The annual United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues opened on Monday, April 19, with a call from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for Member States to promote development while respecting the values and traditions of indigenous peoples. “The loss of irreplaceable cultural practices and means of artistic expression makes us all poorer, wherever our roots may lie,” the Secretary-General highlighted. “Indigenous cultures, languages and ways of life are under constant threat from climate change, armed conflict, lack of educational opportunities, and discrimination… Elsewhere, your cultures are being distorted, commodified and used to generate profits which do not benefit indigenous people, and can even lead to harm.” During the first day of the meeting, New Zealand announced that it will reverse its decision and support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). According to an article by IPS, indigenous leaders attending the forum described the shift in New Zealand’s policy, together with the recent endorsement of UNDRIP by Australia, as a positive sign for the struggle of indigenous peoples to protect their lands, resources, cultures, and languages. Read the UN news release here.