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International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

ROME, Aug 2 2017 (IPS) - Over the centuries, Indigenous peoples who have in-depth and locally rooted knowledge of the natural world , have been increasingly dispossessed of their lands, territories and resources and have lost control over their own way of life.

Traditional indigenous lands and territories contain some 80 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity and indigenous peoples have a crucial role in managing natural resources.

One of the root causes of poverty and marginalization of indigenous peoples is loss of control over their traditional lands, territories and natural resources.

Worldwide, indigenous peoples account for 5 per cent of the population, but represent 15 per cent of those living in poverty. Too often, they pay a price for being different and face discrimination.

Enabling indigenous peoples to overcome poverty requires supporting their efforts to shape and direct their own destinies and managing development initiatives crafted with that goal in mind. Their concept of poverty and development must reflect their own values, needs and priorities; they do not see poverty solely as the lack of income

Indigenous peoples have rich and ancient cultures and view their social, economic, environmental and spiritual systems as interdependent. Their traditional knowledge and understanding of ecosystem management are valuable contributions to the world’s heritage.

Indigenous languages are key to ensuring the continuation and transmission of the culture, customs and history that constitute the core parts of the heritage and identity of indigenous peoples. It is estimated that there are between 6,000 and 7,000 oral languages in the world today. A great majority of these languages are spoken by indigenous peoples, and many (if not most) of them are in danger of becoming extinct. One indigenous language dies every two weeks.

There are more than 370 million self-identified indigenous peoples in over 70 countries around the world. There are more than 400 groups in Latin America alone, each with a distinct language and culture. The biggest concentration of indigenous peoples, an estimated 70 per cent, live in Asia and the Pacific region.

On the Tenth Anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the IPS Inter Press Service and its partners call for the voices of the Indigenous Peoples to be heard and their rights respected.

 
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