4 May 2017
Sixteenth Session, 14th & 15th Meetings (AM & PM)

Delegates Stress Need to Recognize Ancestral Land Rights, Indigenous Peoples’ Role in Shaping Sustainable Development, as Permanent Forum Continues Session

Without respect and recognition for traditional environmental practices and land rights, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would fail to achieve its full potential to protect the Earth and all its inhabitants, speakers told the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on the penultimate day of its sixteenth session.

Taking up the 2030 Agenda (contained in documents E/C.19/2017/5 and E/C.19/2017/5/Corr.1), delegates agreed that indigenous peoples played a key role in shaping a sustainable future for all.  While legislation in Alaska, United States, had demonstrated that the private sector and indigenous peoples worked well together in development, indigenous leaders in the Russian Federation and elsewhere were defending their rights in court stemming from cases filed against them by gold mining, gas exploration and timber processing corporations, said a representative of Tribal Link Foundation, Inc.

Echoing calls that had been made throughout the two-week-long session, many delegates stressed the importance of the recognition of their rights to ancestral lands.  With regard to the 2030 Agenda, speakers said indigenous peoples’ rights and the Sustainable Development Goals represented a collective road map for common objectives.  Examples were given where corporations were using unsustainable practices that were damaging indigenous lands and causing irreparable harm to the broader environment.  A delegate representing the Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica stressed that around the world indigenous peoples were mobilizing against the contamination of their lands.  To address their struggle, the Permanent Forum should encourage a global campaign to remedy that situation, he said.

Indeed, efforts should be established to follow up on the legal recognition of customary land rights, said a representative of the Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education, speaking for the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group for Sustainable Development.  Elaborating on that point and summing up a general view heard during the discussion, she called upon United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to establish partnerships with indigenous organizations to promote their rights and aspirations and on States to invest in targeted development programmes.

Government representatives shared examples of how they were including indigenous peoples in national action plans.  Many said that including indigenous peoples in discussions that concerned them was essential, with Ecuador’s delegate emphasizing that an inclusive society was a national priority.

Ahead of the general discussion, Irena Zubcevic, of the Division for Sustainable Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, stressed that ensuring no one was left behind was a central goal and those who were further behind must be reached first.

But if no group was to be left behind, all must be visible in data, said Wasmália Bivar (Brazil), Chair of the forty-eighth session of the Statistical Commission, via videoconference.  More work was needed to establish implementation plans and greater investment was needed in the production and utilization of data to ensure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals for all.

During a discussion on the future work of the Permanent Forum, including emerging issues and those considered by the Economic and Social Council, speakers identified areas such as the empowerment of women, the protection of land rights and an examination of indigenous economies.

Delivering statements during the discussions were representatives of Chile, Bangladesh, Guatemala, China, Australia, Mexico, Russian Federation and Brazil.

Also speaking were representatives of the International Indian Treaty Council, Ogaden People’s Rights Organisation, VIVAT International and Franciscans International, Passionist International, Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network, Tribal Link Foundation, Inc., Zo Re-Unification Organisation (ZoRO), Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus, Pahtamawiikan, Congrès Mondial Amazigh, Anishinabek Nation, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, International Native Tradition Interchange, Yamasi People, Tin-Hinan Organization, Ka Lahui Hawai’i, Stichting Forest People’s Programme, United Methodist Church, Fiji Indigenous Peoples Foundation, American Indian Law Alliance, Indigenous Peoples Organisation of Australia, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana, Cubraiti Inc., Assyrian Aid Society Iraq, Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, and the Greater Sylhet Indigenous Peoples Forum.

Representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) spoke.

Permanent Forum members from Cameroon, Peru and the Russian Federation also participated.

The Permanent Forum will meet at 3 p.m. on Friday, 5 May, to conclude its session.


WASMÁLIA BIVAR (Brazil), Chair of the forty-eight session of the Statistical Commission, spoke by videoconference, saying the Commission had adopted a revised framework for indicators in March 2017 and had sent a related draft resolution for consideration by the Economic and Social Council.  The Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals Indicators had made efforts to speed up its work on indicators that would provide guidance on data flows between countries and the international system, he said, adding that all groups must be visible in the data if none was to be left behind.

The Inter-agency and Expert Group had begun to work on data disaggregation, including indicators on indigenous peoples, he said, noting that they had been identified in an effort to find ways to reduce hunger and increase access to education.  The High-Level Group on Collaboration, Coordination and Capacity-Building had examined those important issues during the development of a global plan of action in Cape Town, South Africa, in January 2017 which the Commission had later adopted.  The Cape Town Plan of Action highlighted a number of issues requiring greater attention, he said.  More work was needed to establish implementation plans, as was greater investment in the production and use of data in order to ensure progress for all towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.

IRENA ZUBCEVIC, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said indigenous peoples were mentioned in specific Goals and targets, describing the High-Level Political Forum as the central platform for review and follow-up on the Sustainable Development Goals and a good link by which the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues could advance its priorities.  New and emerging issues must also be considered, she said, noting that the High-Level Political Forum was tasked with considering the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, among other instruments.  Noting the centrality of ensuring that no one was left behind, she emphasized that those furthest behind must be reached first.

HERNAN QUEZADA (Chile) said the Declaration’s implementation had been a guiding instrument for his country, yet challenges existed, including pairing social cohesion and gender equality with economic growth.  A systemic approach was needed to address indigenous peoples’ living conditions, including access to health and education.  Efforts to address those challenges would in turn improve agricultural production and reap further benefits.  Chile had adopted measures to recognize the right to prior consultation with indigenous peoples on a range of issues.

ANTJE KRAFT, of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said indigenous peoples’ rights had been included in programming.  The Programme regarded the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a tool to protect their rights at the national level and inform guidance on national development plans.  At the country-level, UNDP must reach the most remote communities and United Nations Country Teams were already providing support in that regard.

DIEGO SAAVEDRA, Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, said promoting regional information was essential and should include the aspirations of indigenous peoples.  Those peoples were mobilizing against the contamination of their lands and the Permanent Forum should encourage a global campaign to remedy that situation.

NABA BIKRAM KISHORE TRIPURA, Secretary, Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs of Bangladesh, said his department was implementing a significant number of programmes and projects to improve the lives of people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.  It had also drawn up a comprehensive strategic framework for sustainable development in the area, the key elements of which were to ensure peace, stability and governance.  The framework involved putting into place appropriate policies, strengthening institutions and making financial and technical resources available, he said, reiterating the country’s commitment to achieving the Goals by 2030.

JOAN CARLING, Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education, speaking for the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group for Sustainable Development, recommended efforts to be established to follow up and engage with the Expert Group on the legal recognition of customary land rights.  Calling on United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to establish partnerships with indigenous organizations to promote their rights and aspirations, she also asked States to invest in development programmes targeting indigenous peoples.

GLORIA SALVADOR (Guatemala), noting that 41 per cent of her country’s population were indigenous peoples, said her Government would soon undertake a population census that would include disaggregated ethnic and gender data.  She added that it was vitally important for goals and targets related to indigenous peoples to be integrated into the strategies of development bodies.

ROBERTO BORRERO, International Indian Treaty Council, recommended that the Permanent Forum ask States to report on steps taken to develop national action plans.  Those plans should include indicators developed by, and relevant to, indigenous peoples that would address, among other things, rights to traditional lands and resources, self-determination and free, prior and informed consent.  He invited all interested participants to find out more about the work of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for the Sustainable Development Goals.

CHU GUANG (China) said that, for historical reasons, many indigenous peoples in some developed countries still faced discrimination and unfair treatment.  The countries concerned should focus on poverty reduction and economic development for indigenous peoples, guided by the 2030 Agenda.  He added that China, in cooperation with some countries, was involved in projects that hopefully would benefit indigenous peoples.  Such projects were undertaken in line with market rules, he said, suggesting that indigenous peoples enhance consultations with their own Governments to resolve problems that might arise.

ABDIRAHMAN MAHDI, Ogaden People’s Rights Organization, said the Goals were relevant to the survival and well-being of pastoral communities in arid and semi-arid parts of Africa and Asia.  Implementation of the Goals should be streamlined in the case of indigenous peoples, he said, recommending also that a rotating community of indigenous representatives be allowed to participate at all levels of the 2030 Agenda programme.

ODILE COIRIER, Franciscans International, said too many indigenous individuals and communities faced systemic discrimination and denial of rights.  Her organization urged States to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of indigenous peoples as enshrined in the Declaration.  States must also address and remedy the systematic violation of rights emanating from the extraction and overexploitation of natural resources, and protect indigenous human rights defenders.

RACHEL O’CONNOR (Australia) said many of her country’s domestic initiatives went to the heart of the Goals, including efforts to address violence against indigenous women.  Her country was also working closely with indigenous stakeholders to develop reporting processes.  Looking forward to the upcoming High-Level Political Forum, she said that only by addressing challenges together would it be possible to ensure that indigenous people were not left behind.

ELPIDIO PERIA, Passionist International, said well-established indicators must be included in countries and indigenous peoples must be involved at the national and subnational level.  The people “at the bottom” must contribute to efforts that related to them to ensure success.

BYRON OBANDO (Ecuador) said building an inclusive State was a priority and steps had been taken to implement the Declaration.  However, progress was needed in a range of areas.  Efforts had been made in dealing with customary and indigenous law, he said, inviting dialogue with stakeholders on the 2030 Agenda.

PRATIMA GURUNG, Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network, said the 2030 Agenda must, in its goal to leave no one behind, pay attention to indigenous peoples in related efforts.  She reiterated that their participation was essential in national planning initiatives.

VARVANA KORKINA, Tribal Link Foundation, Inc., said the approach to resource use on traditional territories would not change without indigenous peoples’ leadership.  In the Russian Federation, they were limited in their control over their land and indigenous peoples were facing criminal charges that had been filed by corporations involved in gold mining, gas exploration and timber processing.  Those companies were able to ignore or violate indigenous peoples’ rights.  In Alaska, United States, she said, rights existed, demonstrating that corporations and indigenous peoples could work together towards development.

VANLAL DUHSAKA, Zo Re-Unification Organisation (ZoRO), said the Zo nation comprised mostly virgin forests in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.  The international community must lend support to his people to ensure their survival and the protection of their land.  Calling for an end to the destruction of forests, he expressed hoped the Zo people would not be left behind and would take part in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

ANJALI DAIMARI, Boro Women’s Justice Forum, speaking on behalf of Asia Indigenous People’s Caucus, recommended, among other things, that States raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals among indigenous peoples and set up engagement mechanisms to ensure their effective participation in Goals-related processes.  The Permanent Forum should also call upon the Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals, as well as States and United Nations agencies, to include, among global indicators, one that reflected the legal recognition and security of land rights.

PATRICIA ANN DAVIS, Pahtamawiikan, said that only by reframing the conflict between indigenous stewardship and colonial ownership could there be progress on sustainable development.  “We cannot reform anything that was divisive,” she said, adding that a win-lose perspective meant no-win for everybody.

EL MOKHTAR ELFERYADI, Congrès Mondial Amazigh, said his organization hoped that the Permanent Forum would recommend that the Government of Morocco address human rights issues involving the Amazigh people.  Official recognition of the Amazigh people at an official level had had no real effect on the ground, he said, citing among other things land confiscation and resource exploitation.

SYLVIA PLAIN, Anishinabek Nation, said the Liberal Government in Canada had failed to fulfil a promise to reinstate protection for 99 per cent of the country’s lakes and rivers.  Emphasizing a lack of data or reports on water protection, she asked the Forum to look into the situation in her community and elsewhere in order to complement the voluntary reports that Canada would be submitting on its implementation of the Goals.

SAMON THACH, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, said indigenous peoples must be included in all discussions at all levels, as they had specific knowledge and experiences in shaping sustainable development programmes that affected them.  Grievance mechanisms must be developed and States must recognize customary land rights.  The Mekon River Delta region in Viet Nam provided livelihoods, but saltwater farming and other practices were not sustainable, she said, emphasizing that current initiatives were over-exploiting fish stocks, a challenge that needed to be addressed.

ROCIO VELANDIA, International Native Tradition Interchange, said land struggles had persisted for 500 years.  The 2030 Agenda had proposed that no one be left behind, thus support must be given to the world’s indigenous inhabitants.  Only in that way could a real commitment be made by Governments to ensure a world protected for future generations.  At a time when oil pipelines were threatening the environment and indigenous peoples and global warming was increasing, scientists were trying to halt the planet’s destruction and indigenous peoples were also making efforts.

FENMEI LIANG, Yamasi People, recommended that the United Nations High-Level Political Forum held dialogues with indigenous peoples.  She called on the General Assembly to allow indigenous peoples’ to participate in meetings, including those held by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  Turning to the 2030 Agenda, she said indigenous lands were not resources to be depleted.

SAOUDATA ABOUBRACRINE, Tin-Hinan Organization, said a host of challenges and a lack of services for indigenous peoples must be addressed.  To remedy those conditions, she called for indigenous peoples to be included in processes related to the 2030 Agenda.

GERVAIS NZOA, Permanent Forum member from Cameroon, referred to Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/22, which created the Permanent Forum, and its operative paragraphs 7 and 8 regarding the evaluation and review of its work.  He said there was a need to reconsider the operations and functions of the Permanent Forum with a view to better addressing the concerns that it faced.

TARCILA RIVERA ZEA, Permanent Forum member from Peru, emphasizing that indigenous peoples must not be left behind, addressed the question of their participation in the elaboration of the Goals.  It was essential to evaluate the efforts being made so that indigenous organizations could see progress being made, she said, adding that States needed to allow space for participation.

Future Work of Permanent Forum

AYSA MUKABENOVA, Permanent Forum member from the Russian Federation, drew attention to the International Year of Indigenous Languages, to begin on 1 January 2019, and the role of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in its preparation.  She said the International Year would draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the need to protect, maintain and promote them.  Half of the languages in use today will have disappeared by the year 2100, with a majority of them being indigenous languages, she said, emphasizing that the International Year must be the basis for a long-term strategy to maintain and renew indigenous languages at the national and global level.

She said UNESCO should create an online portal that would include information about the preparatory process, as well as a database for best practices, among other things.  Joint efforts should lead to a plan of action on indigenous languages that would be presented to the Permanent Forum at its 2018 session, she said, adding that the Forum called upon States to begin preparations for the International Year, including the provision of funds for relevant events.

JOSÉ LUIS CHEA URRUELA, Minister of Culture and Sport of Guatemala, underscored his Government’s programmes to revitalize indigenous languages, traditional dress, spiritual dance, music and literature.  Guatemala would definitely participate in the International Year, which was an opportunity to come up with mechanisms to protect living cultures.  States should assess what steps should be taken to protect indigenous culture, he said, describing culture as the engine of sustainable development.

MARIE PAULE ROUDIL, Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Liaison Office New York, said the Declaration addressed challenges facing the agency’s efforts to support and promote safeguarding indigenous cultures, languages, knowledge and identity and to provide skills that enabled indigenous peoples to participate fully in national and international communities.  The Year of Indigenous Languages was an excellent opportunity to mobilize partners and resources to support communities in their efforts.

LAWRENCE GORA, Ka Lahui Hawai’i, speaking for several groups of indigenous peoples, recommended the adoption of a convention recognizing their rights and for Hawaii to be put on the list for decolonization.  Oil corporations were threatening the ecosystem and marine life in New Zealand, he said, asking the Permanent Forum to request the Government to stop seismic blasting at sea, align efforts with climate change concerns and address the dangers of assimilation trends among indigenous peoples.

ALBERTO CEPEDA (Mexico) urged Permanent Forum members to take a coherent approach with United Nations system partners to implement the Declaration.  Mexico was committed to working towards that goal.

JOCELYN CARINO, Stichting Forest People’s Programme, drew attention to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and its global assessment, which sought to answer a number of questions.  Among them were examining indigenous peoples’ contributions to the sustainable use, management and conservation of nature at regional and global scales and identifying the most important features, pressures and factors related to enabling those contributions.

TATIANA SCLYCHKOVA (Russian Federation) said her Government had held meetings to address a range of issues.  It was essential to improve data collection during periodic reviews and obtain information from indigenous peoples’ reports.  There was also a need for an exchange of best practices.  Short-, medium- and long-term plans were required.  For its part, the Russian Federation had undertaken efforts to preserve indigenous languages.

RICHARD GROUNDS, United Methodist Church General Board of Global Ministries, said there remained only three elder women in his community whose first language was Yuchi.  However, community efforts had produced 12 young Yuchi speakers, demonstrating how life and health could be breathed into indigenous languages.  With 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and 70 per cent of its linguistic diversity to be found on indigenous lands, he said regional gathers should be organized to celebrate indigenous languages through dance, song and storytelling, leading to a final global meeting at UNESCO Headquarters.

RACHAL O’CONNOR (Australia), affirming her country’s support for the International Year, described its indigenous languages and arts programme, which among other things provided funding to support 159 languages.  She added that indigenous languages had been added to the school curriculum, enabling students to gain knowledge of Australia that could only come through an indigenous perspective.

Mr. SAAVEDRA, Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, recommended that the Permanent Forum promote international reports on the situation of indigenous peoples with input from organizations involved in International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169.  He added that indigenous peoples lacked proper mechanisms for understanding how they could participate in such entities as the Permanent Forum.  He also said a database on indigenous human rights defenders would help deter acts of violence and oppression against them.

VASITI NAILATI, Fiji Indigenous Peoples Foundation, said free, prior and informed consent and the right to determine development efforts must be respected.  About 65 per cent of the world’s land was held by indigenous peoples, but only 10 per cent was recognized as such.  Negotiations between corporations and indigenous peoples must be fair, she said, recommending a number of actions, including the recognition of the intrinsic links indigenous peoples had with nature.

BETTY LYONS, American Indian Law Alliance, said indigenous peoples had the right to self-determination and to full participation on processes about issues affecting them, including within the United Nations.  Extractive industries destroyed the environment, she said, demanding that the World Bank divested from fuel corporations and similarly damaging industries.  Traditional knowledge must be protected, as it strengthened indigenous peoples’ identity.  A monitoring mechanism must be established to examine cases of missing and/or murdered indigenous women.  She also called for all stakeholders to work together to make the Declaration a reality on the ground.

CATHRYN EATOCK, Indigenous Peoples Organisation of Australia, recommended that the Permanent Forum worked on reports on the empowerment of women and on rights to control ancestral lands.  Indigenous women must be included in various forums, as they brought unique, valuable insights and lessons.  With regard to indigenous women facing violence and abuse, she said those issues must be addressed and remedied.

LOLA GARCÍA-ALIX PÉREZ, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, speaking for several groups, raised concerns about the World Bank’s issuance of a waiver for the United Republic of Tanzania that affected indigenous peoples’ rights with regard to a project that aimed at converting thousands of hectares of land into industrial zones.  Indigenous peoples of the United Republic of Tanzania and East Africa had appealed to the World Bank to withdraw the waiver, she said, recommending that action be taken to investigate the matter.

JANENE YAZZIE, International Indian Treaty Council, said indigenous peoples must be included in the development and implementation of strategies on all levels to address climate change.  Traditional knowledge must not be commercialized, she said, recommending that the Permanent Forum took the following steps:  to invite the global steering committee for the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change to report at its seventeenth session and to engage in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process to assist in ensuring the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change recognized indigenous peoples’ rights in all climate change actions.

LAURA GEORGE, Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana, recommended that the Permanent Forum evaluate the achievements of, and impediments to, consultation and participation of indigenous peoples, particularly in the Caribbean region.  Noting how many countries had ratified the Paris Agreement, she said indigenous peoples were being left out of national discussions and decision-making on that issue.  They looked forward to being included in designing ways and indicators to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, she added.

FATHER REY ONDAP, Passionist International, said that, at its next session, the Permanent Forum might consider the possible implications of synthetic biology on the livelihood of indigenous peoples, as well as their sociocultural and ethical impact.  There was considerable disagreement over how synthetic biology would affect biodiversity, wildlife and the health of indigenous peoples, he said, citing the possibility of an international legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations that would be mainstreaming such technology in the near term.

FABRICIO PRADO (Brazil) said the Permanent Forum’s debates could be enhanced by focusing on one specific area.  He also expressed appreciation for enhanced dialogue between the Forum and Member States during the current session, calling it a trend that should be further explored.

GUADALUPE ACOSTA, Cubraiti Inc., said that in the United States, there had been an increase of xenophobia, hatred and violence against people of colour to levels not seen since the civil rights movement.  He asked the Permanent Forum to call for an immediate moratorium on deportations, pending a system that would guarantee respect for human rights and due process.  He also said indigenous people should recognize that brothers and sisters from Mexico, Central and South America who had come to the United States to flee hunger and violence were not in the country illegally.

DIEGO TITUANA (Ecuador) emphasized his country’s efforts to enhance linguistic diversity, which included translating the Declaration into six indigenous languages, with more to come.  The loss of indigenous languages meant a devaluation of culture, as well as the irrecoverable loss of a unique history, he said, adding that immediate steps were needed to raise awareness of maintaining such a valuable resource and passing it on to future generations.

ANTHONY JAY VAN DUNK, Pawtamawiikan, said his group aimed at uplifting, educating and assisting indigenous people.  Amid discussions of decolonization and the current reality of Standing Rock, he said constant attacks on indigenous peoples, who were protectors of land and water, had increased.  To address the current situation, he requested a thorough survey of Standing Rock ideas to protect the Earth and fight corporate greed.

ASHUR SARGON ESKRYA, Assyrian Aid Society Iraq, said the same challenges faced indigenous peoples around the world.  The Permanent Forum must take a more active role in follow-up on concerns such as threats of genocide and the extinction of languages and cultures.  His people were being threatened in Iraq by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).  He called on the Permanent Forum to have an indigenous peoples’ representative from the Middle East, to promote dialogue between them and Governments and to request that their knowledge was recognized.

Mr. MAHDI, Ogaden People’s Rights Organization, read out a statement by the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, saying that indigenous beliefs continued to be seen as threats to States’ national unity and security.  Women faced a double discrimination, confronted by violence, oppression and slavery.  Yet, positive change had occurred in legislation and attitudes and efforts must continue in that direction, he said, expressing hope that States, the private sector and international institutions would better respect the rights of indigenous peoples.

LORI JOHNSTON, Yamasi People, said the 2030 Agenda’s implementation was being led by commercial enterprises and backed by militaries with regard to certain industrial development.  She asked for a review of issues surrounding forms of slavery, including the appropriation of ecological work.  She asked that efforts also considered indigenous peoples’ contributions and asked the Permanent Forum to put indigenous economies on the seventeenth session’s agenda.

Ms. THACH, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, said indigenous peoples must participate at all levels in efforts to advance the 2030 Agenda goals.  Free, prior and informed consent was required for all development projects that affected indigenous peoples.  Indicators should also monitor progress, he said, emphasizing that issues facing women must be given special attention.

SAMAJIT SINGHA, Greater Sylhet Indigenous Peoples Forum, noted that preparations had started in Bangladesh to provide education in some indigenous languages.  He urged the Government to recognize all indigenous languages by including them in the Constitution.  He went on to call for the gift of peace to be passed on to future generations, saying human civilization was going through its most uncertain period ever.

DMITRII KHARAKKA-ZAITSEV, Permanent Forum member from the Russian Federation, said old methods of addressing indigenous issues failed to respond to today’s challenges.  With regard to indigenous languages, he said best practices and legislation must be applied equally for all indigenous peoples in a given State, without discrimination.  He went on to call on States and indigenous peoples not only to listen to one another, but to actually hear what the other side was saying.  Indigenous peoples were the ones who truly understood their own issues.  A bridge to resolve future problems needed to be built, but there was little time, he said, appealing for participants to start helping each other.

For information media. Not an official record.