8 December 2003


NEW YORK, 5 December (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) -- Information and communication technologies (ICT) like the Internet are creating social, economic and cultural opportunities for indigenous peoples around the world.  To explore the potential of ICT for indigenous communities, the Global Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society, to be held in Geneva from 8 to 11 December, will address topics ranging from e-health, e-learning, cultural preservation through digital media, and citizen empowerment. 

The Forum, a parallel event to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), will be one of the Summit’s largest official events, with more than 150 participants, some 15 themes and 60 presentations.

“The value of information technology becomes most apparent when we examine how it is benefiting indigenous communities, particularly those in remote locations”, said Alain Clerc of the WSIS secretariat.  “This Forum is a key component of this year’s events and I look forward to the important work that will arise from this meeting.”

The event is being facilitated by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in partnership with the World Summit secretariat.  It will bring together some 150 key stakeholders from around the world, including indigenous leaders, indigenous people who use information technology in their communities, governments, and representatives from the private sector and international financial institutions.  Indigenous ICT practitioners from around the world will be presenting or discussing many of their own unique applications and challenges.

“This event is a chance for indigenous people around the world to become engaged with the World Summit on the Information Society”, said Ole-Henrik Magga, Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  “By discussing opportunities and challenges facing people around the world, we are creating solutions that will help indigenous peoples move forward in meaningful ways.”

“Indigenous peoples face unique challenges in the implementation of information technology”, said Indigenous Australian Youth representative Melita Berthaley.  “It is vital that we have a forum to present our experiences and vision for the future, and we are pleased to be participating in this important event.”

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues secretariat assists the Permanent Forum in carrying out its mandate, which covers the six areas of economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.  It provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and to United Nations programmes, funds and agencies, and helps to raise awareness of indigenous issues within the United Nations system.

For more information, contact:  John Scott, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, e-mail:  Scott9@un.org, Geneva mobile:  41 (0) 79 615 4980; or Edoardo Bellando, United Nations Department of Public Information, mobile:  1 917 476 2015; or Pragati Pascale, mobile:  1 917 476-0418.  Web sites:





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