International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2020 – Theme and Significance

On 9 August every year, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed to raise awareness and to defend the rights of indigenous people around the world. This event also honors the accomplishments and sacrifices made by indigenous people to solve world issues such as the conservation of the environment.

The International Day of the Indigenous Peoples was declared for the first time in December 1994 by the General Assembly of the United Nations which was held each year during the first International Decade of the Indigenous Peoples of the World (1995-2004). In 2004, the Assembly proclaimed, from 2005 to 2015, a Second International Decade under the theme of ‘Decade for Action and Dignity.’

Theme of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2020

The theme this year is “COVID-19 and indigenous peoples’ resilience.” A virtual forum will include a panel discussion on inventive ways in which indigenous communities continue to show resilience and strength in the face of the pandemic despite facing significant challenges to their survival.

Indigenous peoples are still facing a number of challenges and the new unfortunate reality is that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are only fuelling such challenges.

The indigenous people still have inadequate access to health care, considerably increased disease levels, lack of access to basic facilities, sanitation and other primary preventive steps, such as clean water , soap, disinfectant and so forth. Likewise, most local medical facilities are still under-equipped and under-employed. Even if indigenous people can access health care, they can face prejudice and stigma. A crucial element is the provision, as relevant to the particular circumstance of indigenous peoples, of services and facilities in indigenous languages.

Due to lockdowns in various countries without a plan in sight, indigenous people who already face food shortages are facing severe challenges because they have lost their traditional lands and territories. The loss of their traditional livelihoods, often terrestrial, will negatively affect many indigenous peoples working in traditional occupations and subsistence economies or the informal sector.

According to the International Labor Organization, there are some 476,6 million indigenous people in 90 countries worldwide, belonging to 5,000 ethnic communities.

In order to raise awareness of the needs of indigenous people, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is celebrated every 9 August. They need us particularly now. We need the traditional wisdom, voices and awareness of the indigenous peoples particularly now.

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