World Bank Sets the Stage for Stronger Engagement with Indigenous Peoples at a Historic UNPFII Session

June 14, 2013


Luis Felipe Duchicela (far right) and Forum members

NEW YORK - At the 12th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the World Bank announced that it will conduct a comprehensive dialogue with indigenous peoples beginning July. The dialogue will inform the review process for updating the Bank’s safeguard policies that includes the indigenous peoples policy OP 4.10.

Luis Felipe Duchicela, senior advisor on indigenous peoples, said the planning for this dialogue began in March, and the methodology has been agreed upon with the indigenous peoples in the various regions of the world. He also announced that the World Bank will establish an Indigenous Peoples Advisory Council to meet the request made to the Bank during last year's session of the Permanent Forum. The Advisory Council would help improve communication and coordination between the Bank and indigenous peoples and ensure implementation of policies and strategies.

" This dialogue presents itself as a unique opportunity to consider the needs and aspirations of indigenous peoples and translate those into policies and strategies of the Bank "

Luis Felipe Duchicela

Senior Advisor, Social Development

The Forum members' main concern during the session was whether the Bank's policies fully support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and adopt the International Labor Organization Convention No. 169 (ILO 169) and Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC). The Bank and the Forum members also discussed a range of issues from land and climate change to development and implementation. 

During a lunch meeting with Forum members, Cyprian Fisiy, director of the Social Development Department, focused on three objectives for the dialogue process: how to maintain constructive engagement with indigenous people, how to have informed engagement, and how to include the indigenous people within existing political, cultural and social spaces. 

"We feel that it's important to be present to hear your concerns and to work with you to find common solutions going forward," Fisiy said to the Forum members. 

Among the conclusions from the UNPFII session was the Bank's commitment to consider the UNDRIP, ILO 169, and FPIC in the process of updating the Bank's indigenous peoples policy OP 4.10 and to plan for a high level meeting in regards to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September 2014.  The Bank also requested that the Forum appoint a Working Group to participate in the dialogue as of July and eventually establish the Indigenous Peoples Advisory Council for the Bank.

"We have listened carefully and also hope that you have heard clearly of our commitment to engage - and to do it directly, without intermediaries and through an open, transparent, sincere but realistic way," Duchicela said. "We have been taking many actions, and in the end, actions are what count."