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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. 

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

Spotlight

The Maasai of Kenya and the Red Maasai sheep slow food presidium

The rights of indigenous peoples to control their land according to their own needs and decisions is fundamental to protect their livelihoods and defend the biodiversity of native animal breeds and plant varieties.

Tags: INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, LIVESTOCK AND RANGELAND

Projects

Projects

Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

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

Mexico

Sustainable Development Project for Communities in Semiarid Areas

United Republic of Tanzania

Agricultural Marketing Systems Development Programme

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UN to involve millions of rural people in 2021 Food Systems Summit as part of ambitious public engagement process

February 2021 - NEWS
An unprecedented commitment to ensure that the voices and opinions of millions of the world’s most remote rural people are at the heart of the United Nations Food Systems Summit was announced today by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Agnes Kalibata and the President of IFAD, Gilbert F. Houngbo.

Indigenous Peoples are critical to build a more sustainable post-pandemic world, says IFAD President

February 2021 - NEWS
Indigenous Peoples have suffered disproportionately from the economic impacts of COVID-19, yet they hold essential knowledge for rebuilding a more sustainable and resilient post-pandemic world, free of poverty and hunger, said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, at the opening of the Fifth global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum today.

Invitation to Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD: How indigenous food systems can help build resilience to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

January 2021 - NEWS
This year, representatives from Indigenous Peoples’ groups from around 57 countries will meet with development organisations and governments to discuss ways to address challenges and opportunities.

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

Good practices in IFAD’s engagement with indigenous peoples

February 2021
This publication shares good practices for engagement with indigenous peoples as described in IFAD's investment projects as well as in the small projects financed through the Indigenous Peoples’ Assistance Facility (IPAF).

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.

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