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Pope meets representatives of indigenous peoples

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis met with a group representing indigenous peoples ahead of his Wednesday General Audience, speaking to them about the need to "reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories".

The representatives are participating in the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum hosted in Rome by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The biennial meeting aims to promote greater economic empowerment of indigenous peoples.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

 

In his brief address to representatives, Pope Francis discussed two aspects of the economic empowerment of indigenous peoples.

He said, “The central issue is how to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories.”

This is especially clear, he said, “when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth”.

He said confrontation and conflict can be overcome through “prior and informed consent” of indigenous peoples for initiates proposed by governing authorities.

The Holy Father said the second aspect “concerns the development of guidelines and projects which take into account indigenous identity”.

He called on governments to recognize “that indigenous communities are a part of the population to be appreciated and consulted, and whose full participation should be promoted at the local and national level”.

The Pope said IFAD “can contribute effectively to this needed road map through its funding and expertise”.

IFAD was established in 1977 as an international financial institution dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries.

Some 75% of the world's poorest people - 1.4 billion women, children and men - live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods.

Please find below the official translation of the Pope’s speech:

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you at the conclusion of the third Indigenous Peoples’ Forum convened by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, which this year is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of its foundation.

You have come together to identify ways of giving greater economic empowerment to indigenous peoples.  I believe that the central issue is how to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories.

This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth. In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail, as foreseen in Article 32 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.

A second aspect concerns the development of guidelines and projects which take into account indigenous identity, with particular attention to young people and women; not only considering them, but including them! For governments this means recognizing that indigenous communities are a part of the population to be appreciated and consulted, and whose full participation should be promoted at the local and national level.

IFAD can contribute effectively to this needed road map through its funding and expertise, keeping in mind that “a technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress” (Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 194).

I offer you heartfelt thanks for your presence, and I ask the Almighty to bless your communities and to enlighten the work of all those responsible for governing IFAD. 

16/2/2017