The Indigenous World 2024: Indigenous Navigator: Self-Determined Development

The Indigenous Navigator (IN) is an online portal providing access to a set of tools developed for and by Indigenous Peoples. By using the IN, Indigenous organizations and communities, duty bearers, NGOs and journalists can access free tools and resources based on updated community-generated data to advocate for their rights and to systematically monitor the level of recognition and implementation of these rights. By documenting and reporting their own situations, Indigenous Peoples can enhance their access to justice and development and help document the situation of Indigenous Peoples globally.

The IN framework encompasses over 150 structure, process, and outcome indicators to monitor central aspects of Indigenous Peoples' civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), ILO Convention 169 (ILOC169) and other relevant human rights instruments. In addition, the framework enables monitoring of the outcome document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The IN, initiated in 2014, has been developed and carried forward by a consortium consisting of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), Tebtebba Foundation – Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education, Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and International Labour Organization (ILO). This consortium works in partnership with the European Commission.

Continuing critical work on monitoring Indigenous Peoples’ rights

The Indigenous Navigator (IN) is a groundbreaking initiative that continues to make remarkable progress in promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Launched in 2014, it continues to evolve with updates to its framework, tools and surveys.[1] As reported in The Indigenous World 2023,[2] October 2022 saw the start of the third phase of the IN, comprising a geographic and thematic expansion. 2023 saw continued advances, adding consultations and making progress in the drafting of specialized modules on biodiversity, climate, due diligence and gender. Indigenous partner organizations, communities and supporting organizations continue to implement the three pillars[3] of the IN, with data collection ongoing in 29 countries.[4]

Successful outcomes

In 2023, the IN significantly expanded its geographic reach, collaborating with 11 new partner organizations at national level, and supporting monitoring in over 100 additional Indigenous communities. The community survey and IN tools continue to monitor the realization of the rights of over 300,000 Indigenous persons in approximately 320 communities, with published data now available on the global portal from 179 community surveys and 18 UN Member States.[5]

2023 saw the initiative achieve significant milestones and deliver tangible results for Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic, Asia, Africa and Latin America. In 2023, 227 new community surveys were conducted and uploaded to the IN portal. Of these, 30 had been finalized and reviewed as of December 2023. They are now publicly available in the data explorer. National level data for seven new UN Member States — Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, Japan, South Africa, Sweden and Uganda —were completed and published, bringing the total of publicly available national surveys to 18.[6]

Development of the IN portal is ongoing. 2023 saw the drafting of and consultation with Indigenous Peoples from around the globe on new modules and indicators to collect data on climate change, biodiversity and environmental due diligence. These modules are expected to be fully integrated into the web portal by mid-2024, further enhancing the project's monitoring of the realization of Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

Monitoring implementation of the UNDRIP

Violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights are often not reported or addressed. Knowledge gaps persist in understanding the social and economic situation of Indigenous Peoples. Data from the IN and Indigenous communities confirm challenges regarding data availability, with disaggregated census data for Indigenous Peoples often being non-existent or insufficient. This lack of recognition and disaggregation continues to leave Indigenous Peoples statistically invisible. Further, it results in many Indigenous Peoples lacking a comprehensive analysis of their situation and duty bearers lacking awareness and adequate data on Indigenous Peoples’ needs and concerns.

Throughout 2023, the IN continued to focus on highlighting the role of Indigenous-led Community-Based Monitoring and Information Systems (CBMIS) in addressing the polycrisis the world faces and asserting the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Engagement at the global level

In January, the IN participated in the first international conference on Sámi research data governance, held in Trømso, Norway.[7] This marked the official launch of the Global Indigenous Data Alliance-Sápmi network. The event also highlighted the lack of official data, particularly in Sápmi, and the lack of information about Sámi communities. The dialogue reiterated the crucial role of citizen-generated data (CGD) and emphasized how a lack of data impedes decision-making processes that impact issues involving the Sámi people and society. Critically, it was highlighted that, despite being in the “Global North”, there is a lack of critical information such as demographic, economic and health data on Saami in Sápmi.[8]

In February, the IN drafted a submission to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) on “Establishing effective monitoring mechanisms at the national and regional levels for implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.[9]

In April, Indigenous representatives from communities implementing the IN attended the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), and consortium members attended the fourth UN World Data Forum (UNWDF) from 24-28 April in Hangzhou, China. At the UNWDF, the IN participated with a focus on thematic area 4: “Emerging trends and partnerships to develop the data ecosystem”. The event, entitled “Together we can do more: citizen-generated data for inclusive data ecosystems”,[10] provided key engagement on the role of citizen-generated data to address gaps and crises.

In May, following up on its participation in COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that took place in 2022,[11] the consortium made a Submission to the Secretariat of the CBD on behalf of the IN on the “Joint Programme of Work on links between biological and cultural diversity: review and update four indicators on traditional knowledge”.[12] This submission highlighted the key areas of monitoring being carried out by the IN through its framework and tools relevant to these four traditional knowledge indicators. Further, it informed the continued development of an additional module with specific focus on the advances made in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) (see article on the Convention on Biological Diversity).

From 5-8 June, the IN joined RightsCon 2023 and organized two side events, as well as a spotlight video interview and presentation on the IN. The primary event was a workshop: “Community-Generated Data, Indigenous Data Sovereignty and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights”. On 28 June, IN representatives participated in the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) Innovation Day. Here, the IN joined a panel presentation entitled “Innovating for Well-being: Exploring the Latest Indicators for Indigenous Peoples”. The presentation highlighted the IN framework, tools and the critical role of a human rights-based approach to Indigenous data and monitoring.

In July, the IN, together with the Indigenous Peoples Major Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the International Land Coalition (ILC), organized three side events during the High-Level Political Forum (see article on the Sustainable Development Goals). These events highlighted the critical role of Indigenous Peoples and citizen-generated data in achieving the SDGs and ensuring that no-one is left behind. The first event, “Recognizing community leadership in water governance: towards equitable partnerships with Indigenous Peoples in ensuring control over and access to water resource and clean energy”, showcased the role of Indigenous Peoples in managing, preserving and protecting water resources. In a key side event co-organized with ILC: “An Urgent Case for Complementary Data: Indigenous, Land and Environmental Defenders in SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) 16.10.1”, the need for enhanced support for citizen-generated data on both lethal and non-lethal attacks was highlighted. The IN also organized an event entitled, “Implementing Indigenous Peoples’ rights, key to accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals”, which emphasized the crucial role Indigenous Peoples have in ensuring a more just and sustainable future.

In August, the IN organized a workshop together with the UN Statistics Division and key ministries of the Government of Nepal, including the National Statistical Office.[13] The workshop, “Partnerships for better data availability and use on Indigenous Peoples in Nepal”, concluded that there is a significant gap when it comes to disaggregated data on Indigenous Peoples in Nepal, especially concerning their status on a wide range of development indicators within the fields of health, education, employment and landownership, among others. The gap is not only a matter of data not being collected but also a matter of the collected data not being trusted, processed and/or disseminated in a digestible format.[14]

August also saw the publication of “Traditional Occupations of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Labour Statistics” by the International Labour Organization.[15] This technical paper, published by the ILO and the IN consortium, explores how to measure the traditional occupations of Indigenous and tribal peoples in labour statistics. It reviews the concepts, definitions, indicators and data sources for capturing these occupations, which are vital for their cultural, economic, social and environmental well-being. It also proposes some options for a statistical definition and indicators based on existing classification systems and suggests that additional information on the use of Indigenous knowledge at work is needed. The paper is intended to serve as a basis for further consultations and development of definitive and comprehensive guidance and supporting materials on the collection and compilation of statistics on traditional occupations. The IN’s framework and methodology were a key contribution to the paper.

In September, the IN joined the Expert Group Meeting (EGM) of the UN Statistical Division, held in Copenhagen, Denmark.[16] The meeting aimed to develop a conceptual framework for understanding and harnessing citizen contributions and initiatives for data production and use in public policy and SDG monitoring.[17] The IN shared its experience and insights on how citizen-generated data can support the rights and well-being of Indigenous Peoples. Two events were organized during the SDG Summit in New York by Indigenous Navigator partner, the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development (IPMG).[18]

In October, national surveys for Finland, Norway and Sweden were completed and published, allowing for an overview and comparison of the national level of implementation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in these three countries. The Saami Council organized a meeting wherein the IN’s results were presented to discuss the next steps and pathways forward utilizing the data generated by the surveys.[19]

In November, the IN organized an official side event in Geneva for the Working Group Meeting on Article 8j of the CBD. Representatives from Africa, Asia and the Americas took centre stage and shared their experiences of using the IN community monitoring framework and tools.[20] Further, in line with the development of the new module on biodiversity, the IN organized a broad consultation with Indigenous experts involved in the process to identify relevant indicators and questions for Indigenous Peoples within the KMGBF.

In December, representatives of the IN consortium joined COP 28 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Dubai. Indigenous leaders from Cambodia, Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines, Kenya, Tanzania and Peru participated with the support of the IN, which also organized an official side event “Indigenous Navigator: Indigenous knowledge and data to secure Indigenous Peoples’ rights and manage the risks and in restoration of the impacts of climate change” at the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion on 1 December. Further, supported representatives engaged in bilateral dialogues on the value and findings of IN data through the main plenary sessions, side events and Indigenous-led campaigns as well as in the Global and Asia Indigenous Caucus meetings held alongside the COP. Supporting Indigenous voices from the global majority to attend and amplify their voices and their experiences in advocating for the respect and implementation of their rights is one of the key benefits and aims of the IN.



This article has been written by David Nathaniel Berger, Advisor, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA).


This article is part of the 38th edition of The Indigenous World, a yearly overview produced by IWGIA that serves to document and report on the developments Indigenous Peoples have experienced. The photo above is of an Indigenous man harvesting quinoa in Sunimarka, Peru. This photo was taken by Pablo Lasansky, and is the cover of The Indigenous World 2024 where this article is featured. Find The Indigenous World 2024 in full here


Notes and references

[1] Berger, David. “The Indigenous Navigator.” In The Indigenous World 2020, 2021, 2022. Edited by Dwayne Mamo. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA).

[2] Berger, David. “The Indigenous Navigator: Self-Determined Development” In The Indigenous World 2023, edited by Dwayne Mamo, 639-645. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), 2023, The Indigenous World - IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs

[3] The three pillars of the Indigenous Navigator are: 1. Sensitization and data collection, 2. Advocacy at national and international level; 3. Self-determined development to address the findings of the data.

[4] Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, Guyana, Honduras, India, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Suriname, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda

[5] Indigenous Navigator. n.d. “Indigenous Navigator Survey, Data and Index Modules.” Indigenous Navigator.

[6] Including the 11 existing national surveys.

[7] The conference brought together Saami representatives, academics, government officials and activists from Sweden, Norway and Finland. Unfortunately, representatives from Saami in Russia could not attend.

[8] “International Conference on Sámi Research Data Governance 2023 | UiT,” 2023.

[9] Submission to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP): | Indigenous Navigator; OHCHR. 2023. “Call for Inputs: Report on ‘Establishing monitoring mechanisms at the national and regional level for implementation of the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples’”

[10] The event was organized together with United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD-DESA); UN Women; World Bank (WB); International Civil Society Centre (ICSC); PARIS21; and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data< The Programme of the UNWDF in Hangzhou, China is available here:

[11] Op Cit. 1

[12] Submission to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity on behalf of the Indigenous Navigator | Indigenous Navigator:

[13] The workshop was organized by the Danish Institute for Human Rights in collaboration with the Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The participants included representatives from national state institutions and civil society organizations with a stake in monitoring, protecting, and/or implementing the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Nepal, the European Union, Danish Honorary Consulate, and United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).

[14] Reis, Saionara, and Stinne Skriver Jørgensen. Partnerships for Better Data Availability and Use on Indigenous Peoples in Nepal Report. Copenhagen: The Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2023.

[15] Hunter, David, Joji Cariño, Martin Oelz, Gabriela Balvedi, Sandra Mora Caballero, Mansour Omeira, and Kieran Walsh. Traditional Occupations of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Labour Statistics. Geneva: International Labour Organization, 2023.

[16] The Indigenous Navigator. "United Nations Statistics Division Expert Group Meeting on Citizen Generated Data." Indigenous Navigator, 29 September 2023.

[17] United Nations Statistics Division. “Collaborative on Citizen Data.” United Nations Statistics Division. 2021. Accessed: 3 January 2024.

[18] Excerpt from the statement is available on the IISD site (

[19] The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. “Indigenous Navigator in Sápmi - meeting in Arjeplog.” Indigenous Navigator. October 18, 2023. 12 January 2024.

[20] Indigenous Navigator. “Empowering Indigenous Voices: The Indigenous Navigator as a Catalyst for Rights and Development.” Indigenous Navigator, 13 November 2023.

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



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