WASHINGTON DC, August 9, 2011: On the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, nine indigenous peoples’ representatives gathered in Washington DC to discuss and provide inputs for the development of a future policy of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) aiming at strengthening the partnership with the indigenous peoples to conserve the global environment and improve their livelihood.
Indigenous peoples have been responsible stewards of their lands and resources for thousands of years. Traditional indigenous territories have been estimated to cover up to 24 percent of the world’s land surface and contain 80 percent of the earth’s remaining healthy ecosystems and global biodiversity priority areas. This remarkable spatial convergence presents both an enormous opportunity as well as a challenge for both conserving environment and supporting Indigenous Peoples’ livelihoods. The GEF has been financing more than 100 projects worldwide to address this unique opportunity, mainly through its biodiversity projects that help conserve threatened ecosystems and species.
The development of a policy for engagement with Indigenous Peoples has been agreed at the last GEF Council meeting with the objective of facilitating their participation in GEF-funded projects and activities. With generous funding provided by the Swiss government, the GEF Secretariat is supporting a consultation process designed to gather valuable input from the indigenous peoples’ own perspective.
“It is symbolic that we are embarking on this important process on the International Day on World’s Indigenous Peoples,” says Ms Minnie Degawan, a leader of the Kankanaey People in Philippines. “I hope that the new GEF policy will be developed and implemented by the next year’s International Day so that we can truly celebrate our work.”
“This is an opportunity to set up rules to protect, promote, and strengthen the life of indigenous peoples and at the same time conserve the environment that we all rely on,” says Mr. Johnson Cerda, Kichwa of Ecuador, who has also been serving as the Indigenous Peoples representative to the GEF NGO Network and actively promoting the rights and roles of indigenous peoples for conservation.
“The GEF Policy on Indigenous Peoples is a timely and important landmark in GEF’s partnership with the civil society” says Mr. Faizal Parish from the GEF NGO Network.
Ms. Monique Barbut, GEF Chairperson and CEO notes: “We are embarking on a very important initiative to recognize and strengthen the role of indigenous peoples to better manage our natural resources and adapt to the changing climate. I want to make sure that our investments are good for the environment and good for people, including indigenous peoples who are key stewards of our environment.”
Participants clockwise from further left :
- Mr. Faizal Parish, GEF NGO Network
- Mr. Famark Hlawching, Chin People, Burma
- Ms. Yoko Watanabe, GEF Secretariat
- Mr. Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, Ogoni People, Nigeria
- Ms. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Mbororo People, Chad
- Ms. Edna Kaptoyo, Pokot People, Kenya
- Ms. Jennifer Rubis, Dayak Bidayuh People, Indonesia
- Ms, Minnie Degawan, Kankanaey People, Philippines
- Mr. Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Secretariat
- Mr. Johnson Cerda, Kichwa People, Ecuador
- Ms. Joenia Batista de Carvalho, Wapichana People, Brazil
- Mr. Jadder Mendoza Lewis, Miskito People, Nicaragua