Side event at the UN-Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 12th session

Informal summary of the discussions held.

UNEP and Indigenous Peoples:  A Partnership in Caring for the Environment
Recognizing the rights, responsibilities and contribution of indigenous people for caring for the environment, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the UNEP Indigenous People Policy Guidance, as a step forward for achieving effective, efficient, and mutually beneficial relations with Indigenous Peoples during this year’s UN-PFII at its 12th session. The policy guidance forms part of the continuing process of engagement of UNEP’s work on Major Groups and Stakeholders.

After a brief presentation of the main elements and the objectives of the policy guidance, Participants acknowledged that the policy guidance was very welcome including the fact that it was open for comments and revision. It also depicts awareness and sensitivity of Indigenous Peoples issues and clearly recognizes their contribution to sustainable development and The Future We Want. 

Themes and issues that will need revision within the policy are the definition of Indigenous Peoples, a clearer guidance and description of basic elements regarding the Free Prior Informed Consent as well as the need for UNEP to revise the accreditation requirement for Indigenous Peoples in relation to the recognition of their self-determination. The hope was expressed to use the document to reach out to UN Country teams and coordinators in order to raise awareness and to organize wide dissemination and clear steps towards its implementation. Questions were asked on how this policy guidance would relate to and complement with other processes that UNEP is already involved in such as UN-REDD and its relevant guidelines and safeguards addressing Indigenous Peoples’ issues.

The discussants also stressed the importance of ensuring continuous training and capacity building for staff at UNEP.  Present sister organizations also offered to collaborate more and have regular exchanges including on the development of relevant e-learning material but also made clear that the endorsement of such a document in house is just the first step and requires strong senior management support, intra- organizational champions and an organization wide task force or team and fully dedicated staff as well strong partnerships with Indigenous Peoples.  IFAD for example established its Indigenous Peoples Forum whose mandate is to monitor IFAD’s implementation of its own policy and to ensure that the principles set out in the policy are actually being applied.  It was suggested to consider the establishment of such an Indigenous Peoples Forum at UNEP as well.

UNEP Presentation | UNEP Statement 1 | UNEP Statement 2

UNEP hosted a side event on 23 May 2013 at the North Lawn Building Conference Room 7 from 6:30 - 7:45. (Side Event brochure: English  |   Español)

The UNEP Indigenous Peoples : A Partnership in Caring for the Environment Policy Guidance: English   |   Español   |  Français   

Follow the link: for more information.