Indigenous peoples’ traditional food systems are among the most sustainable in the world, but are coming under threat from climate change, biodiversity collapse, and economic pressures, a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said Friday. The report, which examined eight Indigenous groups across four continents, found people are able to use ancestral knowledge to meet most of their food needs through hunting, gathering, fishing, pastoralism and shifting cultivation, along with adaptive practices including nomadism, without depleting resources or generating significant waste. But climate change-caused impacts, such as drought, loss of wildlife, and disrupted weather patterns, are threatening Indigenous groups’ ability to continue traditional practices. More than half a billion people across 80 countries are members of Indigenous groups, living on more than a third of Earth’s protected territories.
“Despite surviving for centuries, Indigenous Peoples’ agri-food systems are likely to disappear in the next years due to a number of drivers threatening their future,” said Juan Lucas Restrepo, Director-General of the Alliance of Bioversity-International and International Center for Tropical Agriculture, which partnered on the study. Added Yon Fernandez de Larrinoa, chief of the Indigenous Peoples Unit at the Food and Agriculture Organization: “We cannot destroy biodiversity and ecosystems and feed ourselves. Sooner or later we’re going to have more effects from climate change and pandemics.” (Reuters, InsideClimate News, UN News; Study: UN FAO)