day was "Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged all UN member States "to take concrete steps to address the challenges facing indigenous peoples -- including marginalization, extreme poverty and loss of lands, territories and resources," and looked forward to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014.

In his message marking the day, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, noted that "the 17 most biologically rich countries, home to more than two-thirds of the Earth's biological resources, are also the traditional territories of most of the world's indigenous peoples." He encouraged indigenous peoples to become involved in the preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), stating that "the diversity of ideas and creative solutions of indigenous peoples needs to be part of this leadership given the inextricable link to improved management of the planet's nature-based assets. Only with the broadest engagement can the promise of Rio+20 be transformed into the kinds of profound and fundamental outcomes that reflect the urgency of a new age."

UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director Irina Bokova noted that indigenous peoples' livelihoods combine cultural and biological diversity, and that they have developed knowledge systems with a unique insight on sustainable development.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General Francis Gurry highlighted that traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions hold potential economic value, which can form the basis for community enterprises and cultural industries and contribute to economic development and poverty reduction.

Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Ahmed Djoghlaf, and the Director of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat, Jan McAlpine, highlighted the important role that indigenous communities play in global conservation efforts. [International Day of the World's Indigenous People Website] [UNEP Message] [UN News Centre Story] [WIPO Message] [UNPFII Webpage] [UN Secretary-General's Message] [UNESCO Message]