"The loss of irreplaceable cultural practices and means of artistic expression makes us all poorer, wherever our roots may lie," Mr. Ban told the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. This year's theme at the forum is "Development with Culture and Identity."
In a surprise proclamation, the government of New Zealand announced that it has decided to reverse its 2007 decision and support the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. New Zealand was one of four countries - the others being Australia, Canada and the United States - that voted against the Declaration. Australia reversed its decision last year.
The Declaration outlines the rights of the world's estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlaws discrimination against them.
Approximately 2000 participants are expected to take part in the Forum over the next two-weeks, including indigenous representatives, Member States, UN agencies, academic institutions, and civil society groups. Among the many indigenous delegates are Mildred Karaira Gandia a representative for the United Confederation of Taino People and Damon Gerard Corrie of the Eagle Clan Arawaks of Barbados and Guyana.
"We are here to advocate for Caribbean Indigenous Peoples" stated Gandia. "Our communities are often ignored in the larger discussions".
Both Gandia and Corrie are taking part in a special training program organized by the Tribal Link Foundation and the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Indigenous peoples are estimated to make up five per cent of the world's population, but some 33 per cent of the world's poor, according to State of the World's Indigenous Peoples, released in January and the first UN report of its kind.