[IFAD-Policy] Engagement with Indigenous Peoples

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This Policy on Engagement with Indigenous Peoples aims to enhance IFAD’s development effectiveness in its engagement with indigenous peoples’ communities in rural areas. It sets out the principles of engagement IFAD will adhere to in its work with indigenous peoples, and the instruments, procedures and resources IFAD will deploy to implement them. The Policy is consistent with international standards, in particular the United Nations Development Group Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues, and with IFAD’s mandate and Strategic Framework 2007-2010. It draws on IFAD’s thirty years of experience in working with indigenous peoples in rural areas of developing countries, and on the overall experience of indigenous peoples and other partners.

There are over 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries worldwide. Most of them live in developing countries and are disproportionately represented among the poor. They account for an estimated 5 per cent of the world’s population, but 15 per cent of those people living in poverty. In many countries, particularly in Latin America and Asia, rural poverty is increasingly concentrated in indigenous and tribal communities.

IFAD’s Strategic Framework identifies indigenous peoples as an important target group because they face economic, social, political and cultural marginalization in the societies in which they live, resulting in extreme poverty and vulnerability for a disproportionate number of them. To reach them requires tailored approaches that respect their values and build upon their strengths. IFAD’s targeted and participatory approach to grass-roots rural development and its experience in empowering poor people and communities give the Fund a comparative advantage in working with indigenous peoples, even in the most remote rural areas.

In its engagement with indigenous peoples, IFAD will be guided by nine fundamental principles: (a) cultural heritage and identity as assets; (b) free, prior and informed consent; (c) community-driven development; (d) land, territories and resources; (e) indigenous peoples’ knowledge; (f) environmental issues and climate change; (g) access to markets; (h) empowerment; and (i) gender equality.

IFAD will implement these principles in the formulation of country strategies, in policy dialogue and throughout the project cycle, and will update its operational guidelines accordingly. In addition, IFAD will strengthen the Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility, will establish new learning and knowledge sharing instruments, and will further develop dialogue with indigenous peoples through the creation of an indigenous peoples’ forum.

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