The vision of an Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace was inspired by Indigenous Elders. While much discussion has been about the threat (and in some places a reality) of water and war, traditional Indigenous teachings about water share about peaceful co-existence between mankind and nature, and between nations.
Since 1999, this vision has been in development. It was presented at the World Water Forum in 2003, and endorsed by Indigenous peoples at the 2006 World Water Forum. In 2007, a presentation was made to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York by an Indigenous Caucus on water for support from UN nation states and UN agencies. The recommendation was adopted in the final report by the Secretariat. Although the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum supported this call, there was no response from the nation states nor UN agencies.
In 2008, a meeting was convened on Coast Salish territory, (Beecher Bay, BC) that brought together Indigenous elders and leaders from various parts of the globe. This group volunteered as an Advisory Body. In all, 60 Indigenous organizations globally supported this vision, and it was also presented at the UN Expert Mechanism on Human Rights in Geneva, in August of 2009. UN agencies including UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP and UNEP were all approached for support. These agencies were supportive in principle, but do not have funds to contribute. UNESCO Canada contributed funds for the Secretariat to participate in The World Water Forum (Istanbul, Turkey, March, 2009), in which a traditional panel presented. However, their recommendations were not included in the World water Forum’s final report.
It is proposed that the first Indigenous Peoples World Forum on Water and Peace will be held in the fall of 2014. We wish to have participation from 8 regions of the world, in sync with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Transparency and maximum participation is valued. This vision was also presented in Geneva at the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.