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Programmes Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous peoples, despite their important contribution to the world cultural diversity and to the sustainable development of our planet, many of them live on the fringes of society and are deprived of basic human rights. The organisation has been participating in the actions towards seeking support to the indigenous peoples in addressing the multiple challenges they face, while acknowledging their significant role in the world’s cultural landscape.

The adoption of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014) reflects increasing awareness of the precarious condition of indigenous peoples and strengthened collaboration between indigenous organisations, governments, NGOs and UN agencies. This international mobilisation has entailed significant advances such as the adoption in September 2007 of the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples by the UN General Assembly, which the UNESCO Director General welcomed as a "milestone for indigenous peoples and all those who are committed to the protection and promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue".

Despite these advances, indigenous peoples remain particularly vulnerable to the impacts of globalisation and climate change. Often victims of displacements, dispossession of their lands, or lack of access to basic social services, it has become increasingly difficult for them to transmit their distinctive knowledge, values and ways of life from one generation to the next.

Through their spiritual relationship to the land and their holistic worldviews, indigenous peoples offer a valuable pathway in the search for global visions of sustainable development. UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy (2008-13), while mentioning indigenous peoples amongst the most vulnerable segments of society, whose needs are to be prioritised, is also committed to enhance awareness about the important cultural contribution of indigenous peoples to sustainable development.

The manifold areas of support mobilisation, wherein the organisation has been participating, include:

  • Tangible and intangible heritage;
  • Endangered languages;
  • Cultural and linguistic diversity in education;
  • Local & indigenous knowledge system and intergenerational transmission; and
  • Enhancing communication capacities of indigenous peoples

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