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The Indigenous World 2024: Respecting and promoting Indigenous Peoples´ rights to lands and self-determination: ensuring a sustainable future for all

IWGIA is proud to have launched The Indigenous World 2024 on 16 April at the 23rd session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. Kathrin Wessendorf, IWGIA Executive Director, started the event by warmly thanking the contributors of the book, including the authors who voluntarily report on the situation of Indigenous Peoples every year, adding how “Indigenous Peoples´ struggle for their right to self-determination continues to inspire our work throughout the years”.

IW2024 front cover only ENG

For this 38th edition, IWGIA, alongside co-organiser the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations, hosted a side event entitled – Respecting and promoting Indigenous Peoples´ rights to lands and self-determination: ensuring a sustainable future for all – as part of the book launch with a panel of distinguished Indigenous and non-indigenous leaders and experts.

>> Watch the online broadcast of the event here.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Erik Laursen, Deputy Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations in New York, praised The Indigenous World as “goldmine of information” that “gives a voice to Indigenous Peoples from all over the world, holds governments accountable and makes us all much wiser on an important theme every year”.

This year´s theme concerns Indigenous Peoples’ rights to lands, territories and resources, which constitute one of the crucial rights in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In a room filled with well over 100 attendees, the panellists exposed the situation of Indigenous Peoples´ land rights at the global, national and local levels, with special interventions on Tanzania, Bolivia, Bangladesh and the Arctic.

We are honoured that so many people are interested in The Indigenous World and attend the launching at our side event every year, as well as being to give the book to those who want to have and use it in their work.

Protecting Indigenous Peoples’ lands from climate actions that violate human rights

Darío José Mejía Montalvo, former Chair and current Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said that when it comes to the climate crisis that “we are in an historic moment, crucial not only for Indigenous Peoples but also in general for humanity itself”.

Constituting just 6% of the world’s population, Indigenous Peoples protect at least 28% of the global land surface. Despite having contributed the least to climate change, they are among the first to face its direct effects. Many live in particularly sensitive ecosystems, such as tropical forests, and are heavily reliant on their natural resources.

Member of the Sámi Parliament Eirik Larsen explained that in the Arctic, climate change has been moving at an unprecedented pace, threatening the livelihood and future of the Saami People, as are the new paradigms of green colonialism and the green transition.

“On the one hand, the Sami are among the people most affected by climate change, on the other hand the Sami are expected to also carry the burden of mitigation and to allow land encroachment in the remaining land,” he said.

Such violations of Indigenous Peoples´ land and human rights are taking place worldwide, not just in the Arctic and in related climate actions, but also in the name of conservation. Too often, fortress conservation – a model that pushes people, often Indigenous, out of their traditional lands – strips Indigenous Peoples from their lands, livelihoods, culture and identity, seriously violating their human rights. The preservation of Indigenous lands for conservation and tourism – frequently done without neither the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples nor their involvement in managing the lands which they have done for centuries – results in widespread evictions and restricted access to sacred Indigenous sites.

“Violations of human rights are taking place in the name of climate change,” decried Edward Porokwa, Executive Director of the Pastoralists Indigenous NGOs Forum (PINGO's Forum). He then explained that in Tanzania, where over 45% of the country is devoted to conservation, designating lands as protected and as World Heritage sites does not automatically mean that Indigenous Peoples are protected. On the contrary, Indigenous Peoples are “not part of the beneficiaries of the national heritage because once there’s something that is called ‘public’ or ‘national interest’, it means land grabbing.”. This too often results in impoverishment, loss of life and livelihood.

Indigenous women and youth at the front line of land defence

While land dispossession and land tenure insecurity is a major problem for all Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous women are affected even more as they are often excluded from decision making processes in general, including those over land matters. Indigenous women are increasingly struggling for the defence of their land, resources, culture, knowledge and identity.

“We, women, are resisting in order to leave something behind us, some wisdom, some knowledge,” said Toribia Lero Quispe, Member of Bolivia Legislative Assembly.

Due to their role as caregivers and managers of resources in their communities, women are disproportionately affected by systemic poverty and face serious forms of intersectional discrimination and violence, including sexual violence. Such violence is seriously increased during armed conflicts, militarization of their territories, and during the implementation of development, investment and extractive projects.

Alongside Indigenous women, Indigenous youth also stand at the frontline of Indigenous Peoples´ struggles for land rights around the world. They are among those most vividly stressing the significance of lands, territories, and natural resources for their cultural, physical and spiritual survival. Land is essential in shaping their worldviews and unique perspectives as Indigenous.

Chandra Tripura, Youth Representative to the Executive Council of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), noted that “land is our life and without our ancestral land and territories, it is very difficult to breathe and even live. […] We worship our land and nature, we protect it as we protect our parents, our elders, our ancestors.”

For Indigenous youth, land is at the core of both their identity and their concern for present and future generations. Indigenous youth compelled to live in city areas or abroad are being denied the opportunity to learn from their community and to continue ancestral practices taught by their elders. To continue the legacy, Indigenous youth have come to the realization that it is crucial for them to be able to live in their own Indigenous territories, which are increasingly being jeopardized by climate change and extractive industries.

Land rights: a continued future of strength and resilience at the heart of Indigenous recognition

iw24 launch room

 

At the core of Indigenous Peoples´ fight for their lands is the need for a broad recognition of their fundamental collective rights over their lands and resources. Land rights are not considered private property rights for Indigenous Peoples since the land does not belong to humans. Elsa Stamatopoulou, IWGIA Board Member and current Director of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, thus asserted that “collective rights are human rights for Indigenous Peoples because they go to the core of their human dignity.”.

Indigenous Peoples have proven to be very strong, resilient and able to defend themselves and, to some extent, their land and resources. They still occupy many of their ancestral territories and maintain, to a large extent, their unique cultures, traditions, knowledge and languages. Indigenous Peoples are no longer struggling in isolation but have organized themselves in a global movement supported by many allies. They now play active roles in major international processes affecting their rights and livelihoods.

In the event´s closing remarks, Casey Box, Director of Global Strategy at The Christensen Fund, said “The Indigenous World is symbolic because it represents the deep relationships and trusts IWGIA has built with its partners and communities around the world”.

It is IWGIA’s hope to continue bringing together qualified input and knowledge with regard to Indigenous Peoples´ struggles over the years, and that Indigenous Peoples themselves, along with their organisations, find it a useful learning tool in their advocacy work.

The 54 regional and country reports and 17 reports on international processes and initiatives covered in this edition underscore these trends related to Indigenous Peoples’ rights to lands, territories and resources.

 

 

About The Indigenous World

The Indigenous World is the unique result of a collaborative effort between Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists and scholars who voluntarily document and report on the situation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. We thank them and celebrate the bonds and sense of community that result from the close cooperation needed to make this one-of-a kind documentation tool available.

For 38 consecutive years IWGIA has published The Indigenous World in collaboration with this community of authors. This yearly overview serves to document and report on the developments Indigenous Peoples have experienced throughout the year.

IWGIA publishes The Indigenous World with the intent that it is used as a documentation tool and an inspiration to promote and defend the rights of Indigenous Peoples, their struggles, worldviews and resilience.

>> Find The Indigenous World 2024 and all other editions here

>> Also available in Spanish as El Mundo Indígena here

 

Top photo: Launch of The Indigenous World 2024 at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, 16 April 2023. From right: Casey Box, Director of Global Strategy, The Christensen Fund; Darío José Mejía Montalvo, Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Eirik Larsen, Member, Sámi Parliament; Ambassador Erik Laursen, Deputy Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations in New York; Kathrin Wessendorf, Executive Director, IWGIA; Toribia Lero Quispe, Member, Bolivia Legislative Assembly; Edward Porokwa, Executive Director, Pastoralists Indigenous NGOs Forum (PINGO's Forum); Elsa Stamatopoulou, Board member, IWGIA; Chandra Tripura, Youth Representative to the Executive Council, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). Photo by David Berger / IWGIA

Tags: Land rights, Global governance, IWGIA, International Processes

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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