Indigenous Peoples

The GEF is dedicated to ensuring that its operations fully respect the dignity, human rights, economies, cultures and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and their members.

Indigenous peoples are distinct communities where the land and resources upon which they depend are inextricably linked to their identities and cultures.  Loss or destruction of indigenous peoples’ lands and resources due to natural or developmental changes can bring about economic impoverishment, loss of identity and threatened cultural survival.

Indigenous peoples are not only victims of a deteriorating global environment: they are also a source of effective solutions.  Their knowledge systems are critical to helping us cope with changing environmental patterns and conditions.

The GEF understands the strategic importance of partnering with indigenous peoples to fulfill its mandate. Which is why we continually seek new and creative ways to enhance our partnerships with indigenous peoples, and welcome feedback and dialogue.

Since its inception in 1991, the GEF has a long history of collaborating with indigenous peoples in its work.  The GEF was one of the first international financial institutions to develop an independent policy supporting the effective involvement of civil society, including provisions for indigenous peoples and local communities, entitled the Public Involvement in GEF-financed Projects.  This policy provides the basis for participation of indigenous peoples in all aspects of the GEF’s work, including the design, implementation and evaluation of GEF-financed projects.  The GEF provides a companion document, Guidelines for Implementation of the Public Involvement Policy, outlining steps to implement and achieve the principles outlined in the Public Involvement Policy.

In recent years, the GEF has enhanced its partnership with indigenous peoples through development of the GEF Policy on Agency Minimum Standards on Environmental and Social Safeguards (which includes a Minimum Standard dedicated to indigenous peoples), the Principles and Guidelines for Engagement with Indigenous Peoples, and the establishment of the GEF Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group  (IPAG) among other activities.

The GEF also seeks to continually evaluate our work to learn and evolve.  In 2014, the GEF published an updated analysis of our work with indigenous peoples, which includes data on our projects, detail on our approach to engaging indigenous peoples more broadly, and case studies on existing GEF projects involving indigenous peoples.

The GEF invites indigenous groups and community organizations to help the GEF continue to evolve as an effective mechanism for championing the global commons.