Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Panel discussion: Indigenous Peoples’ Priorities for the Post 2015 Development Agenda

Distinguished Co-chairs
Your Excellencies
Distinguished Representatives of Indigenous Peoples
Friends and Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an honour for me to be part of the discussion on indigenous peoples’ priorities for the Post 2015 Development Agenda.  This is a very important issue, and a point of convergence for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs / DESA’s work on sustainable development and on indigenous peoples. 

As the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Coordinator of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, I am tasked with supporting the efforts of the Secretary-General to provide guidance to Member States and others in ensuring effective follow up to Rio+20 and to develop the United Nations post-2015 development agenda.

Development has not always been beneficial for indigenous peoples.  The development paradigms of modernization and industrialization have often resulted in the destruction of the political, economic, social, cultural, education, health, spiritual and knowledge systems of indigenous peoples. There is often a disconnect between these development paradigms and indigenous peoples’ concept of development that is based on their right to self-determination, including their right to development with culture and identity. 

Neither the goals nor the targets and indicators of the MDGs referred specifically to the situation of over 370 million indigenous peoples in the world. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues focused two sessions on the MDGs, and made numerous recommendations to States, the UN system and others to ensure the MDGs respond to indigenous peoples’ specific concerns. 

In a recent e-dialogue on the MDGs undertaken by our department, indigenous peoples pointed out that they had been largely invisible in the MDGs, and reiterated their demands to have their rights and priorities specifically referenced in the new development agenda.  I understand that this was reiterated in the recent consultations carried out by the Open Working Group on the SDGs, and related processes and discussions.

With just one year remaining to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, in many ways, we have been unable to address the development gaps indigenous peoples face. Nearly all available data shows that indigenous peoples fare worse in socio-economic terms than non-indigenous peoples. We must draw upon the lessons learned from the MDGs and we must do better this time around.

Significantly, with the 2007 adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the global community at large acknowledged indigenous peoples’ right to development in accordance with their own aspirations and needs.

As we enter the final stages of defining a new development agenda that takes us beyond 2015, we must be bold and expand our vision.  We have this opportunity to bridge the gaps that the Millennium Development Goals failed to meet. 

We must make sure indigenous peoples’ rights and priorities are reflected in the implementation of the new agenda. 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.

Notably, the outcome document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals calls for the availability of high quality, timely and reliable disaggregated data.

This historic World Conference on Indigenous Peoples allows us to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that indigenous peoples’ rights and priorities are taken into account and are reflected in the development agenda.

The World Conference outcome document is the result of dialogue and cooperation between member states and indigenous peoples. It has resulted in an outcome document wherein Member States make firm commitments to support indigenous peoples’ occupations, traditional subsistence activities, economies, livelihoods, food security and nutrition. They recognize the contributions of indigenous peoples to ecosystem management and sustainable development including knowledge generated through experience in hunting, gathering, fishing, pastoralism and agriculture, as well as their sciences, technologies and cultures. Member states also commit to respect and take into account indigenous peoples’ knowledge and strategies to sustain their environment when developing national and international approaches on climate change mitigation and adaptation. These are all very important in achieving truly sustainable development.

I am pleased that in the World Conference outcome document Member States commit to give due consideration to all the rights of indigenous peoples in the elaboration of the post 2015 development agenda.  Further, that the Secretary General is requested to include in the final report on the achievement of the millennium development goals, relevant information on indigenous peoples.

We must intensify our work to ensure that policy commitments translate into programs and projects that directly benefit indigenous peoples, with their direct participation.

I commit that DESA will make every effort to ensure indigenous peoples and their priorities are taken into full consideration in defining the post 2015 development agenda.

Thank you.