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Building a more inclusive, sustainable future

It is estimated that there are more than 476 million self-identified indigenous people in some 90 countries around the world. But, far too often, they continue to face discrimination and their voices continue to go unheard. 

Indigenous peoples 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 6 per cent of the population, but represent more than 18 per cent of those living in extreme 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

Indigenous knowledge – and resilience – in a COVID-19 world

It is increasingly clear that human health and our relationship with nature are inescapably intertwined. This holds true across many dimensions of health, including the potential for the transmission of disease – just as we are seeing with the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

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
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New Report: Investments in indigenous peoples, youth and women essential to fight climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean

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Development projects that integrate investments in rural indigenous peoples, youth and women with measures to adapt to climate change are more likely to be successful in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a new report launched today by IFAD.

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

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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.

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Development projects that integrate investments in rural indigenous people, youth and women with measures to adapt to climate change are more likely to be successful in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a new report launched today by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

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