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Statement by the Indigenous Peoples Major Group (IPMG) Imprimir

World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR)

March 17, 2015, Sendai, Japan

Delivered by Galina Angarova, Organizing Partner for the IPMG


Dear Mr. President, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I speak here on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group which represents 370 million indigenous peoples who live in 90 countries around the world. Indigenous peoples's territories span across over 24% of the earth's surface and they manage 80% of the world's biodiversity. At the same time, we are 5% of the total global population and 15% of the world's poorest and the number has not changed much since the inception of Millennium Development Goals in 2000. We continue to be overrepresented among the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society. Indigenous Peoples are often dispossessed and removed from their traditional lands and territories and deprived of their resources for survival, further weakening their capacity to deal with hazards, both natural and man-made.

On the outset, the IMPG has been happy with the process leading up to the WCDRR and with the current version of the outcome document that contains a number of references to indigenous peoples and there is a very strong emphasis on traditional knowledge. We hope that the final version of the outcome document retains suggested references and includes effective approaches to reduce risk to disasters through engaging indigenous leaders and their communities.


Further, I would like to make following points:

  1. We would like to support other major groups in the call that the document should be people-centered and human rights-based. Specific to indigenous peoples, this translates into full participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making and recognition of community-driven initiatives. Indigenous peoples should have the right to participate in matters that affect them and therefore actively engage in disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness initiatives on all levels.

    Additionally, and we wish to underline the centrality of Free Prior and Informed Consent which is of fundamental importance to Indigenous Peoples' participation in decision-making and establishes a framework for all consultations relating to projects affecting indigenous peoples, including in the area of DRR. It is the duty of States to obtain free, prior and informed consent though genuine consultations and participation prior to any decision that would directly or indirectly affect indigenous peoples.We urge you to include a specific reference to FPIC of indigenous peoples somewhere in the text of the outcome document that would encourage national governments to recognize a vital role of indigenous peoples and welcome inclusivity and consultations with indigenous peoples in all stages of the development and formulation of targets, indicators and national policies for DRR.

  2. We would like to reiterate and highlight the importance of indigenous traditional knowledge in understanding disaster risk. We need to promote effective sharing of information, knowledge, and research and combine local, traditional, and western science perspectives. There is a need to engage world leaders of indigenous peoples interested in risk reduction, together with their non-indigenous counterparts, in an ongoing dialogue aimed at understanding risks -- those that are unique to indigenous peoples and those shared in common with vulnerable communities throughout the world.

    Related to the subject of traditional knowledge, we are glad to see the language on strengthening early warning and preparedness systems . However, we would like to see a specific reference to indigenous knowledge, which comes from an intimate relation with the natural environment. Indigenous communities have learned to read signs from the nature to predict hazards. These local, experiential, “early warning” systems are frequently credited with saving lives and property. Therefore, we are urging to incorporate indigenous early warning systems in the national, regional and local early warming systems. For example, partnerships with indigenous communities in disaster-prone ares via SMS-sending systems can be of great benefit.

  3. On data disaggregation. The main concern of indigenous peoples with regards to implementation and monitoring is lack of disaggregated data specifically addressing indigenous peoples. As a result, indigenous peoples are usually invisible and absent in national reports and data collections. We are ready to work with you to disaggregate data on ethnic origin in disaster loss databases along with gender, age, and disability. This will complement our efforts in the SDGs process to include ethnic origin as one of the identifiers in national data censuses, household surveys and other data gathering efforts.
  4. We would also like to support others and emphasize the importance of training and capacity building. During the opening ceremony, the Prime-minister of Japan Shinzo Abe pledged to conduct DRR trainings for 40,000 government employees. I believe many countries around the world will be providing such trainings and it would be vitally important to include community leaders and practitioners, especially from indigenous communities. The diversity of knowledge, traditional wisdom and technology that indigenous peoples bring have wide applicability in national training efforts.
  5. Finally, as you, member States, conclude these agreements on disaster risk reduction, and look to ensure coherence with the SDG's and Climate Agreements, we encourage you to learn from indigenous knowledge --- integrated approaches are fundamental to indigenous peoples - we do not see life as fragments and silos but as a sacred web of life where resilience of human communities can not be separated from the resilience of the natural environment. 
    Thank you.