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PrepCom IV, WSSD, Bali, Indonesia

27 May 2002

The themes covered by our multi-stakeholder dialogue this week are those at the very heart of the social and ecological crisis, and the problems of sustainable development.


Governance, partnerships and capacity-building are about addressing social and power relationships, and about how these relationships impact on our relations with the Earth.  The contemporary world is characterised by deep imbalances in our social relations, of gross inequalities between nations and within societies, manifested by huge disparities in consumption of natural resources. International governance gives disproportionate power to the same economic elite and their institutions of choice – the World Trade Organisation and the international economic and financial institutions - to decide the futures of our children. The WSSD process is itself harmonising into this unequal and imbalanced architecture. Governance structures for Sustainable Development must strive for greater democratisation, transparency, equity, and accountability in order to achieve better outcomes.  A narrow base of decision-making inevitably leads to bad results.


So while I share with all of us here an appreciation of our beautiful surroundings, it is a deep contradiction to be making policy decisions about poverty and environmental degradation amidst the most luxurious of settings. This is a stark contrast to indigenous territories contaminated by mining, deforested landscapes and polluted environments which are the legacy of modern development to our peoples and the Earth.


And yet, the Chairman’s Paper, representing the negotiated agreements by governments, promises our peoples more of the same mining, energy-production and privatisation of water and social services, this time labelled as  “poverty eradication” and  “sustainable development.” Our efforts to prepare statements, engage in dialogue, and prepare text at the earlier preparatory meetings have not resulted in substantive commitments and language which will improve the lives and well-being of indigenous peoples.  Indeed, the implementation plan before us today takes a few steps back from the commitments made in Rio Principle 22 and Chapter 26 of Agenda 21 on Recognizing and Strengthening the role of Indigenous People and their Communities.  (See Annex)


Indigenous participants at this meeting, put forward the following principles and demands as necessary for good sustainable development governance.


Respect for Indigenous Peoples Territories and Self-determination

1.      Respect for indigenous peoples’ territories and self-determination is a basic precondition for strengthening processes of partnerships and governance for sustainable development on an equal footing. Therefore, the United Nations, Indigenous Peoples and Governments should promote actions aimed at defining and implementing a legal and political framework that guarantees Indigenous Peoples' collective rights and strengthens  them as autonomous entities with specific competence in the economy, politics, social affairs, culture, administration of justice, and management of territories and resources.  Indigenous Peoples as RIGHTS-HOLDERS and not stakeholders, are entitled to full recognition as equal partners, in all decision-making affecting our lives, territories and well-being, in the exercise of  self-determination and sustainable development. Our free, prior and informed consent must be upheld for all developments affecting our territories, lands, resources and communities.


Sustainable Development Governance at All Levels

2.      The United Nations Decade for the World’s Indigenous Peoples  (1995-2004) culminate in the adoption by the UN General Assembly of a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and Sustainable Development.


3.      The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to serve as a global focal point for enhancing collaboration and co-ordination of policies, commitments and action plans for Indigenous Peoples and Sustainable Development, including linkages and with the multilateral environmental, economic and trade agreements.


4.      To promote models for Environmental and Sustainable Development Governance, such as the Arctic Council which incorporate principles of genuine partnership between States and Indigenous Peoples, ecosystem approaches, collaboration between scientific and traditional knowledge, and local, national and regional implementation plans. To support further regional efforts to promote the rights of Indigenous Peoples through regional declarations, policies and programmes.


5.      The United Nations to promote respect for the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded between Indigenous Peoples and States, or their successors, according to their original spirit and intent, and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements.


6.      Governments ensure recognition and respect for Indigenous processes and structures of governance, including the roles of indigenous elders, men, women, youth and children, and provide technical, political, and financial support to strengthen these. Countries that have not done so to sign and ratify ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, especially those in Africa and Asia. Indigenous identities combine ancestral roots as well as incorporation in modern states. This must be understood in addressed in national constitutions, laws and administrative arrangements.


7.      Governments guarantee the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples at all stages and at all levels of sustainable development institutions, programs and policies, including Indigenous Agenda 21, and the recognition of indigenous governance structures within the CSD.  Indigenous women's central roles as traditional knowledge bearers and inter-generational keepers of language, custom, culture, food and health shall be recognised and supported.


Indigenous Peoples Self-Development

8.      Indigenous Peoples, Governments, development agencies and NGOs, to strengthen implementation of policies, programmes and projects on sustainable development with indigenous peoples through implementation reviews, and training and capacity building programmes on indigenous peoples rights, culturally appropriate social indicators, procedures, and time lines and project management.  Donors to establish Funds for Indigenous Peoples’ Sustainable Development, aimed at implementing collective rights; strengthening indigenous economic and indigenous knowledge systems; demarcation and legal recognition of lands and territories and management plans, as well as conservation and sustainable use of natural resources; and strategies for strengthening application of appropriate technologies; which are  initiated and led by indigenous peoples in accordance with their visions, objectives and life-plans.


Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights

9.      Protect and strengthen the economic, environmental, political, social, cultural and intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples within the economic, trade and financial arenas through the adoption of policies and standards by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation, regional economic bodies such as the European Union, governments and corporations consistent with existing and emerging standards on indigenous peoples rights.


10.  Define legal and political frameworks at national and international levels for the implementation of sui generis systems for the protection of indigenous biocultural heritage and collective intellectual property rights in collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), UNESCO and other international organisations. Support indigenous peoples to develop and consolidate their own policies and principles for the protection of biological resources, traditional knowledge, innovations and creativity, including modes of access and benefit-sharing with the free and prior informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities.


Indigenous Peoples and Corporate Accountability

  1. United Nations, Governments, Corporations, Indigenous Peoples and civil society, to develop mechanisms and procedures for the regulation of the private sector to uphold high standards of economic, environmental, social and cultural responsibility. The United Nations to adopt a legally binding Convention on Corporate Accountability covering inter-alia, the chemical, energy, agro-forestry, and extractive industries. Such Convention must uphold Indigenous Peoples rights, including their free, prior and informed consent of to any development affecting indigenous lands and communities.


  1. Recent laws liberalising the operations of mining and other extractive industries must be reviewed and amended with a view to eliminating their adverse impacts on national economies, the environment and communities. Governments to reform national social policies, land tenure regimes and administrative laws to recognize indigenous peoples’ rights to their territories and to self-governance.


  1. Indigenous peoples and local communities demand:

·        A moratorium on new mining and oil projects

·        That companies take legal and financial responsibility for - and clean up - the terrible damage caused by their past and current mines

·        The World Bank/IMF and multilateral banks to cease funding of  mining projects and industry-initiated mining codes which are imposed on member governments

·        That industry cease lobbying against regulated higher standards in all mining and smelting

·        That surface and subsurface rights of indigenous peoples and all mining-affected communities be unequivocally respected, as well as their right to say no to projects they consider unacceptable.


Mr. Chairman,


We submit our initial proposals from the Indigenous Peoples Caucus and invite governments and all participants to discuss these with us and to carry these into the Polical Declaration, Implementation Plan and other outcomes of the WSSD.



ANNEX:  Commitments made at the UN Conference on Environment and Development


Rio Principle 22:

Indigenous people and their communities and other local communities have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices.  States should recognize and duly support their identity, culture and interests and enable their effective participation in the achievement of sustainable development.


Chapter 26:  Recognizing and Strengthening the Role of Indigenous People and their Communities calls on governments and international organisations to establish a process to empower indigenous people and their communities through measures that include:


·        Adoption or strengthening of appropriate policies and/or legal instruments at the national level;


·        Recognition that the lands of indigenous people and their communities should be protected from activities that are environmentally unsound or that the indigenous people concerned consider to be socially and culturally inappropriate;


·        Recognition of their values, traditional knowledge and resource management practices with a view to promoting environmentally sound and sustainable development;


·        Recognition that traditional and direct dependence on renewable resources and ecosystems, including sustainable harvesting, continues to be essential to the cultural, economic and physical well-being of indigenous people and their communities;


·        Development and strengthening of national dispute-resolution arrangements in relation to settlement of land and resource-management concerns;


·        Support for alternative environmentally sound means of production to ensure a range of choices on how to improve their quality of life so that they effectively participate in sustainable development;


·        Enhancement of capacity-building for indigenous communities, based on the adaptation and exchange of traditional experience, knowledge and resource-management practices, to ensure their sustainable development;


·        Establishment, where appropriate, of arrangements to strengthen the active participation of indigenous people and their communities in the national formulation of policies, laws and programmes relating to resource management and other development processes that may affect them, and their initiation of proposals for such policies and programmes;


·        Involvement of indigenous people and their communities at the national and local levels in resource management and conservation strategies and other relevant programmes established to support and review sustainable development strategies, such as those suggested in other programme areas of Agenda 21.


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