Centro para la Autonomia y Desarollo de los Pueblos Indigenas - CADPI and Foro Internacional de Mujeres Indigenas - FIMI
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Centro para la Autonomia y Desarollo de los Pueblos Indigenas - CADPI and Foro Internacional de Mujeres Indigenas - FIMI
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Indigenous Peoples towards Rio+20
Latin America and the Caribbean

Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas - CADPI
Foro Internacional de Mujeres Indígenas - FIMI


The situation of indigenous peoples is very different today than what it was at the time of the Earth Summit in 1992, when Latin America was on track to overcome the ravages of the "lost decade". In the same year (1992) celebration too place in Spain and Latin America, the encounter of two worlds: a process of commemoration that placed special attention to the agenda of indigenous peoples: their history, their condition, their struggles and especially the issue of their rights. Indigenous people?s organizations, emblematic men and women leaders worked to, on the memory of the event, raise a platform of fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples and for the rights of indigenous women once again. In these 20 years of hard work, endless patience, conviction in rights and reason, mobilized our people's and communities. It has been 20 years with many stories to tell: in 1992 Rigoberta Menchú received the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of her fight for the rights of indigenous peoples in Guatemala; in 1989 Convention 169 was signed which opened the decade with the first instrument of recognition of the existence and rights of indigenous peoples; in 1990 the historic march of the Confederation of indigenous Peoples of Bolivia; in 1994 two events coincided, the uprising of the Zapatista Movement for National Liberation in Mexico and the constitution of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE).

Parallel to those developments and as a result thereof, in the 90s constitutional reforms are achieved in various Latin America States to be recognized as multinational and multiethnic states: Colombia 1991, Mexico 1992, Peru 1993, Bolivia 1994 and Ecuador 1998. The United Nations declares 1993 the International Year of Indigenous Peoples, in 1995 the first International Decade of Indigenous Peoples (1995 - 2005) is declared and, for the few achievements of the same, the Second Decade (2005 - 2015) is declared.

On September 13, 2007, after two decades of hard work and struggle of indigenous peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is signed, in which States finally recognize, among others, the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination. This declaration is a milestone in the construction of the rights of indigenous peoples within the framework of the Rio +20, and strengthens their position within the international community.

At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, indigenous peoples made clear the position of our peoples through the Kari-Oca Declaration of Indigenous Peoples. The documents of the Summit, including the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21, recognized the vital role of indigenous peoples in sustainable development and identified us as one of the 9 Major Groups. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002) (WSSD / Rio +10) in Johannesburg, South Africa, attended by more than one hundred Heads of State, the Kimberley Declaration and Plan of Implementation for Indigenous Peoples on Sustainable Development were adopted. In it, for the first time in UN history, the term "indigenous peoples" was used, a concept later adopted in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted in 2007. In those conditions is that we demand participation in the process and in the Rio +20 Conference itself. The UNDRIP should serve as a basic framework for support to all national and international policies and programs for sustainable development.

20 years after Rio, Indigenous Peoples see that little has changed in the fundamental relationship between human societies and the natural world; we also observed that ecosystems, biodiversity and, therefore, Indigenous Peoples who depend on them, are increasingly threatened. There are continuing violations of the rights to our lands, territories, resources, and our right to self-determination by governments and corporations. Activists, men and women indigenous leaders that defend their territories continue to be harassed, tortured, vilified as "terrorists" and killed by powerful interests.

In the absence of a real implementation of sustainable development, the world finds itself in a multiple crisis: ecological, economic and climatic, including biodiversity erosion, desertification, deglaciation, food shortages, water and Energy, a worsening global economic recession, social instability and crisis of values. In this sense we recognize that much remains in order for the multilateral environmental agreements to adequately address the rights and needs of indigenous peoples, and to recognize present and potential contributions of our peoples for a truly sustainable development that allows us all to live well.

We continue to challenge this development model that promotes the domination of nature, relentless economic growth, resource extraction without limits for profit, unsustainable consumption and production patterns, unregulated products and financial markets. This prevailing system fails to understand that humans are an integral part of the natural world and does not respect the inherent human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples. We believe that our world view and respect for natural law, our spirituality and culture and our values​: reciprocity, harmony with nature, solidarity, community, caring and sharing among each other, are crucial to achieve a more just, equitable and sustainable world.

We call on UN to ensure full, effective and formal participation of indigenous peoples in all processes and activities of the Rio +20 Conference, and its preparation and monitoring mechanisms, in accordance with the UNDRIP and the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent. We continue inhabiting and preserving the last sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots in the world. We can substantially contribute to sustainable development, but we believe that a comprehensive framework for sustainable development should be promoted. This includes the integration of a human rights approach, an ecosystemic approach and a culturally sensitive approach based on the knowledge of our people.


The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted on September 13, 2007, establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and welfare of indigenous peoples around the world. States and the United Nations have pledged to promote and guarantee the individual and collective rights included in this Declaration.

The Declaration, constitutes the platform from which indigenous peoples, united in the common ideal of their rights, have developed their approaches and proposals.

We are also aware that we are diverse peoples each with our own national and regional particularities; united in diversity, we are convinced that the Declaration constitutes an strategic breakthrough in the recognition, promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals and of indigenous peoples, whereupon, we invite and encourage States and all persons and organizations involved in the Rio +20 Conference to consider, both in their approaches and discussions, individual and collective rights that in addition to building our development and our liberties contribute to diversity, wealth of civilizations and cultures that constitute the common heritage of humanity.

United in the pursuit of a sustainable development based on the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights and non discrimination, always in good faith, we make the following approaches and proposals:


For indigenous peoples, living well does not only refer to the per capita income or economic growth, but is about cultural identity, harmony between human beings and Mother Earth. Living well is based on the values of the culture of life, coexistence and complementarity not only between individuals but in harmony between them and nature, responding to the protection of the common good and benefit of all.

These approaches are shared by indigenous peoples around the world,[1] in the sense that indigenous peoples are in the search of a development model based on the practice of self-determination, on the basis that culture is a important pillar of development. In any case is characterized by having an integrated approach, holistic rather than sectoral, based on individual and collective rights and ensures control and self-government over lands, territories and resources. It is based on tradition and respect for our ancestors, complementarity and equality between men and women, thinking about next generations.

From this perspective, indigenous peoples intend to analyze the following aspects of the concept and especially of the process of sustainable development:

- The importance of establishing as a starting point a consensus on the need to change the concept of development, stagnation and worsening environmental problems we now live across the globe constitute a compelling reason for the search of a new and different paradigm.

- We propose to renew the concept of development and improve the instruments for measurement: measure with statistics that fully include information about indigenous peoples, which identifies the diversity of indigenous people, women, youth, migrating populations, so that the information is not subject to the averages of a homogeneous population that always invisibilize inequalities and negative effects of an uneven and exclusionary development.

- Indigenous peoples propose that a new paradigm of Sustainable Development has to sustain itself in a holistic approach to development where the center and purpose of it are the people, communities and indigenous peoples and populations. We propose that people be considered the center of development.

- We propose that in order to have a holistic approach it?s important to review and supplement the pillars of development. These pillars can?t be antagonistic but complementary. In this sense our approach is that besides the three pillars: economic, social and environmental, the cultural pillar be incorporated in order to enrich and lead the process towards sustainability.

- Indigenous peoples propose that the analysis of cultural, social, economic and environmental developments, not be exclusive but complementary. For example, economic development policies have to incorporate not only production costs of productive processes, but must also incorporate the environmental, social and cultural costs: one example can be the calculation of environmental and health costs as well as cultural costs of large scale industrial food production (economic valuation ecosystem, destruction with monocrops, contribution to CO2 production by the transportation of food by multinational companies , etc.., threatens communities and towns because of the destruction of rural economies).

- The concept of poverty: indigenous peoples are not poor, we own territories, knowledge, rights and have the right to self-determination; indigenous peoples are living in poverty and vulnerable conditions, primarily because States -reduced to a minimum by structural adjustment policies -cannot protect our rights; we also find ourselves in this situation due to the unusual concentration of wealth in a small percentage of Latin Americans. We, the indigenous peoples, propose to review the concepts with which we describe our realities: poverty, vulnerability, sustainable development so that the analysis and proposals aim inequality causes and build feasibility for new development processes that incorporate the principles of individual and collective human rights.

- Finally, in regard to one of the central themes of the conference: green economy, we believe that full cooperation of individuals and institutions that participate in the Conference is needed, to build a green economy concept that can be inserted in concept of sustainable development, meaning that it considers the human rights framework, equality between men and women, the concept of "good life" of indigenous peoples, as well as a framework for the development of fair economy in social , cultural and environmental terms.


In Latin America and the Caribbean, the rural population amounts to about 121 million people, of which 60 million are indigenous, at least half are women. Indigenous peoples have a special relationship with their territories and nature and this relationship covers all aspects of life, including social organization, economy, cultural aspects, cosmovision and history. It is important to highlight the role of indigenous women in the transmission and preservation of cultural patterns, such as language, means of production and forms of organization that make them strategic partners for the preservation of cultures, communities, sustainable production and distribution of food.

Food sovereignty and security are crucial aspects of the notion of "good life" of indigenous peoples. Everyone has the right and responsibility to participate in the decision on how to produce and distribute food. The vision of food sovereignty entail a transformation in the current food system to ensure that those who produce food have equitable access to, and control over, land, water, seeds, fishing, agricultural biodiversity and all the technical and financial resources for production.[2]

Considering that respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices of indigenous peoples contribute to food security, sustainable and equitable development and to a proper management of the environment, we make the following statements:

- It is important that States and international organizations recognize and support indigenous peoples traditional practices related to agro-ecology as well as various forms of food production (fishing, hunting, farming, harvesting and silvo-pastoral production ) as a basis for food sovereignty and the protection of biological diversity, traditional knowledge, as alternatives to models of unsustainable industrial food production, based on seeds, genetically modified plants and animals, and the use of toxic pesticides and other agro-chemicals.

- The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues - an ECOSOC subsidiary body and forum for dialogue between states, agencies of the United Nations and indigenous peoples- has made recommendations noting that indigenous women are bearers and intergenerational transmitters of traditional knowledge on the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable environmental management, and in that sense have asked international agencies and governments to ensure their access to resources, including credit, new technologies and technical assistance for agriculture and food production; and that the experience of women is reflected in national and international sustainable development initiatives, ensuring consultation, free, prior and informed concent (FPIC) as well as effective participation in formulation and decision making processes.

- Indigenous people believe is important that States, international organizations and the private sector consider incorporating the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for all decisions affecting territories, natural resources and production methods that affect the lives of people in general and indigenous peoples.

- We believe that since mining is an activity that produces large environmental pollution including greenhouse gases, and destroys natural ecosystems, health and food sources from which indigenous peoples and other communities depend upon; we call for a moratorium on mining on fragile and culturally significant ecosystems such as forests, deserts, water sources, sacred sites, subsistence areas, Arctic ecosystems and traditional territories.

- Reports indicate, that in Latin America, despite major advancements in economic growth, there still remain big challenges in the management of toxic chemicals and waste, which threatens human security in both urban and rural areas; the use of fertilizers has doubled since 1990. We Indigenous peoples pronounce ourselves on this fact, there is no way to solve a problem if the solution does not address the right causes. The reason why the use of agro-chemicals has doubled is because patterns of production and consumption of food have not been disputed. The large-scale industrial production and distribution are a structural part of the problems regarding food poverty, disease and pollution.

- We call for food sovereignty, sustainable and organic production, that ensure nutritious food quality, varied and naturally ripened, which also guarantee the recovery of local markets, the introduction of productive work; that expands the opportunities for local investment and economic, social and cultural development on healthy eating, with cultural identity and secure access.


The Latin American region, in the framework of the global economic crisis, has made serious efforts to maintain a growing economy, unfortunately this growth has been based mainly on the intensive extraction of natural resources, which creates a great pressure on soils, water resources and all natural resources. Likewise, the manufacturing sectors continue being of low aggregate value and remain a marked heterogeneity in productivity among the various branches of economic activity; this situation is exacerbated by a high degree of ownership and wealth concentration, resulting in deep socioeconomic inequality

20 years ago in Rio, States recognized local and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, however, currently stress remains in two issues:

On the one hand, we see a continued loss of our lands, biodiversity and natural resources resulting from occupation by third parties, extractive investment and even green extractive investments, the high rate of deforestation and degradation of soils, forests, marine coastal areas, swamps, sacred sites.

In addition, extractive predation affects not only the integrity of the territory but also violates our rights in political and legal terms. This violation has broken the spiritual balance of our people, as it has affected the natural areas where the spirits or Dawan inhabit, considering them beings with powers that protect resources. As a consequence there has been a rupture of the balance between people that make up the indigenous world, leading to the loss of cultural and spiritual values​. The spheres of culture, nature and interrelated policy, determine our survival as individuals and as people. And, the loss of balance between these elements or spaces, constitutes a cause for illness, death and imbalance.

Faced with this reality, indigenous peoples committed to seek a development model based on the practice of self-determination, provide the following approaches:

- Recommend that the proposed "Green Economy" innitiative is defined and demonstrates its distance from the development model based on market approach and intensive extraction of resources.

- Express our opposition to the establishment of large tracts of monocrops for biofuel production, especially in our peoples territories-

- Propose that developing countries promote the construction of a new production model that on the one hand promotes local development, considering the territories with their human, economic and environmental capital to develop innovative processes to reduce the destruction, generate greater aggregate value and stimulate local markets.

- Likewise, raise the need for developed countries to emphasize on conservation and reduction of their consumption levels; so that productive projects are geared towards supporting and restoring local economies, markets and local production systems.

- Propose the respect for the implementation of human rights as well as the indigenous peoples rights, respect for our development proposals; we also propose that any discussion on economic models and the green economy, must include full and effective participation of people indigenous as well as the implementation of the free, prior and informed consent, of our peoples in all stages.

- Demand states and international organizations their compromise to harmonize the decision-making processes for economic, social, environmental and cultural development, to constitute a new paradigm of sustainable development based on the principles of justice, fairness and respect of ecosystems, natural resources and territories.


Legal protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, now known as safeguards, to lands, territories, resources and traditional knowledge should be a prerequisite for the development and planning of any and all types of adaptation and mitigation measures against climate change, conservation of the environment (including the creation of "protected areas"), the sustainable use of biodiversity and measures to combat desertification. In all cases they must have the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, and therefore, we encourage States to take steps in this direction.

- Recommend that states, guarantors of the rights of indigenous peoples promote and facilitate the restoration of the natural patrimony and indigenous peoples' collective, re-establishing their rights, territorial spaces and integral management of their territories.

- Recommend that States and international organizations promote the strengthening of representations and territorial governments: the development of mechanisms for coordination, negotiation and alliances between communities for the joint protection of territory.

- Recommend as main requirements, legal protection of lands, territories, resources and traditional knowledge. We also recommend that traditional farming methods and practices of our peoples, based on healthy alternatives to pesticides be supported.

- Recommend that the term, food sovereignty, be used in place of food security and be adopted in Rio +20[3], for this term harmoniously links food security and territorial development.

- Propose the development of policy and regulatory frameworks that facilitate the coexistence within the framework of respect for individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples.


In recent decades, with recent constitutional reforms through which states recognize themselves as multinational, Multi-ethnic autonomous regions are created, as in the case of Bolivia and Nicaragua and spaces are open for effective governance with the participation of indigenous peoples as development actors and subjects of individual and collective rights.

In the framework of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is of fundamental importance to build governance with the effective participation of indigenous peoples by strengthening their institutions, cultures and traditions to promote their development based on their aspirations and needs.

For this purpose, we propose indigenous institutional strengthening in four strategic areas:

. Strengthening indigenous institutions that combine individual and collective characteristics, usually based on ancestral institutions, cosmology, rituals and spirituality, collective history, among others, that base their membership on collective identities as peoples.

. Strengthening state institutions and civil society to promote the rights of indigenous peoples, rights of women, youth and the environment.

. Strengthening educational institutions of indigenous peoples, while also strengthening the multicultural approach to higher education institutions and research centers.

. Strengthening the development of synergies and coordination to enhance the capabilities and dynamics of sustainable development.

In view of the above, indigenous peoples:

- Propose that States and international organizations promote and develop mechanisms for the incorporation of indigenous peoples and their representatives in decision-making, political participation, and at all levels of community representation, local and national. Therefore, it is important to develop positive actions at all levels, promote indigenous participation shares in both political parties and all expressions of governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

- Propose that States and international organizations, promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions in order to demand their rights and participate in decision-making.

- States and international organizations shall consult and cooperate in good faith with indigenous peoples interested through their representative institutions before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that affect them, in order to obtain their free, prior and informed.

- States and international organizations shall boost and assign resources for indigenous peoples to maintain and develop their political, economic, social and cultural institutions that protect their natural resources, human resources, environmental resources and freedoms, this will facilitate capacity building based on traditional and nontraditional knowledge.

- The development of institutions of higher education and vocational training proper of indigenous peoples themselves with institutional development strategies, coordination and articulation of knowledge, likewise educational institutions have a special role for systematization, theorizing and knowledge development of indigenous peoples as universal knowledge that contributes to global development.

- A very important aspect is the strengthening of state institutions that serve the rights of indigenous peoples and those that serve production, economics and sustainable development. Their strengthening must include the management of human rights frameworks and the rights of indigenous peoples.

- The strengthening of state institutions goes through the formation of work teams that, in the framework of the ethical principles of human rights, incorporate within their abilities the framework of rights, gender, generational and multicultural approaches.

- Last but not least, the development of synergies and inter-institutional articulations that allows a holistic view of development. Indigenous peoples propose a work plan for the development of inter-institutionalism and especially the development of synergies, partnerships and interlocutions with indigenous peoples organizations as well as other representatives of social movements united in the principles of justice and equity; youth organizations, women's organizations, peasant organizations and environmentalists.

- Finally, we propose as an important element the articulation and coordination of the actors involved. The joint work of the various national and local government agencies, UN agencies, and civil society organizations and peoples as partners, is critical to the advancement of any development process.


- Indigenous peoples request that in Rio +20 formal structures for effective participation of indigenous peoples be promoted, defined and implemented, including women and youth in decision-making process within the Conference.

- Request that, in all areas of discussion in Rio +20, the participation of indigenous peoples be incorporated, considering their views, skills, knowledge and potential and not to prioritize poverty and backwardness, far from defining it discriminates them, excludes them and leaves them at a disadvantage in the development dialogue.

- We indigenous peoples propose that, States, United Nations agencies, international organizations and all persons and institutions involved, consider the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a structural part of the human rights framework in which commitments to sustainable development are discussed and agreed.

- We also propose, that all agreements and proposals provide in the discussion as well as in the commitments, financial resources, technical, technological and human resources to ensure their implementation, we especially request States that, specialized agencies, United Nations agencies and other intergovernmental organizations commit to mobilizing the necessary resources to ensure the participation of indigenous peoples on an equal footing, in the processes of building a new model of sustainable development.

Sources consulted to develop the document:

In preparing this document the following documents were taken into account: Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, Informes del para las Cuestiones Indígenas UNPFII ? ONU, Agenda 21, en especial los capítulos 26, 25 y 24; la Declaración de Kari-oka 1992; la Declaración de Kimberly 2002; el Plan de Aplicación de los pueblos indígenas sobre el desarrollo sostenible 2002; Compromisos y prioridades de los pueblos indígena ante la Cumbre Mundial sobre desarrollo sostenible 2002; Declaración de Manaos 2011; América Latina ante Río +20 2011; The Jokkmokk Agreement; Ronda de Roha. Likewise the Convención contra todas las formas de Discriminación contra las mujeres (CEDAW) was consulted and the documents of La sostenibilidad del desarrollo a 20 años de la Cumbre de la Tierra: Avances, brechas y lineamientos estratégicos para América Latina y el Caribe[4]1, in draft form, developed jointly by agencies, funds and programs of the United Nations operating in Latin America and the Caribbean, coordinated by[5] CEPAL, and the document La hora de la igualdad: Brechas por cerrar, caminos por abrir2, presented by CEPAL in its thirty third session (Brasilia, 2010). Declaraciones. 

[1] Tivoli meeting on indigenous peoples and self determined development. Tebbteba. 2008.
[2] Final Declaration of the Social Movements /NGO/CSO Parallel Forum to the Food Security Summit. Rome, November 13-17 2009.
[3] Adopted at the Global Consultation of indigenous peoples in Atitlan, in 2002.
[4] LC/L.3346.
[5] LC/G.2432(SES.33/3).

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