Around the globe, there are over 70 million indigenous youth. Many face the challenge of striking a balance between their place within their indigenous community and mainstream society in the country where they live. Available data also suggests that this group of young people experience disproportionately high rates of suicide. Their situation, as well as other topics including economic, social and cultural rights and post-2015 development agenda, will be in focus for the upcoming 14th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Taking place at UN Headquarters in New York from 20 April to 1 May, the forum will also address the outcome of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly last September, also known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and the situation in the Pacific region, which is home to a diverse range of indigenous peoples speaking 19 per cent of the world’s estimated 5,000 languages.
“We must make sure indigenous peoples’ rights and priorities are reflected in the implementation of the new [development] agenda,” UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo said as he addressed a panel event in connection with the World Conference last year.
“Data must be disaggregated so that gaps in well-being between indigenous peoples and the rest of the population can be clearly identified and closed. Only then can we truly ensure that indigenous peoples are part of the development solutions and fully benefit from the new agenda,” Mr. Wu added.
Indigenous peoples have consistently called for the recognition of their distinct cultural identities and political status of indigenous peoples – as rights holders and agents of change – in the post-2015 development agenda.
The major group representing them has also clustered its concerns in six main areas: the need for disaggregation of data; rights to lands, territories and resources; free prior and informed consent; special measures that include health, education, etc.; access to justice and redress mechanisms; and participation and representation in decision-making in relevant bodies.
They have also specifically recommended that the negotiations and related processes of post-2015 development agenda ensure indigenous peoples meaningful participation and access to the mechanisms tasked with the development of indicators, national policies, monitoring and evaluation. Within the scope of the post-2015 discussions at the forum, there will be a special focus on hunger and disease.
This year, the session will feature some 85 side events, organized by indigenous peoples’ organizations, Member States, UN entities, intergovernmental organizations and NGOs. Participants at the forum will also be able to enjoy a photo exhibit currently on display at UN Headquarters on “Indigenous Peoples’ Housing and Sustainable Settlements.”