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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Consult, respect indigenous peoples and their land, pope says

Development projects involving indigenous communities must be planned in consultation with them and must respect their traditional relationship to the land, Pope Francis said.

Having the “prior and informed consent” of the native communities who could be impacted by development projects is essential for “peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict,” the pope said during a meeting with about three dozen representative of indigenous communities on 15th February.

The representatives from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean were in Rome for continuing discussions with the UN-related International Fund for Agricultural Development. Their talks aim at ensuring development projects impacting native communities are carried out in consultation with them and that they respect their land, cultures and traditions.

“I believe that the central issue is how to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories,” the pope said. “This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth.”

Picture: Pope Francis waves during a meeting with participants in the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum of the International Fund for Agricultural Development at the Vatican on 15th February. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, handout).