Our Perspectives

Realizing the rights of indigenous peoples


UNDP Peruphoto: Gaëlle Bruneau / UNDP

Indigenous peoples represent more than 5,000 distinct groups in some 90 countries, making up more than 5 per cent of the world’s population, some 370 million people. Yet, they are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.

The first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples convened in New York, bringing together Member states and representatives of indigenous peoples in a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples, including pursuing the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Following the outcomes from the conference, the UN system has been challenged with a tremendous opportunity to ‘deliver as one’ through a proposed system-wide action plan (SWAP) aimed at realising the rights of indigenous peoples. Only through a coherent approach, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, and articulating a common vision, approach and plan of action, can we best harness our resources to establish clear objectives, timelines, indicators and accountability mechanisms.

Fostering dialogue and promoting inclusive development planning processes between indigenous peoples, governments and the UN system will continue to be a priority for UNDP. We will build on positive examples of how we have supported progressive dialogues and processes, such as in Nicaragua when we helped establish a consultative committee as a forum for reflection and exchange of ideas and knowledge between indigenous and Afro-descendant people.

Innovation and the need for a data revolution is central to UNDP’s development vision, and we continue to look for new ways of inspiring action and harnessing innovation to strengthen accountability by complementing conventional statistical systems and reflecting the reality of indigenous populations’ lives. In Mexico, through such innovations in measurement and data, we were able to provide an alternative picture of how the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index can be adapted to focus on inequalities that affect indigenous peoples.

This opportunity comes at a critical time as we move towards the most crucial phase of the post-2015 process, when governments have the opportunity and responsibility to agree on an agenda that will have a significant impact on reducing poverty, improving people’s lives and protecting our planet. We must support the efforts to integrate the rights of indigenous peoples in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda and make progress towards how the Sustainable Development Goals will be measured for all populations.

Poverty reduction and inequality Development planning and monitoring Patrick Keuleers

UNDP Around the world