Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit (FSS) & Global-Hub Exchange of Knowledge: Whipala/White paper on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems

A virtual meeting of the members of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), members of the Scientific Group (ScG) of the UN FSS, the Global Hub of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and members of the scientific community of indigenous peoples was held on March 31, 2021. Chairperson ScG Joachim von Braun, Vice Chair Kaosar Afsana, and members Ismahane Eloufi and Maximo Terero attended the meeting. This exchange between the Scientific Group and the knowledge communities of the Indigenous peoples was very much appreciated by both sides who so far rarely exchanged their perspectives.

The meeting was held to discuss the draft white paper “Acknowledging indigenous peoples’ knowledge and practices as game-changing solutions” or “The Whipala” paper prepared for the UN FSS. The participants summarized the key messages of the Whipala paper including, the demands for the recognition of indigenous knowledge, recognition of the rights of indigenous people on their land and natural resources and amplifying indigenous voices. The speakers noted the diversity of indigenous food systems and their significance as game-changers for the transformation of the food systems around the world.

Chair of UNPFII, Anne Nuorgam, Indigenous Leader in the Advisory Group of UN FSS, Dr. Myrna Cunningham, UNPFII North America Expert, Geoffrey Roth, FAO Indigenous Peoples Unit Chief, Yon Fernández-de-Larrinoa, and Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact Executive Director, Gam Shimray were among the speakers at the event. Dr. Tania Martinez Cruz of the University of Greenwich and Bak Phrang Roy, the coordinator of Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty also spoke at the event. The meeting was facilitated by Anne Brunel, co-coordinator Global-Hub Indigenous peoples´ food systems.

Members of the ScG gave their remarks on the draft Whipala paper. The potential of indigenous knowledge in solving problems faced by global food systems was acknowledged and a need for highlighting this was stressed. Moreover, the importance of highlighting the contribution of indigenous food systems in attaining the SDGs was also noted.

The Chair of Inuit Circumpolar Council, Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough and Joachim Von Braun presented the way forward on the Whipala paper. von Braun emphasized the importance of connecting traditional knowledge and new science for innovation, even in urbanized contexts. Detailed comments on the paper will be shared with the authors.