Indigenous people comprise just 5% of the world’s population, but they steward some 80% of the world’s biodiversity. That’s not an accident. Though diverse in language, ethnicity and cultures, many indigenous groups have developed ways to live sustainably on their ancestral lands and waters over centuries or even millennia. Their worldviews often put the protection of vital resources – nature’s supermarket – above the profit motive, stemming from long-held cultural practices.
This has put many indigenous communities into direct, if unwanted, conflict with the forces of global capitalism. The results are devastating:
Indigenous communities are being displaced from their lands at alarming rates, and environmental defenders – many of them indigenous – face rising levels of violence.
Our Work to Supporting Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous people’s rights are central to our work. At a time when biodiversity is in free fall and climate change-induced extinctions loom, restoring indigenous land and water rights is our best hope for restoring balance.
We work with indigenous groups in Latin America, Southern Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, amplifying their voices and supporting their movements. We promote the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and indigenous rights over their lands, territories and cultural autonomy. We support and promote consultation protocols as a means through which indigenous communities can uphold their rights. And we strengthen indigenous communities’ capacity to recognize and advocate for their rights, working alongside indigenous-led organizations and movements to elevate and disseminate their narratives.
- Amazon’s Belo Monte dam cuts Xingu River flow 85%; a crime, Indigenous say (Mongabay, 2021)
- Whose Water? A Comparative Analysis of National Laws and Regulations Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Rights to Freshwater (2020)
- Serious Damage Tribal Peoples and Large Dams (Survival International, 2010)
- International Rivers joins Acampamento Terra Livre, “Free Land Camp” event in BrasíliaBy Flavio Montiel – Interim Director International Rivers – Brazil Brasília (DF) – International Rivers is actively participating in the Acampamento Terra Livre (ATL) in Brasília, which has been taking…
- PRESS RELEASE: Klamath Dam Removal Process Enters Home Stretch: Environmental Review Confirms the Benefits of Dam RemovalKaruk Tribe • Yurok Tribe • American Rivers • Trout Unlimited • Institute for Fisheries Resources • California Trout • Sustainable Northwest • Salmon River Restoration Council • Native Fish…
- Landslides: Large Hydropower worsening the disaster for the Lepcha’s of DzonguBy Ayesha DSouza, South Asia Program Coordinator One of the most visible things one sees when travelling from Siliguri in West Bengal up the winding roads to Northern Sikkim are…
- The Kaptai Dam: A Story of Disenfranchisement, Displacement, and DestructionBy Nalori Chakma, South Asia Senior Programme Coordinator, Transboundary Rivers of South Asia The history of dams is riddled with tragic stories of displacement and blatant disregard for Indigenous groups,…