Guest post by Shireen Said, Global Human Rights Advisor, United Nations Development Programme, Democratic Governance Group
According to the 2009 Report on the State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, indigenous peoples number about 370 million people living in approximately 70 countries around the world, making up five percent of the world's population. It is estimated that they constitute 15 percent of the world’s poor and one third of the 900 million people living in extreme poverty in rural areas. Despite recent progress in the developing of international and national legal and policy frameworks that advocate for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in matters that concern them, there is inconsistency in their implementation and indigenous peoples continue to remain largely excluded from governance and decision-making processes. Barriers to governance structures prevent millions of people from exercising their human rights and attaining higher levels of human development
Sustainable human development is not possible where exclusion prevails and where there is a lack of recognition that all groups, with their different worldviews, can bring value to society at large. Societies that have inclusive political, social and economic institutions with opportunities to invest and innovate are better equipped to sustain development gains for the long term.
All UNDP-supported programmes and projects are designed to advance sustainable human development. This means, in practice, assessing whether they address the opportunities and capabilities of those who are living in poverty and are excluded, as well as promote sustainability. Indigenous peoples and their institutions play a vital role in the implementation and monitoring of development initiatives as proactive and positive actors in the overall socio-economic development of their communities and society. Indigenous peoples’ collective and individual rights, livelihoods and world views must be recognized and taken into account if development processes are meant to be inclusive and sustainable.
2014 is anticipated to be a watershed year for indigenous peoples worldwide with both the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and the UN Climate Summit taking place in New York in September. As the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014) nears its end, the international community is defining the vision for the future development framework. 2014 is therefore a time to build on the good practices, and to further strengthen international cooperation to advance the implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples everywhere.
As we commemorated the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 09 August, we noted the theme Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples which aims to highlight the importance of implementing the rights of indigenous peoples through policies and programmes at both the national and international level, by working together with member states, the United Nations system, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders. Continuous engagement with indigenous peoples in major development processes such as the discourse on the post-2015 development framework and the Sustainable Development Goals is essential to continue to bridge that gap.
The views expressed in this (article/blog) publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations, including UNDP, or the UN Member States.