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.
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.
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.
IFAD and the government of the state of Maranhão launched today a project that seeks to address the pressing issue of environmental degradation of the Amazon Forest in Maranhão and the high rates of poverty and food insecurity in the region - the “Amazon Sustainable Management Project (PAGES).”
This publication explores the lessons we are learning from the Indigenous Peoples’ Livelihoods and Climate Resilience Programme, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
The Batwa in Rwanda were traditionally forest dwellers and hunters-gatherers living in the western part of the country. Today, the estimated 30,000 Batwa people are dispersed all over the country, often living in conditions of great hardship and poverty on the margins of mainstream society.