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UN Marks International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

9 August 2012: UN agencies addressed the theme “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices” at an event marking the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on 9 August 2012, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The event was organized by the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII), the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), and the NGO Committee on the Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

The event featured a panel discussion, film screening and dialogue with representatives of indigenous media organizations, on topics including the role of media in raising awareness of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), realizing the right to self-determination, and ensuring the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the potential of indigenous voices and media to offer an alternative perspective on development models. Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo and PFII Chairperson Grand Chief Edward John also made remarks. UN agencies and other entities provided written messages and press statements.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) raised concern over activities related to extractive industries taking place in or near indigenous peoples' traditional territories, calling for an approach incorporating consultation, consent and other safeguard mechanisms. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) highlighted the availability of grants through its Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility for local innovations to advance sustainable development in disadvantaged rural communities, and announced a series of regional workshops leading to the first global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Forum in Rome, Italy, in February 2013.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) underscored the necessity of indigenous participation in national, regional and global processes on the post-2015 development framework, and highlighted that the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to be held in 2014 will provide an opportunity to reflect on progress regarding poverty and climate challenges. In a related web post, UNDP raised the issue of indigenous peoples' under-representation in the media, and announced the launch of an online training course and web platform for young indigenous leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean on political communication and rights. Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias highlighted the Aichi Biodiversity Targets' recognition of the importance of traditional knowledge in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova referred to the emerging debate on a new global sustainability agenda as an opportunity for indigenous voices to help identify sustainable opportunities for inclusive and equitable development. In a related web post, the World Heritage  (WHC) highlighted its 40th anniversary theme in 2012, "World Heritage and Sustainable Development: the role of local communities," adding that UNESCO is in the process of preparing a policy with regard to its programs on indigenous peoples. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Director-General José da Silva proposed that the right to communicate be considered “a basic condition” to ensuring equitable and sustainable, self-determined development for indigenous peoples, underlining the value of indigenous voices in discussions about new models of food production, distribution and consumption.

UNEP highlighted the role of radio in promoting and sharing climate adaptation strategies among remote indigenous populations, including practices of water harvesting, reforestation with native species, protection of biodiversity and prevention of forest fires and overgrazing. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General Francis Gurry, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia, and UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin also issued statements. [UN Press Release] [Event programme] [Webcast of event] [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [OHCHR Press Release] [IFAD Press Release] [Statement of WIPO Director-General] [UNDP Statement] [UNDP Press Release] [Statement of CBD Executive Secretary] [Statement of UNESCO Director-General] [WHC Press Release] [Statement of ILO Director-General] [Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work: From commitment to action] [Statement of UNFPA Executive Director] [FAO Press Release] [UNEP Press Release]