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.

5 indigenous community members standing together with a poster protesting a hydroelectric dam.
Image: Indigenous groups from the Amazon basin demonstrate against the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in Brasilia in 2011. The sign reads, “No Belo Monte dam on the Xingu.” | Photo by Ueslei Marcelino

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.

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