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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. 


Education and its impact on global food systems

Rome, 9 August – In Nunavut, the northernmost territory in Canada, Inuit high-school graduation rates are well below average, and only 40 per cent of all school-age indigenous children are attending full time.




Proyecto de desarrollo sostenible de los pueblos indígenas del Beni (PRODESIB)
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Sustainable Development Project for Communities in Semiarid Areas
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Agricultural Marketing Systems Development Programme
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Related news

IPAF Call for Proposals 2018

veljača 2018 - NEWS
Established in 2006, the IFAD’s Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF) is a unique facility based on the principle of Indigenous Peoples' self-determined development within the framework of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

New IFAD grant supports efforts to help indigenous peoples find their own development path

prosinac 2017 - NEWS

The Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has recently approved a US$3 million grant in support of indigenous peoples' communities in developing countries for the period 2017-2020.

Development should consider indigenous cultures and their relationship to the earth, says Pope Francis in meeting with delegation from IFAD

veljača 2017 - NEWS
In a private meeting with indigenous peoples’ representatives, Pope Francis stressed the need to  reconcile development, both social and cultural, with the protection of indigenous peoples and their territories, "especially when planning economic activities that may interfere with their cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth," he said.

Related publications

Proceedings of the Third Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Forum at IFAD, 10-13 February 2017

veljača 2017
In late 2016, regional consultation workshops in preparation for the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum were held in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific, attended
by 97 representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations and institutions. During the workshops, participants assessed the progress of implementation of
the IFAD Policy on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples and reviewed the status of implementation of the recommendations of the second global meeting and the regional action plans agreed upon with IFAD regional divisions in 2015. Participants further had the opportunity to exchange knowledge and
experiences on good practices on indigenous peoples’ economic empowerment that build on their distinctive cultures, traditional knowledge and natural resources.  

Grant Results Sheet: Tebtebba - Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility: Asia and the Pacific

siječanj 2017
The IFAD Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF) is an innovative funding resource that indigenous communities can access to support their own solutions to development challenges. It supports self-driven development by investing in small projects that build on indigenous peoples’ culture, identity, knowledge, natural resources and income-generating activities. The goal of the IPAF programme is to empower indigenous peoples’ communities and their organizations in Asia and the Pacific to foster their self- driven development. 

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

studeni 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. Nevertheless, indigenous peoples are also the world’s “advance guard” of climate change (Galloway McLean 2010). While they are generally depicted as victims of poverty and vulnerability to climate change, it would also be appropriate to emphasize their sensitivity to the environment, adaptive capacity and resilience, as manifested by their ability to modify their behaviour in response to changing climatic conditions (Nakashima et al. 2012). Indigenous peoples’ knowledge can provide important insights into the processes of observation, adaptation and mitigation of climate change consequences.

Contact us

For questions please contact Antonella Cordone,

Senior Technical Specialist Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Issues,

+39 0654592065