The United Nations organised the pre-summit of September’s main UN Food System Summit where the founder of the North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS), Phrang Roy, acted as one of the main representatives for indigenous peoples.
The pre-summit began on Monday and concluded today. This year’s UN Food System Summit will be the first that recognises the contribution and voice of indigenous people in the global event, NESFAS said today in a press release.
Yesterday, Roy spoke at four different sessions, “shedding light in which the indigenous people’s food and knowledge systems continue to be marginalised in policy making despite visible benefits and results” and he urged the UN to acknowledge this.
“Indigenous people have been shouting from the hilltops that our indigenous food systems are game-changers and they need acknowledgement and specific support. Unfortunately, no one has seriously listened to us so far,” he said.
He cited an example of how a recent study of 18 villages in the North East showed virtually non-existent severe food insecurity. This was proof, he stated, of how the food systems and knowledge of indigenous peoples often leave no one behind.
Roy reiterated that while indigenous peoples are not vulnerable, they are often put in a position of vulnerability in many countries worldwide. Often, this exploitation of their rights is due to the absence of proper laws that protect their lands. For this to change, he advocated an intercultural approach in education in schools and universities.
Roy requested the UN to set up an autonomously managed ‘indigenous peoples trust fund’ to revitalise their food systems. He also voiced his strong support for women empowerment, citing examples of how matriarchal indigenous communities are socially egalitarian, economically balanced and politically based on consensus building.