Indigenous Peoples' Key Messages for Rio + 20

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20, the international community has a unique opportunity to make a renewed and strong political commitment to the protection and promotion of indigenous peoples' rights.

Indigenous peoples have identified 5 key messages for Rio+20, which they described in their contribution to the Zero Draft and which they are currently lobbying for in the negotiations of the final outcomes of Rio+20. They are as follows:

1. Recognition of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development
This cultural pillar encompasses the cultural and spiritual relation to land and nature. Life in harmony with nature can only be realised through a culturally transformed vision of sustainable development.

2. Recognition of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a standard in the implementation of sustainable development at all levels.
The human-rights based approach to sustainable development should be affirmed and integrated in the outcome document of Rio + 20.

3. The cornerstones of green economies are diverse local economies, in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, biodiversity loss and climate change.
References to “the Green Economy” in the Zero Draft must be changed to “green economies,” embracing economic diversity, including Indigenous Peoples’ diverse local economies, which are critical components of resilient economies and ecosystems.

4. Safeguard the lands, territories and resources, and associated customary management and sustainable use systems.
Beyond income, indigenous peoples and the poor need to have secured rights over their lands, territories and resources and be able to exercise their customary resource management and sustainable use systems, which are their basic sources of wealth and well-being - particularly in a situation of intensifying conflicts arising from resources extractive industries.

5. Indigenous and traditional knowledge are distinct and special contributions to 21st century learning and action.
Reference in the Zero draft to learning and knowledge-sharing platforms must embrace indigenous and local knowledge, and diverse knowledge systems, as equally important as science for the purposes of assessment processes, monitoring and defining indicators for sustainable development.
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