There are roughly 300-500 million indigenous peoples in 90 countries around the world. They represent less than five per cent of the world’s population but make up 15 per cent of the poorest. Indigenous peoples speak over 7,000 languages and are a part of about 5,000 cultures.
On December 23, 1994, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 49/214 declaring August 9 to be International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. August 9 was chosen because the day marked the first meeting of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva in 1982. The goal of the Day is to promote awareness and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world. Indigenous peoples face multiple challenges in trying to maintain their unique political, social, and economic characteristics.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) strives to sustain the diversity of the world’s cultural and biological landscape. UNESCO marks the celebration of the Day by sharing information on projects and activities that are relevant to the annual theme. This year’s theme is Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract.