By Ms. Lucy Mulenkei, Chair of the Global Environment Facility’s Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group (IPAG)
Indigenous Peoples - and our knowledge, lands, cultures and traditions - are continually at risk both directly, due to development and investment activities, and indirectly, through environmental degradation, climate change, and natural disasters among other causes.
Indigenous Peoples understand the pivotal role that the GEF plays - as the financial mechanism to many Multilateral Environmental Agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and Minamata Convention on Mercury - in financing sustainable development and the protection of our global environment. So it is invaluable that the GEF has recognized the imperative to partner with Indigenous Peoples and their local communities (IPLCs) to achieve its mission successfully.
The GEF has incorporated Indigenous Peoples into its work since its inception. It has demonstrated strong leadership and influence in the international community, especially by revising its programs, processes, safeguard policies and projects to address many Indigenous Peoples’ concerns. In recent years especially, we’ve seen the GEF’s efforts to enhance meaningful dialogue and partnership first hand. It is piloting innovative initiatives that continue to partner with Indigenous Peoples in support of sustainable development, including: establishing an Advisory Group; supporting activities that build capacity among Indigenous Peoples to access GEF project financing; updating operations and policies; promoting best practices in GEF projects; and supporting an Indigenous Peoples Fellowship programme through the Small Grants Programme.
It has been a great pleasure to witness this strengthened relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the GEF. IPAG is working hard, as a team, to see how the GEF can provide special financial support for IPLCs. Indeed – while congratulating it on its 25th anniversary I see great opportunities for amazing outcomes as I look ahead to the next 25 years. We look forward to building on the existing trust and dialogue, and applying the knowledge and experience of the past quarter of a century to make strong investments that secure the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the protection of our global environment.