GENEVA / NEW YORK (18 July 2014) – The new United Nations sustainable development goals must not be a step backwards for indigenous peoples, a group of UN experts on indigenous peoples has warned. Their call comes as the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals meets in New York to draft a set of goals which will be presented to the UN General Assembly in September.
“Indigenous peoples face distinct development challenges, and fare worse in terms of social and economic development than non-indigenous sectors of the population in nearly all of the countries they live,” they said. “However,” the experts stressed, “they also can contribute significantly to achieving the objectives of sustainable development because of their traditional knowledge systems on natural resource management which have sustained some of the world’s more intact ecosystems up to the present.”
The group of experts noted with concern that all references to ‘indigenous peoples’ have been deleted in the latest draft of the zero document on the sustainable development goals, which is currently being discussed by the open-ended working group, even though the term had been included in earlier drafts. The experts urged UN Member States in the open-ended working group to listen to the proposals made by indigenous representatives in this process and to ensure that ‘indigenous peoples’ will be used consistently in the outcome document.
This post is also available in: Spanish