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Building a more inclusive, sustainable future

There are more than 370 million self-identified indigenous people in some 70 countries around the world. But, far too often, they continue to face discrimination and their voices continue to go unheard. 

Indigenous people have been dispossessed of their lands, territories and resources over centuries, and as a result, have often lost control over their way of life. Worldwide, they account for 5 per cent of the population, but represent 15 per cent of those living in poverty. 

Invaluable knowledge for a changing planet

Indigenous peoples have a special role to play in the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. Their in-depth, varied and locally rooted knowledge can help the world  adapt to, and mitigate, the consequences of climate change.  

Indigenous peoples have unique food systems anchored in sustainable livelihood practices, which are adapted to the specific ecosystems of their territories. 

Women, in particular, are full of untapped potential as stewards of natural resources and biodiversity. They are guardians of cultural diversity and peace brokers in conflict resolution.

At a community level and on the world stage

In line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and particularly its pledge to “leave no one behind”, IFAD supports indigenous peoples’ self-driven development through projects that strengthen their culture, identity, knowledge, natural resources, intellectual property and human rights. 

Since 2007, the Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF) has provided small grants of up to US$50,000 for these projects, which improve the quality of life of indigenous peoples and stimulate economic development. 

In 2009, IFAD’s Executive Board approved the Policy on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples. It aims to enhance IFAD’s development effectiveness with indigenous peoples’ communities in rural areas, and to empower them to overcome poverty by building upon their identity and culture.

To convert policy commitments into action, IFAD has established an Indigenous Peoples' Forum, promoting dialogue and consultation among indigenous peoples' organizations and institutions, IFAD staff and Member States. 

The Forum has helped to set the strategic direction for IFAD’s engagement with indigenous peoples, which translates into the economic empowerment of indigenous peoples, especially women and youth.

Whether it is preserving cultural heritage, or ensuring indigenous communities have free, prior and informed consent to development projects, IFAD is guided by principles that promote indigenous knowledge and community-driven development in all our country strategies and policy dialogues, and throughout the project cycle.

Through the creation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum and IPAF, strong partnerships, built on trust, have been established between IFAD and indigenous peoples’ organizations, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and other like-minded organizations that support indigenous peoples. 

Spotlight

Making local crops work for nutrition-sensitive agriculture

A new framework will guide practitioners to use a broad portfolio of crop species to bring nutrition back to the table.

Projects

Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

Proyecto de desarrollo sostenible de los pueblos indígenas del Beni (PRODESIB)
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Mexico

Sustainable Development Project for Communities in Semiarid Areas
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United Republic of Tanzania

Agricultural Marketing Systems Development Programme
Read More

Related news

Forum leaders call on governments to recognize the contributions of indigenous peoples in the fight against climate change

February 2019 - NEWS
Leaders attending the 4th Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum, held at the International Fund for Agricultural Development's (IFAD's) headquarters, called on governments to recognise indigenous peoples’ contributions in the fight to reduce the impacts of climate change and encourage sustainable development around the world.

Harnessing indigenous peoples' knowledge for a food-secure future in the face of climate change

February 2019 - NEWS
The fourth global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) promotes indigenous peoples' knowledge and innovations for climate resilience and sustainable development.

Investing in the potential of rural entrepreneurs

May 2018 - NEWS
Charlotte Salford, Associate Vice-President of External Relations and Governance at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is in the Philippines this week to visit an IFAD-supported project that is assisting more than 300,000 smallholder farmers, rural youth, indigenous peoples and women to become highly productive and competitive entrepreneurs in agriculture.

Related publications

Policy brief: Partnering with indigenous peoples for the SDGs

October 2019
The involvement of indigenous peoples is key to achieving the ambitions of the SDGs.

Supporting nutrition-sensitive agriculture through neglected and underutilized species: Operational framework

August 2019
Agrobiodiversity is a resource that supports human and environmental wellbeing. IFAD’s support for the better use of agrobiodiversity with specific reference to neglected and underutilized species (NUS).

Closing the gaps: Public policy note for the inclusion of a gender and intercultural perspective in agriculture and rural development

June 2019

The purpose of this note is to support dialogue to consider the gender equality approach and the cultural approach in policies for food security, productivity, and rural development. 

Related documents