Slow Food and IFAD: safeguard indigenous peoples’ food and culture

16 Feb 2015 | English

Rome, 14 February 2015 — Carlo Petrini, Slow Food International founder and president, spoke at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on the occasion of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum to highlight the importance of local food cultures and traditions.

Petrini spoke to more than 50 representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations gathered at IFAD’s Rome headquarters to outlined the global organization’s commitment to their role in supporting access to healthy and nutritious foods.

“For more than 25 years now, Slow Food has sought to preserve agricultural and food biodiversity as a tool for ensuring a future for our planet and humanity as a whole,” Petrini said. “It is necessary to point out, though, that it would be senseless to defend biodiversity without also defending the cultural diversity of peoples and their right to govern their own territories. The right of peoples to have control over their land, to grow food, to hunt, fish and gather according to their own needs and decisions, is inalienable.”

IFAD and Slow Food have worked collaboratively on a variety of projects since 2009, sharing a common vision in a fight against poverty and hunger in developing countries based on supporting small-scale farmers. As part of that cooperation, a specific focus has been given to raise awareness and to support indigenous peoples’ issues.

IFAD’s engagement with Indigenous Peoples has a long history. Over more than 30 years, nearly a quarter of IFAD’s annual lending has supported initiatives for Indigenous Peoples. Among them, IFAD-funded projects have focused on issues such as indigenous peoples’ management of land and natural resources, their participation in policy-making and the preservation of their cultural heritage.

“At IFAD, we recognise that the rights of indigenous peoples are far too often denied or overlooked,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, IFAD President, at the opening of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD headquarters in Rome. “This why IFAD continually makes a concerted effort to ensure that their voices are being heard on the global stage.”

Slow Food and the Indigenous Terra Madre Network is connecting with a diverse range of networks, communities and organizations around the world to gain vital local and regional knowledge, and learn more about different peoples in all corners of the world. Like many peasant or Terra Madre communities, the indigenous food societies were drawn to Slow Food and its principles. In 2010, Slow Food Sapmi proposed to have their own indigenous Terra Madre. The event took place in 2011 in the Artic town of Jokkmokk in Sweden, strongly supported by the Slow Food movement with ideas and resources. It brought together representatives of indigenous communities from around the world to discuss how to bring their knowledge and vision of food production into modern times.

Phrang Roy, Coordinator of Indigenous partnership and Slow Food International Councillor said that “as the world searches for sustainable ways of growing food that avoid and ideally mitigate ecological crisis, scientists and policymakers are today turning a thoughtful gaze toward indigenous peoples and their long-standing practices that help to maintain ecological balance.”

“Indigenous Terra Madre 2015 will gather indigenous food communities working with the Indigenous Partnership, Slow Food International, United Nations Agencies and other global supporters to showcase their traditional knowledge, evolving skills and sustainable practices that safeguard natural resources and contribute to a resilient food system that promotes a more humane future for a diverse world,” Roy added.

About Slow Food

Slow Food involves over a million of people dedicated to and passionate about good, clean and fair food. This includes chefs, youth, activists, farmers, fishers, experts and academics in over 158 countries; a network of around 100,000 Slow Food members linked to 1,500 local chapters worldwide (known as convivia), contributing through their membership fee, as well as the events and campaigns they organize; and over 2,500 Terra Madre food communities who practice small-scale and sustainable production of quality food around the world.

About IFAD

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided over US$16.3 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 438 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

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