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Carol Kalafatic

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination, food and livelihood security, and food sovereignty for local and global impact; bio-cultural diversity and resilience; governance of territories and natural resources for traditional foodways; dynamic heritage systems; community development and coalition building to transform structures that sustain the dominant food system into ones that sustain well-being; indigenous media.


Carol Kalafatic (Quechua, Spanish & Croatian) has been collaborating with Indigenous Peoples since 1991, as a policy advocate, organizer, trans-disciplinary scholar, and educator, to promote their self-determination, food sovereignty, and meaningful participation in policy making. Currently she works with sub-Arctic Indigenous Peoples who are asserting their rights and building coalitions to protect wild salmon habitat and fisheries. She also supports the Bameno Huaorani in protecting their territory from oil development in the Amazon in Ecuador.

She was recently nominated and served as Vice Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security - High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, and served for several years each as: Associate Director of Cornell University’s American Indian Program; Coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development; and Indigenous Focal Point of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty. She has been a consultant to a range of local-to-international organizations/agencies, and traditional Indigenous Peoples’ governments.

Through the workshops and meetings that she conducted, she played a major role in convincing the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to establish a Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. She was lead author of the framework for that policy, and for Indigenous and Tribal Peoples: Building on Biological and Cultural Diversity for Food and Livelihood Security. As Founding Coordinator of the International Indian Treaty Council’s Right to Food Program, she established the initiative to determine Cultural Indicators of Indigenous Peoples’ food and agroecological systems.

Carol has been a board member of justice organizations that support Indigenous Peoples and others who are marginalized or face violence from the dominant economic system. Most recently she contributed a chapter to Food Security Policy, Evaluation and Impact Assessment, forthcoming in Fall 2019 by Routledge.

Vision Statement

Indigenous Peoples’ well-being, on their own terms, relies on the health of their diverse cultures. In turn, their diverse cultures sustain and are inter-dependent with a large majority of biodiversity worldwide. Especially in these times of climate and governance crises, Indigenous Peoples’ revitalization of their millennial agroecological knowledge systems and practices is a form of local-level resistance that can also produce broader structural transformation. My research and practice aim to support such processes for their culturally-specific value and for building sustainable futures globally.

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