Sunday, November 15, 2009

Indigenous Peoples make urgent appeal for food sovereignty

Indigenous Peoples Make Urgent Appeal for Food Sovereignty
Sunday, November 15, 2009
For Immediate Release

ROME, Italy -- Indigenous Peoples arrived in Rome on Friday to participate in the Global Indigenous Peoples' Food Sovereignty Forum, taking place from November 13th to 16th. The Forum is a part of “People's Food Sovereignty Now!”, the Civil Society Organizations' forum, parallel to the United Nations World Summit on Food Security, from November 16th to 18th at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

Indigenous Peoples came from places as diverse as the Amazon rainforest to the Arctic homeland of the Saami to the deserts of Africa, the islands of the Pacific and the mountains of the Himalayas to sound the alarm on the dire effects suffered by their communities from the food crisis. Their communities are the most impacted by hunger and malnutrition, constituting a violation of their right to food. Indigenous knowledge and practices have the potential to improve local and global food security but have not been recognized and have been met with opposition in many cases.

Indigenous representatives shared stories of how they are being impacted by the food crisis. They also identified many causes of food insecurity for Indigenous communities, including the loss of land, territories and resources, the non-recognition and violation of their Indigenous rights, the commodification of genetic resources, environmental pollution and climate change, among others. The representatives stressed the importance of food sovereignty over security, noting their livelihoods and cultures are linked to their lands and territories.

They developed proposals and strategies calling for recognition of their self-determination, their rights and the control of their lands, territories and resources. Indigenous groups called for governments to support their traditional practices, to enable their full and effective participation in all discussion on food security, and to uphold their rights. They also called for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to establish a Working Group with Indigenous Peoples in their Committee on Food Security.

Hasina Kharbhih, a Khasi Indigenous woman from India, noted that, “Our Indigenous communities in Asia and across the rest of the world are really suffering right now. All the responses to this food crisis must ensure our peoples' rights and protect our food sovereignty. There has to be a recognition that we are facing some of the worst effects of the global food crisis, but also that we have so much to contribute from our traditional, sustainable and organic methods, and the need for our full participation in all levels of discussions. Our rights as Indigenous Peoples are not negotiable and can play a large role in solving this food crisis.”

The Forum concludes tomorrow with the adoption of a final declaration containing a number of recommendations which will be read at the UN World Summit on Food Security, on November 17th, 2009.

For more information, please contact;
Ben Powless or Hasina Kharbhih at +1-613-614-4219 (English)
Saul Vicente at +52-55-209-545-01 (Spanish)

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