Taking place each year on 9 August, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is a time to recognise the achievements and contributions made by Indigenous people, as well as to promote and protect the rights of the world’s Indigenous populations.
The commemoration was originally set aside by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, which took place in Geneva in 1982. This annual day is an opportunity to honour the strength, resilience, dignity and pride of Indigenous peoples around the world, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Theme for 2020: COVID-19 and Indigenous Peoples’ Resilience
Each year, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples has a different theme, with the 2020 theme being, “COVID-19 and Indigenous peoples’ resilience.” Amid COVID-19, it is more important than ever to safeguard Indigenous peoples and their knowledge, and many of these people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic.
Cultural lifestyles and practices such as large traditional gatherings to mark special events and multi-generational living arrangements can put Indigenous peoples and their families, especially the Elders, at risk. In addition, various other factors including food insecurity, the loss of their traditional lands and territories, their disadvantaged position in the labour market, poorer health outcomes and limited access to infrastructure and public services also increase the potential impact of the virus.
Nevertheless, Indigenous peoples around the world continue to show their ability to adapt and are demonstrating resilience and strength in the face of the pandemic.
As part of the observance, the UN’s Indigenous Peoples and Development Branch will be bringing together Indigenous peoples’ organisations, UN agencies, Member States, civil society and relevant stakeholders for an interactive webinar held on Monday, 10 August (EST). The virtual event will feature a panel discussion with several guest speakers and aims to highlight how the preservation and promotion of Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and practices can be leveraged more effectively during COVID-19.