Sunday, September 14, 2008

UNESCO roundtable on the development, culture and identity of indigenous peoples

Image © Ayodele Banjo

A roundtable titled “Indigenous Peoples: Development with Culture and Identity” is to take place 15 September at UNESCO Headquarters*. It is to lay the ground for reflection on this theme which will also be discussed at the 9th session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) to be held in New York in 2010. Participants are to focus on the contribution of indigenous approaches to sustainable development in the age of globalization. They will also seek to reinforce cooperation among indigenous peoples, governments and the United Nations system as a whole.

The event will be opened by the UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. Participants will include Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Igorot, Philippines), Margaret Lokawua (Karamoja, Uganda) and Carlos Mamani Condorí (Aymará, Bolivia), respectively chair and members of the UNPFII. John Scott of the Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity; Julian Burger, Coordinator, Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); Anaisabel Prera, Guatemala’s Ambassador to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO; and Darriann Riber of the Danish International Development Agency will also be participating.

An estimated 350 million indigenous peoples live in over 70 countries and speak more than 5,000 languages: such is the importance of indigenous people today. Their cultures express the powerful links between humanity and nature, between tradition and modernity, offering a holistic view of the world. They could become a source of renewal for the future. Despite their major contribution to cultural diversity and to sustainable development, many of them are marginalized and deprived of basic human rights.

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