Investing in Indigenous Peoples essential to achieving SDGs – Min Sukhai tells UN forum

Investing in the Indigenous Peoples is essential to achieving sustainable development goals and creating a more inclusive, and equitable world.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai expressed these sentiments while delivering remarks at the 22nd Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The session is themed, Indigenous Peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health, and climate change: a rights-based approach.

“The full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People is important in addressing the systemic inequalities and discrimination they face,” she asserted.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Pauline Sukhai at the 22nd Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UN Headquarters, New York.

Minister Sukhai said the theme for this year’s forum underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive approach to address the complex and interconnected challenges experienced by the Indigenous Peoples.
It was highlighted that they face severe vulnerability to climate change and environmental degradation, which pose a potential threat to their existence.

“Despite their invaluable knowledge and practices that can contribute to the development of effective climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, Indigenous Peoples are among the least heard in global climate discussions.

“This forum plays a critical role in elevating Indigenous Peoples’ voices in climate change and sustainable development discussions, as their contributions go beyond their knowledge and practices, encompassing unique perspectives on social, economic, and cultural issues,” the minister emphasised.

She noted that world leaders must continue to ensure Indigenous Peoples’ meaningful involvement in decision-making processes to guarantee that their needs, priorities, and rights are accounted for and respected.

The minister highlighted that CARICOM is home to a number of indigenous communities and continues to play a vital role in the region’s social and economic development.

Minister Sukhai noted that the region had benefitted greatly from their knowledge of agriculture, medicine, and natural resource management.

“They also play an important role in one of the region’s most important economic sectors, tourism, by offering cultural experiences that not only support the local economy but also create employment opportunities for their communities and promote cultural awareness and understanding.”

To this end, she noted that CARICOM recognises these invaluable contributions and will continue to develop with Indigenous Peoples, policies and practices that promote sustainable development, environmental justice, and respect for human rights.