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Indigenous Peoples Food Systems

Demonstrating that People and Landscapes Thrive under Indigenous Peoples Food Systems

The planet is facing unprecedented environmental and climate threats as a result of human activities. Global food production is among the leading causes of global environmental and climate change. Agriculture accounts for the largest use of land on the planet and contributes as much as 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions and almost 70% of anthropogenic freshwater use. Globally, agriculture is a major driver of biodiversity loss and declining ecosystem services.

The UN Food Systems Summit and other recent policy discussions have recognized that Indigenous Peoples are well-placed to provide expert contributions to debates on sustainable food systems. However, there is a dearth of evidence of Indigenous People’s Food Systems (IPFS) on which to derive effective food policy. Much of the existing evidence on IPFS is fragmented, unstandardised, highly context specific, has been deemed to have limited utility for policy.


This 28-month research project, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, titled “Demonstrating People and Landscapes thrive under Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems”, began in September 2022 and will run until December 2024. It seeks to address important evidence gaps relating to IPFS and their contributions to current debates around global food system sustainability. In doing so, it seeks to support narrative change and positive policy action to promote and enhance IPFS.


Working with Indigenous Peoples’ communities  in Kenya, Thailand, Mexico and India, the project has three key objectives:


  1. Generate evidence that characterises IPFS according to multiple dimensions of food systems performance and document their outcomes.

  2. Build capacity amongst Indigenous researchers, especially Indigenous youth, to gather and present robust evidence on their food systems.

  3. Document best food system practices within IPFS, understand what lessons can be learned from these, and derive a roadmap for up-scaling best practices to less sustainable food systems.



TIP is pleased to be partnering with four Indigenous-led organisations for this work:

  • Ogiek Peoples Development Programme (OPDP) in Kenya.

  • PASD in Northern Thailand

  • Glocal Bej in Quintana Roo, Mexico

  • Northeast Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS) in northeast India.



Methods and Activities

The Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE) methodology, launched by FAO in 2019, is the primary instrument used for this project. As a research tool, TAPE can be used to produce global and harmonized evidence on the multidimensional performance of agroecology and its potential to contribute to sustainable food systems. Since its inception, TAPE has been endorsed on the global stage by the Committee on World Food Security and by prominent academics in agroecology. Whilst designed for use in diverse contexts, TIP has made some adaptations to the instrument to make it more suitable for use in IPFS. These changes capture the unique and valuable qualities of IPFS, including diversity, use of natural systems, aspects of resilience and unique systems of governance.


Alongside TAPE, the project will use storytelling as a qualitative, participatory research method. The collection of stories will complement the results of TAPE and explain the rich values and knowledges that underpin sustainable IPFS.


The final outcomes of this work will be published in written form, and also presented at an international summit of Indigenous Peoples in November 2024. As well as sharing results, the Summit will be an immersive experience that will celebrate and champion IPFS and other best food system practices for people and nature.

participatory videos
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