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Indigenous peoples

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.

Indigenous 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 Sustainable Development Goals, the UN’s pledge to “leave no one behind”, and the framework of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, IFAD supports indigenous peoples’ self-driven development through projects that build their culture, identity, knowledge, natural resources, intellectual property, and human rights.

Since 2007, the Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF) has financed small grants of up to US$50,000 for projects that are designed and implemented by indigenous peoples’ communities to improve their well-being based on their worldview and aspirations.

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

To convert policy commitments into action, the Indigenous Peoples' Forum at IFAD promotes dialogue and consultation among indigenous peoples' organizations and institutions, IFAD staff, and Member States. The Forum helps set the strategic direction for IFAD’s engagement with indigenous peoples, especially indigenous women and youth.

Whether preserving cultural heritage or adapting to climate change, IFAD is guided by the principle of free, prior, and informed consent. In this way, indigenous peoples’ knowledge and community-driven development is reflected in projects, country strategies, and policy dialogues.

This participatory approach creates strong, trusting partnerships between IFAD, indigenous peoples’ organizations, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues, and like-minded organizations that support indigenous peoples.

Spotlight

Spotlight

How agrobiodiversity can nourish the planet

For our people and planet to flourish, we need agrobiodiversity: agricultural systems that enhance our wealth of ecosystems and living beings instead of diminishing it. Our work has long recognized the importance of agrobiodiversity for sustainable food systems, and now we’re taking this commitment even further.

Projects

Projects

Philippines

Rural Agro-enterprise Partnerships for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID)

Brazil

Policy Coordination and Dialogue for Reducing Poverty and Inequalities in Semi-Arid North-east Brazil

Kenya

Kenya Livestock Commercialization Project

Asset Publisher

Experts

Lorenzo Del Castillo

Consultant - Indigenous Peoples, Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division, IFAD

l.delcastillo@ifad.org

Ilaria Firmian

Lead Technical Specialist - Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Issues

i.firmian@ifad.org

Margherita Loddoni

Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division, IFAD

m.loddoni@ifad.org

Stories and news

Stories and news

It’s time to end violence against rural women

November 2022 - STORY
Violence against women is one of the greatest barriers to sustainable development. On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let's reaffirm commitments to eliminate and prevent gender-based violence.  

Saving the Amazon: The story of the indigenous women fighting climate change

November 2022 - STORY
In the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, a group of indigenous women are fighting climate change through reforestation and ancestral farming techniques.  

Recipes for Change: A conversation with Chef Shane Chartrand

June 2021 - STORY
For over a decade, Chef Shane Chartrand has been on a personal and culinary journey: figuring out what it means to be of Cree descent and of Métis upbringing, and how to integrate that into being a professional chef living and working in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on Treaty 6 territory.

2022 Call for Nominations: IFAD Indigenous Peoples Awards

September 2022 - NEWS
The Indigenous Peoples Awards recognize the efforts and the achievements of development projects that successfully engage with indigenous peoples or ethnic minorities living in rural areas. They promote best practices, share knowledge and identify opportunities to replicate and scale-up results.

Related videos

Indigenous Peoples View more link

Related publications

Related publications

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

August 2019
IFAD’s support for the better use of agrobiodiversity with specific reference to neglected and underutilized species (NUS) and a greater recognition of the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples are important for fighting food and nutrition insecurity

Sustainable and resilient Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems for improved nutrition

May 2022
This toolbox provides guidelines on how to design and assess food biodiversity and dietary diversity projects with local communities, with the aim of improving the diets and nutrition of Indigenous Peoples.

The Traditional Knowledge Advantage: Indigenous peoples’ knowledge in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies

April 2016
Higher temperatures, wildlife extinction, rising sea levels, droughts, floods, heat-related diseases and economic losses are among the consequences of climate change. Climate change disproportionally affects the poorest and most marginalized communities living in vulnerable regions, among them indigenous peoples, whose livelihoods depend on natural resources.

Related documents

Related documents