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Pope Francis' Invitation: Reconcile Development and Protection of Indigenous Peoples

Before General Audience, Holy Father Met With Participants in the Third Forum of Indigenous Peoples

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Pope Francis met this morning with representatives of the indigenous peoples who took part in the Third Forum dedicated to them, convoked by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which this year observes the 40th anniversary of its institution.
In the course of the forum, which took place in Rome, discussions were held to point out ways for greater economic responsibility for native peoples.
“I believe the essential problem is how to reconcile the right to development, including social and cultural development, with the protection of the characteristics proper to the natives and their territories,” said the Pontiff, stressing that “this is evident especially when economic activities are structured that can interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relation with the earth.”
In this context, according to Francis, the right to previous and informed consensus should prevail, as provided in Article 32 of the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Only thus, is it possible to ensure a peaceful collaboration between the government authorities and indigenous peoples, surmounting oppositions and conflicts.”
The Holy Father then encouraged the elaboration of guidelines and plans “that are inclusive of the indigenous identity, with special attention to young people and women.” For Pope Francis, it is about “inclusion and not only consideration!”
Hence, the invitation to Governments to “recognize that the native Communities are a component of the population that is appreciated and consulted, and favored with full participation at the local and national level.”
In this way, “IFAD can contribute with its funding and its competence, recognizing that (as is written in the Encyclical Laudato Si’), ‘a technological and economic development that does not leave a better world and an integrally superior quality of life, cannot be considered progress,” concluded the Pontiff.

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