Action Alert: Stop the World Bank from undermining indigenous rights


With the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples coming up on August 9, the Coalition for Human Rights in Development, together with Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and Forest Peoples Programme, have worked up an action alert in order to call on the World Bank to stop undermining indigenous rights in its new proposed safeguards policy.

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has set up an automated alert that generates emails to the Bank President and Board of Directors. So, you can simply fill in your details at the link to add your voice to the alert. Or you can also send personal individual emails with the text below (see the email below for instructions), which are even more meaningful.

Tweet: This #IndigenousPeoplesDay, tell @WorldBank not to undermine #indigenous rights!

Stop the World Bank from undermining indigenous rights

On the eve of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, August 9th, the World Bank is poised to undermine indigenous rights and eliminate key protections for indigenous communities who may be harmed by development projects. We need you to tell the World Bank to safeguard indigenous peoples, not undermine their rights!

Decades ago the World Bank was a leader in establishing an Indigenous Peoples safeguard to ensure that the roads and dams and other projects it finances don’t end up evicting indigenous communities or destroying their environment. Today, the Bank is revamping its entire suite of social and environmental safeguard policies and proposing to rollback key protections for indigenous peoples.

The proposed new policy would:

  • Replace the legally recognized term “indigenous peoples” with the inappropriate and confusing phrase “Indigenous Peoples/ Sub-Saharan African Historically Underserved Traditional Local Communities.”
  • Undermine international standards on free, prior, and informed consent, or FPIC, by defining consent to be merely “an expression of collective support” rather than ensuring that projects respect the results of indigenous peoples’ independent and collective decision-making processes.
  • Restrict the situations in which FPIC is required.
  • Weaken existing requirements that indigenous peoples receive benefits from any commercialization of their lands or resources.
  • Allow the breaking up of indigenous peoples’ collective lands into individual parcels
  • Eliminate the ban on destruction of critical habitats, including those critical for indigenous communities.
  • Erode the requirement that an Indigenous Peoples Plan be developed together with indigenous communities.

Indigenous peoples have long been at the forefront of sustainable development. The World Bank should be protecting their rights, not putting them at risk.

On August 4th the World Bank Board of Directors will vote on the new environmental and social framework. You can use the template below to send a letter to the World Bank president and Board telling them to fix this draft policy so it safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples.

You can email Jim Kim at and you can find the address for your World Bank Executive Director here. Please also consider sending the letter to your Minister of Finance, Foreign Affairs, or Development, or writing a letter to the editor to help spread the word about this important issue!


Dear World Bank President Jim Kim and Board of Directors;

As the World Bank considers a new draft environmental and social framework, we urge you to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples and to respect international norms on indigenous rights.

Unfortunately, the draft policy that was released July 20th rolls back key protections in the existing Indigenous Peoples Policy and undermines international standards, including those found in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We urge you to make the following revisions to the draft indigenous peoples standard:

  • Restore the title and predominant reference of the policy to “Indigenous Peoples”, while additional terminology may be referred to within the text or through use of footnotes.
  • Free, prior and informed consent must not be distorted by defining it as “collective support.” Rather, it should be defined to ensure respect for the results of indigenous peoples’ independent and collective decision-making processes, in keeping with international norms.
  • The restrictions on free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) must be eliminated so that FPIC is required for all projects with impacts on indigenous peoples’ lands and resources, any resettlement of indigenous peoples or restriction of their access to their natural resources, and projects with impacts on cultural heritage.
  • The existing requirement that indigenous peoples should benefit from any commercialization of their natural resources should be strengthened, rather than demoted to a consideration only where the natural resource is “central to their identity and livelihood.”
  • The provision allowing the parceling of indigenous peoples’ collective lands into individual plots must be eliminated.
  • The ban on conversion of critical habitats must be restored, including those habitats of critical importance to local communities.
  • The requirement for a specific, mandatory, and mutually agreed Indigenous Peoples Plan must be restored.

The World Bank was once a leader when it became the first development bank to establish an Indigenous Peoples Policy. Today as we approach the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, we urge you to build on this progress. The Bank’s new policy framework should effectively safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples, not put them at risk.


Click here to download alert.