Photo: WFP/Alice Rahmoun

Statement on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Published August 9, 2021

The U.N. World Food Programme Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla issued the following statement for International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, August 9, 2021.

This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples has added resonance for the U.N. World Food Programme, coming as it does on the heels of the Food Systems Pre-Summit here in Rome.

This landmark event reminded us of the importance of including indigenous peoples in the process of transforming the world’s food systems. Indigenous peoples offer hundreds of years of learning and knowledge of the environment, sometimes in the most extreme of natural habitats. Their food systems are based on the principles of reciprocity and collectivism. There is much to learn.

A key message emerging from the pre-Summit is that we need to acknowledge the role of indigenous peoples as leaders in the management of lands and resources and recognize that traditional knowledge is critical for building resilient food systems. To do this, we need to rely on intercultural partnerships and models of collaboration encompassing diverse worldviews.

In various parts of the world, the U.N. World Food Programme targets remote and often neglected indigenous peoples’ communities affected by conflict, disaster and food insecurity. The U.N. World Food Programme works hard in these programs to foster people’s agency by recognizing traditional knowledge and practices. We endeavor to build people’s capacity to protect, manage and restore their own lives and landscapes. In turn, indigenous peoples can benefit from a web of alliances to gain knowledge in meteorology, soil conservation and nutrition.

This year’s theme of Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract is very welcome, as it places attention on fundamental principles that should underpin all humanitarian and development efforts. For the U.N. World Food Programme this means reaching the hardest-to-reach, no matter what, and having a truly people-centered approach to our work, where everyone can meaningfully participate in our programs with full respect for their dignity, well-being and people’s own priorities.

The U.N. World Food Programme celebrates this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples with renewed energy to build diverse coalitions, to strengthen agency, harness knowledge and support indigenous peoples’ rights. Invigorated by the Pre-Summit on Food Systems, we are determined to better identify and prioritize indigenous peoples’ concerns and ensure ever greater inclusion and equity in our work.