Indigenous and Traditional Peoples

Indigenous and traditional peoples have often been unfairly affected by conservation polices and practices, which have failed to fully understand the rights and roles of indigenous peoples in the management, use and conservation of biodiversity. In line with numerous international instruements (e.g., Agenda 21; ILO Convention 169; Article 8(j) of the CBD; and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) several IUCN WCC resolutions emphasise indigenous peoples' rights to lands, territories, and natural resources on which they have traditionally subsisted. These resolutions stress the need to enhance participation of indigenous peoples in all conservation initiatives and policy developments that affect them. Furthermore, they recognise that indigenous peoples possess a unique body of knowledge relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

Recalling the WCC Resolutions 1.49 to 1.57, IUCN aims to:

  • Respect indigenous peoples' knowledge and innovations, and their social, cultural, religious and spiritual values and practices.
  • Recognise the social, economic and cultural rights of indigenous peoples such as their right to lands, territories and natural resources, respecting their social and cultural identity, their customs, traditions and institutions.
  • Ensure full and just participation of indigenous peoples in all conservation activities supported and implemented by IUCN.
  • Support indigenous peoples' right to make their own decisions affecting their lands, territories and resources, by assuring their rights to manage natural resources on which their livelihoods and ways of life depend, and strengthening their traditional institutions.
  • Strengthen the capacity of indigenous peoples to ensure the potection of their knowledge and the fair and equitable sharing of any benefits arising from its use.
  • Support processes for improving the national and international legal and policy framework relevant to the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of the environment and biodiversity conservation. To accomplish this IUCN's Commission on Environmental Law has set up an Indigenous Peoples Specialist Group.


Indigenous peoples and REDD-plus

Challenges and opportunities for the engagement of indigenous peoples and local communities in REDD-plus …   | French

21 Jul 2010 | Downloads - document

IUCN is developing an initiative called "Whakatane Mechanism" for conflict resolution in protected areas involving indigenous and traditional peoples. The current concept of the initiative is under consultation. Comments and questions can be directed to the IUCN Social Policy team.  

Recent documents and statements
Latest: Briefing Document on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change/ REDD
  • Indigenous woman accompanied by her baby, harvesting manioc in the forest; Ecuador.
Report on Indigenous Peoples at the 4th World Conservation Congress
  • Indigenous Peoples at WCC4