On the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations spotlighted the theme of “Indigenous youth as agents of change for self-determination,” emphasizing the pivotal role of young Indigenous individuals in shaping their communities and the global landscape.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres echoed the significance of this year’s theme, underlining the profound impact that young Indigenous People are making across various domains, including climate action, human rights advocacy, and cultural preservation.
Guterres emphasized, “We celebrate young Indigenous Peoples, and their role in creating change and shaping the future.”
Indigenous communities have a long-standing connection to their ancestral lands, traditions, and cultures, often facing external threats such as encroachment, resource extraction, and limited acknowledgment of their rights. However, Guterres highlighted the resilience of young Indigenous individuals in resisting these challenges.
In an era marked by unprecedented global trials, the voices of young Indigenous leaders are emerging as catalysts for transformation, driving positive change within their communities and on a global scale.
“They are leaders in the global climate action movement. They advocate justice and equality, celebrate their cultures, advance human rights and raise awareness of Indigenous history and issues around the world,” Guterres affirmed.
Spread across 90 nations, an estimated 476 million Indigenous individuals inhabit our planet. Despite constituting less than five percent of the global population, they bear a disproportionate burden of economic inequality, accounting for 15 percent of the world’s poorest.
These diverse Indigenous communities encompass a rich tapestry of 5,000 distinct cultures and serve as the primary custodians of the majority of the world’s 7,000 languages. Their harmonious relationship with the environment and holistic approaches to development offer valuable insights for humanity.
In light of these contributions, Guterres stressed the necessity of involving young Indigenous People, both women and men, in decision-making processes. He underscored that the choices made today will profoundly influence the world of tomorrow.
The International Day was commemorated with a virtual event, during which several young Indigenous voices shared their perspectives and insights, shedding light on the vital role they play in shaping a more equitable and sustainable future.