The Twelfth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) opened on Monday, 20 May 2013 at the UN General Assembly Hall in New York. The opening address was delivered by Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Mr Wu Hongbo, who also facilitated the ceremonial handing over of the baton of chairmanship by Grand Chief Edward John of the Tl’azt’en Nation in northern British Columbia, Canada to Mr Kanyinke Sena of the Ogiek Community in Kenya . Mr Sena is the first African elected to serve as chair for the UNPFII.
Over 2000 indigenous delegates are expected to attend the two-week meeting to address indigenous issues around health, education, culture and human rights. A half-day discussion on the Africa region, in particular, the study on resilience, traditional knowledge and capacity-building for pastoralist communities in Africa as well as a review of the World Bank operational policies are among the other topics to be discussed. The various side-events held on the first day of the session included topics on violence against women, the institutionalisation of inter-cultural reproductive health for indigenous women and youth, training on effective and meaningful participation in the the UNPFII, and the screening of a documentary film produced by an indigenous filmmaker.