Indigenous Peoples Focus on Youth, Health and Climate Change During Annual Gathering at United Nations Headquarters

HR/5241
20 April 2015

Indigenous Peoples Focus on Youth, Health and Climate Change During Annual Gathering at United Nations Headquarters

More than 2,000 indigenous participants from all regions of the world are expected to attend the fourteenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 20 April to 1 May, where Members of the Permanent Forum will engage with indigenous peoples, United Nations Member States, and United Nations agencies.  

Youth, health, and the post-2015 development agenda will be top priorities during the discussions.  Since this is a “review year”, the Permanent Forum will emphasize the implementation of previous recommendations in those areas.  In addition to concrete ways to increase their effectiveness within the United Nations system, the Permanent Forum will also focus on the Pacific region, where climate change disproportionately affects many small islands with sea-level rise, sea temperature increases, ocean acidification, dramatically altered rainfall and weather patterns, and overall temperature rise.

“The impact of climate change, the inability to access appropriate health care, and the soaring youth suicide rates, reflect just a few of the critical issues facing indigenous peoples today,” said Dr. Megan Davis, Chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  “Through our collective work, we must ensure that there is a real difference being made on the ground for indigenous peoples.  I call upon United Nations Member States and United Nations agencies to collaborate with indigenous peoples and to re-affirm their commitments towards indigenous peoples.”

Numerous forces undermine the human rights affirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  These urgent issues include dispossession of indigenous lands, displacement and competition for natural resources.  There will be a whole day dedicated to human rights, including dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, as well as with the members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human rights mechanisms.

The two-week session is opening on Monday, 20 April, at 11 a.m., in the General Assembly Hall, with statements by the Deputy Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, the Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council and the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, preceded by a traditional welcome by Chief Tadodaho Sid Hill of the Onondaga Nation.

Side Events

Over 80 side events are expected to take place during the two-week session, organized by Member States, United Nations entities, other intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organization, the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum and other stakeholders.  A number of events are focusing on indigenous youth and on indigenous persons with disabilities, as well as on violence against indigenous women.  Several training sessions will take place, including on effective and meaningful participation in the Permanent Forum and on special procedures dealing with human rights violations.  Issues related to business practices and extractive industries on indigenous lands and territories also remain in the spotlight.  For a full list of side events, please visit www.un.org/indigenous.

A cultural event with indigenous musicians and dancers — including the Ulali Project (United States), Polynesian Dance Productions (United States) and Chota Madre (Ecuador) — will take place on Tuesday evening, 21 April, at 6:15 p.m. in the Visitors’ Lobby at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Background

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was established by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in July 2000.  The Permanent Forum provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the United Nations system; raises awareness and promotes the integration and coordination of relevant activities within the United Nations system; and shares information on indigenous issues.  The Permanent Forum is composed of 16 independent experts, functioning in their personal capacity.  The outcome of the fourteenth session will be a report that includes draft decisions recommended for adoption by the Economic and Social Council.

Accreditation

Media accreditation is strictly reserved for members of the press, print, photo, radio, TV, film, news agencies and online media who represent a bona fide media organization.  Detailed information on accreditation can be found by visiting www.un.org/en/media/accreditation, or contacting the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit at tel.:  +1 212 963 6934, or e-mail:  malu@un.org.

For media queries, including interviews with United Nations officials and indigenous representatives, please contact Aaron J. Buckley, United Nations Department of Public Information, at tel.:  +1 212 963 4632 or e-mail: buckleya@un.org.

To contact the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, please contact Broddi Sigurðarson, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, at tel.: +1 917 367 2106 or e-mail:  sigurdarson@un.org.

For more information on the fourteenth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, please visit www.un.org/indigenous.

For information media. Not an official record.