Skip to Content
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.


A year in review: Nurturing resilient rural communities in a time of change

2020 has been a tumultuous year. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone across the world – and meanwhile, the other challenges faced by rural people across the globe haven’t gone away. 


Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

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


Sustainable Development Project for Communities in Semiarid Areas
Read More

United Republic of Tanzania

Agricultural Marketing Systems Development Programme
Read More

Related news

Un total de 25 organizaciones impulsan una campaña para empoderar a las mujeres rurales, indígenas y afrodescendientes frente a la pandemia de COVID-19

July 2020 - NEWS
58 millones de mujeres viven en zonas rurales de América Latina y el Caribe; una parte importante de ellas juega un rol central en la producción y abastecimiento de alimentos

2020 Call for Nominations: Indigenous Peoples Awards

July 2020 - NEWS

IFAD launches the first call for nominations for the Indigenous Peoples Awards to recognize the efforts and the achievements of development projects that successfully engage with Indigenous Peoples or ethnic minorities living in rural areas.

Indigenous Peoples are crucial partners to build a better post–COVID-19 world, says IFAD President

July 2020 - NEWS
Indigenous Peoples and their unique knowledge are essential to address the COVID-19 outbreak and to build a more sustainable, resilient world.

Related publications

IFAD Policy Brief on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples

October 2020

Indigenous peoples, who often live in rural areas of developing countries and face high levels of poverty and food insecurity, are an important constituency for IFAD.

Participatory Guarantee System case study report

October 2020

In 2017, after several years of partnership between IFAD and Slow Food on themes related to food security, indigenous peoples and youth, IFAD approved a large grant project, called “Empowering Indigenous Youth and their Communities to Defend and Promote their Food Heritage,” to be implemented by Slow Food over three years.

The Latin America and Caribbean Advantage: Family farming – a critical success factor for resilient food security and nutrition

December 2019
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).

Related documents