Enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Self-Determination: Amplifying Indigenous Youth Voices

Read our statement at the UNPFII 2024: Enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ Self-Determination: Amplifying Indigenous Youth Voices.

Every voice matters, but are we listening enough? Over 50% of the Indigenous population is under the age of 29, each carrying a legacy and a vision for their communities’ future. Today, we spotlight the pivotal voices of these Indigenous youth, who are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but active change-makers today.

The FSC Indigenous Foundation is privileged to address the Twenty-Third Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, focusing on the pivotal theme: “Enhancing Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination in the context of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: emphasizing the voices of Indigenous youth.”

Empowering Indigenous Youth: A Path to Self-Determination

We acknowledge the vital role of Indigenous youth in driving sustainable development and advancing self-determination. Despite their critical importance, they often face barriers to participate in decision-making processes. To address this, the FSC Indigenous Foundation commits to:

  1. Enabling Participation: We facilitate the active involvement of Indigenous youth in governance, ensuring their voices lead efforts toward self-determination. 
  2. Knowledge Exchange and Development: We provide scholarships and training to equip Indigenous youth with business and leadership skills for a global stage.
  3. Integration of Indigenous Knowledge: Recognizing and integrating traditional knowledge of Indigenous youth in global discussions on climate change, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development.
  • Our Indigenous Fellowship Program allows Indigenous youth from around the world to exchange, dialogue, and strengthen their leadership and networks to implementation of a project in their communities in the areas of climate change, land rights, and Indigenous economies.

Urging Commitment to Self-Determination

We call upon all stakeholders to deepen their commitment to integrating the rights of Indigenous Peoples into policies, programs, and practices. The right to self-determination, enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is foundational for empowering Indigenous communities to manage their development according to their traditions, values, and aspirations. It is imperative to create frameworks supporting this right and prioritizing the voices of Indigenous youth in all decisions affecting their future.

Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship

Indigenous Peoples are crucial in addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, drought, and food insecurity due to their profound understanding of ecosystems and sustainable practices. Their stewardship exemplifies living in harmony with nature, offering invaluable lessons for global sustainability.

  • We are working with the Emberá and Wounaan Peoples of Panama to design and pilot a certification label as a mechanism to connect Indigenous Peoples with business opportunities that align with their cosmovision and nature conservation efforts.

Indigenous Rights: A Foundation for Equity and Conservation

Acknowledging Indigenous rights is fundamental for addressing historical injustices and ensuring their participation in society on equal footing. This recognition is crucial for global efforts in biodiversity conservation and combating climate change.

Role of Indigenous Women: Leadership in Sustainability

Indigenous women play a pivotal role in environmental sustainability and social justice. Their leadership and knowledge are essential for preserving cultural traditions and ecological wisdom.

  • Our Indigenous Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador supports positive actions to empower Indigenous women, youth, and girls to preserve, revitalize, and promote their culture and identity. We work with Indigenous women’s organizations and other partners generate enabling environments for Indigenous women’s active participation and advocacy and strengthen productive initiatives led by Indigenous women.

Land Rights: Upholding Collective Rights

Indigenous territories are vital for global solutions to climate change and sustainable livelihoods. The FSC Indigenous Foundation urges stakeholders to promote and uphold Indigenous Peoples’ collective right to land in policies and programs.

In conclusion, the FSC Indigenous Foundation remains steadfast in supporting Indigenous youth and advancing the right to self-determination. We invite all stakeholders to join us in this essential endeavor to shape a sustainable, just, and equitable future for all.

Engagement and Calls to Action

Act now! Join us in this critical movement to amplify the voices of Indigenous youth. Your support can open doors to conservation, business opportunities, restoration of landscapes, education, leadership, and advocacy.