Slow Food President Carlo Petrini was in New York last month to speak at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). As the first outside speaker to be invited to address the floor in the Forum’s ten-year-history, usually reserved solely for Indigenous, governmental or UN representatives, Petrini was honored to offer Slow Food’s perspective during the session on the right to food and food sovereignty on May 14.
“For twenty-five years now, Slow Food has sought to preserve agricultural and food biodiversity as a tool for ensuring a future for our planet and humanity as a whole,” Petrini began. “It is necessary to point out, though, that it would be senseless to defend biodiversity without also defending the cultural diversity of peoples and their right to govern their own territories. The right of peoples to have control over their land, to grow food, to hunt, fish and gather according to their own needs and decisions, is inalienable. This diversity is the greatest creative force on earth, the only condition possible for the maintenance and transmission of an outstanding heritage of knowledge to future generations.”
Petrini went on to speak about the work Slow Food is doing to support Indigenous communities through its Foundation for Biodiversity projects and Terra Madre network of food communities, emphasizing that looking back at our traditions and more sustainable food systems is “by no means idle nostalgia” and that the reintroduction of local food products is essential for the feeding of the planet.
The invitation for Petrini to speak at the Forum came through Slow Food’s participation in the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty. The Partnership, founded in 2010 and lead by Mr. Phrang Roy, is a network of Indigenous communities and organizations committed to defining their own food and agricultural practices that sustain agrobiodiversity, assisted by scientists and policy researchers.
In 2011, Slow Food International along with Slow Food Sweden and Slow Food Sápmi organized the first Indigenous Terra Madre meeting in Jokmokk, Sweden, and a second edition is planned for 2014 in India.
Click here to read Petrini’s full speech.
Click here for more information on the current session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.