Tuesday, August 10, 2010

UNESCO Chief on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

9 August 2010

The world’s 350 million indigenous people are unique custodians of our planet’s biological and cultural diversity, beholders of traditional knowledge systems and ways of life developed over centuries in coexistence with nature. Sustainable development is indeed what best characterizes indigenous peoples’ relationship to their environment, from the natural to the cultural and spiritual.

Despite significant advances in recognizing their rights and heritage, indigenous peoples are still not the real designers and drivers of their own development initiatives. Earlier this year in New York, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples’ issues highlighted the disconnect that still exists between dominant development models and indigenous peoples’ cultures and worldviews.

The indigenous peoples’ claim for “development with culture and identity,” guided by the landmark 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, must be fully respected and taken on board by governments and the international community. This claim resonates strongly with UNESCO’s mandate and expertise.

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