Approximately 370 million indigenous peoples live in more than 90 countries around the world. A significant fraction of the world’s priority areas — based on biodiversity and ecosystem importance — overlap with Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories and resources. This presents both enormous challenges and opportunities for the environment and indigenous peoples themselves. Read more+
Given the inextricable bond of indigenous peoples to the land, any loss of natural resources threatens their identity and impoverishes their communities. But indigenous peoples are not only victims of a deteriorating global environment: they are also a source of effective solutions.
The rich traditions and bountiful knowledge of Indigenous Peoples can help the world cope with changing environmental patterns and conditions. And since indigenous peoples are often particularly vulnerable to climate change, our efforts at conserving biodiversity can also strengthen their economic and cultural resilience.
What We Do
The GEF has been working in partnership with indigenous peoples since its inception in 1991. We were one of the first international financial institutions to develop an independent policy to engage with civil society, including indigenous peoples. This policy provides the basis for participation of indigenous peoples in all aspects of our work.
In recent years, the GEF has enhanced its partnership with indigenous peoples in various ways. We have adopted Principles and Guidelines for Engagement with Indigenous Peoples. We have developed the GEF Policy on Agency Minimum Standards on Environmental and Social Safeguards (which includes a minimum standard dedicated to indigenous peoples). And we have established the GEF Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group (IPAG), whose members include indigenous peoples and others, and provides useful guidance and partnership to the GEF Secretariat. Read more+
Our work is guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). As the financial mechanism of the Rio Conventions, the GEF also recognizes the importance of protecting Indigenous Peoples, and the land and resources upon which they depend.
At the 11th Conference of the Parties, for example, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) invited the GEF to provide support to Indigenous and local communities to build capacity to participate in legal, policy and decision-making processes, and assist in building their capacity related to genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing.
For its part, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has stipulated that National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) should include indigenous peoples in all stages — from design and implementation to monitoring and evaluation. The GEF supports NAPs through its Adaptation focal area.
Between 1991 and 2014, the GEF actively involved Indigenous Peoples in over 220 medium- and full-size projects and more than 2,300 projects under the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). Biodiversity conservation continues to dominate among projects with Indigenous Peoples. However, in recent years, indigenous peoples have been increasingly involved in other GEF focal area projects, such as Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Forest Management. Outcomes from these projects include improving indigenous peoples-related policies; enhancing co-management of protected areas; sustainable and integrated natural resource management; and strengthening institutions, capacity and skills, and knowledge development. Read more+
Indigenous peoples inhabit nearly one-third of the area of the seven countries in Central America. A GEF project is strengthening the role of the region’s indigenous peoples in biodiversity conservation and management. It builds their capacity to protect and manage their natural and cultural resources, as well as rescuing and reinforcing traditional land-use practices developed over centuries.