UNDP seeks stronger role for indigenous peoples in the Philippines

23 Feb 2010

MANILA  – The problems faced by about 14-17 million indigenous peoples (IPs) in the Philippines require interventions that are integrated and holistic, rather than stop-gap and piece-meal.  Thus, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched on 9 February a program that brings together stakeholders from relevant areas to zero in on cross-cutting issues as peace building, environmental justice and good governance.

The UNDP program, “Strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Development” (SIPRD), focuses on securing the rights of IPs and strengthening their stake in resource management, particularly on their ancestral lands, including the sustainable use, management and protection of these lands.  In effect, it supports good governance principles and promotes indigenous peace-keeping mechanisms to avoid costly and harmful armed conflicts.

According to Renaud Meyer, UNDP Country Director, “UNDP is uniquely suited to bring together stakeholders from relevant areas to work together,“ as he added that the program is “part of UNDP’s larger involvement in the UN’s drive for a comprehensive, multi-agency UN System response to the challenges faced by IPs in the country.”

The SIPRD is designed to provide UNDP and other agencies a framework through which responses to IP problems can be synergistically channeled, drawing on the resources of the entire UN System in the Philippines.

“The UN is now exploring ways wherein organizations like the ILO, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, UNIFEM, WFP, UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and the World Bank can better integrate for greater program effectiveness,” Meyer continued.
                
Priority work will be the nationwide population census of IPs to be conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO), in collaboration with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).  The national census, for the first time, will now include disaggregated data on IPs, significantly providing a clearer picture of where interventions are most needed.

The SPIRD Project Document was signed in appropriate ceremonies, following the Manila launch of the first-ever State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (SOWIP) Report.  The SOWIP is produced by the New York-based Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and covered such areas as health, poverty, education and human rights.   

Project signatories included NCIP Chair Eugenio Insigne; National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Management Staff Director Jocelyn Jocelyn Reyes, representing Deputy Director General Rolando Tungpalan; and UNDP Country Director Renaud Meyer.  

A new phase of assistance

To date, UNDP Philippines has undertaken 35 IP-focused projects, which have together assisted 28 distinct ethno-linguistic groups in 12 regions and 21 provinces throughout the Philippines.

Among other milestones, the projects have resulted in the drafting of 10 ancestral domain plans, which institutionalize sustainable development plans, and guarantee the right of IPs to manage their ancestral lands.

These projects have been funded through various sources, including the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The deeply interconnected nature of the problems facing IPs means that the most effective responses occur through the cooperation of involved agencies.

Emmanuel Buendia, Team Leader for the UNDP Philippines portfolio on Fostering Democratic Governance, said that “the SIPRD will integrate and build on current responses and help facilitate greater mainstreaming of IP concerns across the development agenda.”

After a decade of supporting the development of IPs in the country, UNDP and the UN System as a whole, is bringing assistance to a new level through increased regional and international collaboration.

“Building on extensive local, regional and global work in human development, advocacy of democratic governance, and mainstreaming human rights, UNDP and the UN System aim to provide opportunities and space for the voices and aspirations of marginalized indigenous peoples,” Director Meyer said.

For more information, please contact:

Mitchell P. Duran, UNDP Communications Officer
mitchell.duran@undp.org; (632) 901.0239
Mobile Phone No. +63917.8242554