• Indigenous Peoples are culturally distinct societies and communities. The land on which they live and the natural resources on which they depend are inextricably linked to their identities, cultures, livelihoods, as well as their physical and spiritual well-being.

    There are approximately 370 million Indigenous Peoples worldwide, in over 90 countries. Although they make up 5 percent of the global population, they account for about 15 percent of the extreme poor.

    While Indigenous Peoples own, occupy or use a quarter of the world’s surface area, they safeguard 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity. They hold vital ancestral knowledge and expertise on how to adapt, mitigate, and reduce risks from climate change and natural disasters.  However, only a fraction of these lands are officially recognized by states, whether they are lands Indigenous Peoples traditionally owned or possessed under customary title.

    Access to tenure, capacity building, good resource governance, among other interventions will aid in improving their situation. The World Bank works with Indigenous Peoples to enhance their sustainable economic growth and livelihoods, culturally appropriate conservation and development, as well as strategies to address multiple sources of disadvantage, taking into account their views and development needs.

    Over the last 20 years Indigenous Peoples’ rights have been increasingly recognized through the adoption of international instruments and mechanisms, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007, the establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNSR).

    Last Updated: Sep 22, 2017

  • The World Bank continues to deepen its understanding of Indigenous Peoples’ priorities, needs, and issues at the country and regional levels through direct dialogue with Indigenous Peoples’ organizations at the global, regional and national levels, through analytical studies and the implementation of projects and programs that involve participation of Indigenous Peoples.

    Each year the World Bank participates in a number of international Indigenous Peoples’ fora, including the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). In building wider alliances with the international indigenous community, the Bank collaborates with several Indigenous Peoples organizations.


    The Bank is committed to both strengthening country capacity to enhance effective engagement with Indigenous Peoples, and to building the capacity of Indigenous Peoples organizations. This support includes a Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM) for Indigenous Peoples and local communities funded by the Forest Investment Program (FIP); a Capacity Building Program for Forest-Dependent Indigenous Peoples by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF); as well as global, regional, and local consultations in the context of the FCPF. Selected through the UNPFII, Indigenous Peoples are also observers to the Climate Investment Funds (CIF).

    Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change

    Indigenous Peoples are disproportionally vulnerable to the impacts of climate change since they often live in environmentally sensitive ecosystems – such as the Arctic region, tropical forests, grasslands, mountains, or deserts – and frequently depend on surrounding biodiversity for subsistence as well as cultural survival. The World Bank aims to build on Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge when assisting countries in developing strategies to adapt to changing environmental patterns and conditions.

    This is particularly relevant to the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD+) agenda, where – given their close relationships with and dependence on forested lands and resources – Indigenous Peoples are key stakeholders.

    The REDD+ readiness process that countries carry out with support of the FCPF has deepened the participation of and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, and has led to the establishment of engagement platforms in many participating countries. Some examples include:

    • In Cameroon, civil society organizations worked with the REDD+ and Climate Change Platform in 2013 to reach out to 30 sub-districts to enhance the full, direct, and effective participation of indigenous and local communities in REDD+.
    • From 2012 to 2014, the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) worked to boost the participation of indigenous and rural communities living in the Terai Hill and Mountain areas in REDD+ consultation and decision-making processes.

    Indigenous Peoples and the Review and Update of the World Bank’s Safeguard Policies

    In an effort to address new development demands and challenges, from 2012 to 2016 the Bank undertook an extensive review process to update and consolidate the Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies – and Indigenous Peoples were an integral part of the dialogue around this review.

    The three consultation phases of the safeguards review included a number of dedicated Indigenous Peoples Dialogue sessions, yielding a high level of participation, information gathered, and a renewed and stronger relationship between the World Bank and Indigenous Peoples.

    On August 4, 2016, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a new Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) that expands protections for people and the environment in Bank-financed investment projects.

    The ESF includes an Environmental and Social Standard (ESS) 7 for Indigenous Peoples/Sub-Saharan African Historically Underserved Traditional Local Communities, which introduces the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

    ESS7 contributes to poverty reduction and sustainable development by ensuring that projects supported by the Bank enhance opportunities for Indigenous Peoples/Sub-Saharan African Historically Underserved Traditional Local Communities to participate in, and benefit from, the development process in ways that do not threaten their unique cultural identities and well-being.

    Indigenous Peoples will continue to be a crucial partner in the roll-out and implementation of the ESF.

    Last Updated: Sep 22, 2017

  • Increased engagement and dialogue and awareness of Indigenous Peoples’ rights have yielded results at the global, regional, country and community levels. Examples include:

    • The Indigenous Peoples Development in World Bank-Financed Projects: Our People, Our Resources: Striving for a Peaceful and Plentiful Planet (April 2015) report showcases eight case studies from Latin America, Asia, and Africa that produced tangible benefits to Indigenous Peoples and their communities.
    • The Indigenous Latin America in the Twenty-First Century (February 2016) report expands our understating on the situation of Indigenous Peoples in the region.  Despite important socio-economic gains and increased recognition of their rights in national legislation, Indigenous Peoples are still disproportionately affected by poverty, and continue to face widespread economic and social exclusion.
    • As part of its 2018 - 2022 Country Partnership Framework with Vietnam, the World Bank will broaden economic participation of ethnic minorities, women, and vulnerable groups through a multi-sectoral engagement with a particular focus on livelihood- and-income generating activities that benefit ethnic minorities.
    • In Central Africa, the Bank is working with REPALEAC, the Network of Indigenous and Local Communities for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems, to strengthen capacity through a multi-stakeholder dialogue with government entities, donors, and NGOs. REPALEAC has strengthened capacities and produced a Strategic Framework that defines needs and targets in the areas of land governance, natural resource management, sustainable livelihoods, cultural and climate resilience, and the realization of rights.
    • In Panama, the Bank is preparing the first loan in more than 20 years to a country for a national Indigenous Peoples development plan. Jointly developed by Indigenous Peoples, the government and World Bank, this project will aim to strengthen governance capacity and improve access to basic services and infrastructure in accordance with the Indigenous Peoples’ vision and development priorities.
    • Since 2003, the Bank has been supporting Roma inclusion in Eastern Europe through knowledge-sharing and data generation, capacity-building programs, policy advice, and mainstreaming Roma inclusion in country operations. A Roma Sounding Board, whose members belong to Roma civil society organizations, has been created and will be supported by an Advisory Board with members from civil society, the private sector and government. 
    • In the Amazon region, activities funded by the Capacity Building Program of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) contributed to the collaborative mapping of 2,344 indigenous territories and 610 protected areas, comprising 52 percent of the Amazonian surface area, covering nine countries. The map promotes a more comprehensive and integrated vision of Amazonia, and highlights the crucial role that Amazonian indigenous territories and protected areas play in protecting the Amazonian ecosystem.
    • In Panama’s Darien region, the FCPF Capacity Building Program trained a pilot group of indigenous technicians on forest monitoring methods to calculate the amount of CO2 emissions per hectare from land-use and land-use change. The results indicate that this rapid, participatory, forest inventorying method effectively captures emissions levels, while promoting the participation of Indigenous Peoples. This initiative supports ongoing efforts to improve the technical capacity of the Indigenous Peoples involved in REDD+, and can serve as a model for future forest monitoring initiatives.

    Last Updated: Sep 22, 2017



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Kristyn Schrader-King