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Statement on the role of SDGs

30 June 2015, 5:33 am Written by
Published in Latest News

Statement delivered at the high level segment of the HLPF 2015 on "changing approaches to policy making: the role of the SDGs"

Delivered by Galina Angarova, Tebtebba Foundation
30 June 2015, UN, New York

Dear excellencies, representatives of member states, UN agencies, major groups,

My name is Galina Angarova and I am here as the representative of Tebtebba Foundation, an indigenous rights and education center and a Global Organizing Partner for the Indigenous Peoples Major Group to respond on the issue of integration of SDGs on all levels. I consider this to be an extremely important topic and thank the office of the ECOSOC President as well as UN DESA who have given me the opportunity to provide my comments on this issue.

I would like to speak on several points regarding the SDGs integration:

First and foremost, I would like to send a message to everyone who has been and will be engaged in the formulation and the implementation of the SDGs, that it is necessary to check your ideas and aspirations about sustainable development against the reality. It's important to sometimes go from the abstract and conceptual levels to the levels of real people. Sitting in New York and philosophizing what the world should be without really experiencing the world, without knowing what lack of access to appropriate nutrition and clean water and air means, how it feels to be a second class citizen just because you have a different skin color or because you are a woman or because you are underaged.

Imagine that you are a young indigenous woman living in poverty in some rural area without access to education, basic health service and clean water and proper nutrition. The scariest fact is that this is not a hypothetical situation and people face multiple discrimination based on their gender, age, ethnic origin and what not and such situations can only be resolved in a holistic manner. Every action and every program undertaken in the name of sustainable development needs to be assessed and implemented with full integration of social, environmental and economic dimensions. The UN agencies and national governments need to set necessary benchmarks and requirements for their programs that provide full integration of all three dimensions. The projects have to go through some degree of scrutiny that analyzes if these projects are environmentally safe, socially just and economically feasible.

Secondly, I would like to highlight the role of traditional knowledge in the context of SDGs. The Global Sustainable Development Report presented here as a basis of discussion, although very important, presents a one -dimensional view, from the point of view of science. It was mentioned yesterday during one of panels that science should present an integrated voice, but I think we should go even further – create an integrated voice of science and traditional knowledge. Traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples is millennial experiential knowledge based on the intimate relationship with their environment. It can be found in agricultural practices, land management, sustainable water use, engineering, architecture, medicine, food, seed banking, and etc.

I believe that we need to not only support scientific research but promote effective sharing of information, knowledge, and research and combine local, traditional, and western science perspectives. We need to understand linkages b/n climate and land, water and people, biodiversity and traditional livelihoods. We have to use local knowledge and experience to identify strategies that would move us forward to the implementation of SDGs from local to regional, from regional to national, and from national to global levels.

As an indigenous person, I would also like to make one very important point that is true for all native people around the world. There is a lesson to be learned from indigenous peoples cosmovision. For Indigenous Peoples life is hard to dissect into silos, one has to embrace all aspects of life so that human rights becomes inseparable from food security, or climate change from education for example. These are all pieces that here in the Western world we are used to relate to and work on separately, however, in indigenous communities all issues are closely integrated and failure in one aspect of life leads to the collapse of the entire system.

My third point is a reflection on chapter 2 of the Global Sustainable Development Report:

The Indigenous Peoples Major Group supports some of the findings of them scientific community presented in the report which notes that although “the SDGs offered major improvements on the MDGs, it also pointed out the absence of scenario-based pathways towards the SDGs, and noted that “the level of integration is far lower than justified from a science perspective”.

The report recommends 3 solutions for integration within and across SDGs:

The first recommendation is the formulating an overarching goal can help communicating the SDGs to a wider public – to create “a prosperous, high quality life that is equitably shared and sustainable” which highlights the need for new integrated economic metrics of progress beyond GDP and beyond the Human Development Index and other established aggregate indices.

We agree with this approach. Furthermore, we would like to stress the importance of having a universal mission for our mutual endeavor and have a clear understanding why we are doing this. The Indigenous Peoples Major Groups have stressed on numerous occasions that we need to fully integrate the measure of well-being and align SDGs and targets in a way that support human well-being from all three dimensions of SD. This is why, for example, we have from the very beginning opposed a target under poverty eradication 1.1 by 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day.

Most indigenous peoples rely on non-monetary forms of income such as subsistence resources from hunting, gathering, pastoralism, and small scale agriculture and farming, which make up to 90% of IP livelihoods. Our concern is that the monetary measure of poverty can contribute to impoverishing Indigenous Peoples. For example, if a large agro business comes to indigenous territories, removing IP lands and resources, and IP communities are left with nothing but a choice to work for $3 a day for this business. On paper, they are meeting the SDG goal of eradicating poverty. In reality, they are taking away IPs' livelihoods and pushing people into poverty. Thus, the concept and measure of well-being should be the corner stone of SDG implementation.

The second recommendation of the report proposes a way to overcome the silo-ed approach by providing a composite framework to link interdependent targets that span different goals. While SDGs are presented as 17 separate elements, it is clear from the systems approach that goal areas overlap and it would be highly inefficient to pursue implementation on a goal by goal basis. Therefore, it's extremely important to identify trade offs and synergies among different targets as well as potential clashes and inconsistencies that might occur within targets when one target is achieved at the expense of the other. The report itself gives a great example of a potential clash of targets such as achieving economic growth which can lead to increasing pollution which would undermine some of the targets on health, water, and marine resources. We have to carefully examine each of the targets and their interlinkages and approach every decision on implementation having in mind all three dimensions of SD.

For example, we currently have 1.3 billion people around the world with no access to electricity. How are we going to achieve the goal of providing these people with energy without building large infrastructure, further contributing to climate change, displacing and impoverishing indigenous peoples and local communities, and violating human rights. How do we make this right? The only right way is to provide these people with safe, affordable, distributed and decentralized energy coming from renewable resources with all appropriate safeguards and mechanisms in place that check against stringent environmental, social and economic standards.

The third recommendation of the report proposes the development of scenario-based stories (or “narratives”) of alternative pathways toward the SDGs. The report proposes creation of a UN SDG modellers forum to be held in conjunction with the High-level Political Forum. Such a forum could promote exchange of experiences among all interested SDG modellers and with decision-makers, from national to global scale. The only suggestion I would like to add here is that a forum like this should be open not only modellers from the scientific community and policy makers but also other types of knowledge holders such as indigenous peoples who holders of traditional knowledge.

Finally, in relation to modalities, structure, and integrating SDGs and the three dimensions of sustainable development, at national, regional and international levels as well as the role of the HLPF in fostering policy coherence, I would like to point out that it's critical that the HLPF guarantees a meaningful and effective participation of Major Groups and other stakeholders in the implementation of SDGs on all levels. Additionally, Each UN-region should establish mechanisms for peer review, drawing on existing structures. These reviews should be comprehensive and transparent in their coverage of the Sustainable Development agenda - encompassing all SDGs, and their accompanying targets and means of implementation.

Finally, it would be fundamental to strengthen the mandate and the capacity of the HLPF by establishing an appropriate bureau consisting of Member States and representatives of major groups and other stakeholders for their guidance and political support, and a highly-skilled secretariat with enough resources and a clear structure to achieve all ambitions.

In conclusion, I would like to say that our planet is not only the stock pot of natural resources, it is a territory of human lives, cultures and peoples who managed to create and sustain their day-to-day life, own system of management, values which align with their natural environment. The world does not tolerate temporary solutions, people and approach. Investment into human dimension, development of human potential, education, health alongside with economic investment will guarantee long-term, innovative and sustainable development. ##

On Thursday, Pope Francis will issue a highly anticipated encyclical on man, religion and the environment, a text that is expected to influence the outcome of the Paris climate talks in December.


We know already what side he is on.


During a January visit to typhoon-ravaged villages in the Philippines — my home country — he called on humanity to protect the earth, which he called “a beautiful garden for the human family.” And he captured headlines last year when he called the destruction of South America’s rainforests a “sin.”


To the world’s 370 million indigenous people, many of whom live in overlooked and remote corners of the world, the Pope’s words offer hope — regardless of whether they share his spiritual beliefs. As some of the first victims of climate change by virtue of their dependence on the world’s natural resources, these communities are finding themselves on the front lines of the environmental crisis. They are playing David against governments and developers eager to destroy their pristine forests, fields and streams to build mines, dams and agricultural plantations, all in the name of what the Pope calls a “throw-away” economic system.


Far too many indigenous activists have become martyrs of this movement. A recent Global Witness report estimated that last year alone, 116 environmental activists died while trying to protect their lands from developers, as well as illegal loggers, drug traffickers and others whose criminal activities destroy our forests. Among these mostly indigenous fighters were seven activists from Argentina, the Pope’s homeland.


Ecuador, of course, was host to one of the first and most notorious cases of environmental violence against forest-dwelling indigenous peoples. Between the 1970s and the 1990s, Chevron knowingly dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste and oil into the rivers in the Ecuadorian Amazon, destroying streams, forests and farmlands and inflicting birth defects, cancer and poverty on six indigenous groups living there.


These groups fought back with lawsuits in the U.S. and Ecuador, but after more than two decades of protracted court battles, Chevron has failed to concede it did wrong. This case revealed to the world the agonizing difficulty of providing a level playing field to indigenous peoples, who are most vulnerable to climate change, and most vital in finding a way to slow it down. Yet the case hasn’t succeeded in stopping the violence that continues to endanger indigenous peoples.


The climate talks in Paris will fail if negotiators don't acknowledge the link between indigenous people and the health of the world’s natural resources.


Though often framed by land developers and government officials in some countries as a selfish refusal to embrace modernity and a new way of life, this quest to save indigenous lands and forests is motivated by a profound spiritual belief in the need to protect Mother Earth. Whether the voices come from the indigenous communities of Paraguay’s threated Chaco forests or the First Nations of Canada, I hear the same message on every continent: Forest peoples seek to honor the spirits of our elders and ensure that future generations can preserve their traditions and lifestyle.


Their work benefits us all. Curbing the activities of large corporations that grab and destroy our lands means reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Preventing deforestation helps, too: Forests function like the planet’s lungs, filtering and cleaning the air. Studies have shown that the 513 million hectares of forests that indigenous communities protect store 37.7 billion tons of carbon, making indigenous peoples a potent and valuable weapon in global efforts to end climate change.


In recent speeches on the climate, the Pope has stressed humanity’s duty “to till the earth and to keep it.” For centuries, indigenous peoples who sustainably manage their forests have embodied this harmonious relationship between people and their natural surroundings. Communities across the globe have successfully “kept” their forests while “tilling” them with the utmost care to secure sustainable income sources, from wild honey and wax to fruits and fish. They take just enough to live and thrive — nothing more.


The Pope would certainly agree that indigenous people offer invaluable lessons to a world seeking a sustainable future that eschews what he calls the “plunder” of nature. It’s time for leaders, CEOs and investors who say they care about the environment to finally acknowledge that indigenous people are a major part of the solution to global warming. And governments, on their part, should grant indigenous people strong, unambiguous rights over the land where they live. Researchers have shown that deforestation rates are significantly lower in community-managed forests where rights are strong and reinforced by local and national authorities.


The international community should take notice, too: The upcoming climate talks in Paris will fall short of reaching a comprehensive solution if negotiators do not acknowledge this link between indigenous rights and the health of the world’s natural resources.


As a member of the Kankana-ey Igorot in the Philippines, I, like the Pope, was deeply touched by the destruction left in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. My indigenous brothers and sisters lost their homes, boats and livelihoods, and are recovering from the trauma still. They live simple, sustainable lives, in harmony with the forests, oceans and mountains around them, yet end up bearing the worst effects of climate change. They are not alone. In the Andes of Peru, melting glaciers threaten the lives of the indigenous Quechua, and in the northern stretches of Scandinavia and Finland, Sami herders are seeing reindeer populations drop as the weather warms. And in the Amazon forests of Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia, indigenous peoples are finding their rainforests are drying out.


We hope that having a visionary Pope on our side will help the world to realize that it is best for indigenous people, the environment and the rest of humanity when we are free to focus on preserving our collective “beautiful garden” for future generations — instead of fighting for our lives.




09 June 2015, Berlin — To mark the historic 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, and its 20th anniversary this year, representatives from politics, the private sector, civil society and academia came together today in Berlin. The event with German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Manuela Schwesig, and the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, was held in the Representation of the State North Rhine-Westphalia in Berlin, hosted by the UN Women National Committee for Germany and attended by high officials and other dignitaries.


On the occasion of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 many aspects had been dealt with for the first time in the context of international conferences: Violence against women had never before been described in such detail, as well as the means to overcome it. The need for equal rights to inheritance for girls and boys were also addressed for the first time.


Minister Schwesig made it clear that “no country has achieved gender equality entirely– Germany is no exception. Therefore we have to keep alive the spirit of Beijing and, all together, stand up for women’s rights. Gender equality must become a reality for all people.” She pointed out “how important it is for the future of societies to include women and girls equally in economic and political systems, to strengthen their role in conflict areas and to protect them of violence and abuse. The recently passed bill on equal participation of women and men in leadership positions is an important and historic step forward.”


Executive Director Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka commented: “Across the world, the Beijing Platform for Action has been the focus for renewed attention to progress and constraints, and never more so than this year. The data gathered through the extensive process of reviews by UN Member States has allowed us to articulate the current achievements and the gaps – and to galvanize governments, the private sector and civil society to do more – reaffirming and expanding their gender equality goals, tackling the deep-seated social norms and discriminatory attitudes that continue to hold back substantive equality, and investing in an inclusive future.”


In her welcome address, Karin Nordmeyer, the President of UN Women National Committee Germany, hosting the event, pointed out to those present: “We are here to review the results and achievements of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action during the last 20 years. We are also here to appeal to everybody to intensify their commitment for gender equality globally.” Furthermore, Ms. Nordmeyer stated: “We are living in a world in which women do not participate to their full potential in shaping their societies.”


The Berlin event took place as part as part of the global mobilization to spur engagement and action around gender equality as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action turns 20. The Platform for Action is considered to be one of the most comprehensive agreements on the empowerment of women and a blueprint for achieving gender equality. All speakers of the evening underlined this framework, and demanded the need for a concerted push which will not allow any backsliding. Women and girls, boys and men must work together to ensure that gender equality will become an unquestioned matter of fact for future generations by the year 2030.

For more information


UN Women National Committee Germany, Silvia Fullenkamp, Tel.: (+49) 228/454934-11, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,



1 June, 2015- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has adopted and made effective (as of 1 January 2015), new Social and Environmental Standards (SES or Standards). They are accompanied by a revised Social and Environmental Screening Procedure (SESP) and two new compliance and accountability mechanisms: the Stakeholder Response Mechanism and the Social and Environmental Compliance Mechanisms (and "Unit" known as SECU).


The SES are anchored by three principles and seven standards. The three principles comprise: Human Rights, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, and Environmental Sustainability. They apply to all programmes and projects and the seven standards include: (1) Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Natural Resource Management; (2) Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation; (3) Community Health, Safety and Working Conditions; (4) Cultural Heritage; (5) Displacement and Resettlement; (6) Indigenous Peoples; and (7) Pollution Prevention and Resource Efficiency.


In many ways, UNDP deserves applause. Its new documents strived to ensure not only that its standards did not fall below any other safeguards adopted already by international financial institutions, but also to properly expand the concepts of applicable social and environmental safeguards where advances in international law and practice have so warranted.


As an agency of the United Nations, the UNDP has centred the SES in respect of the very human rights and environmental standards adopted within the UN system and embraced by its member states. The SES aim to adhere to the (UNDG) Statement of Common Understanding of the Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Cooperation and Programming. It is the first safeguard of its kind that expressly affirms that the hosting institution -- here the UNDP -- will refrain from providing support for activities that may contribute to violations of a state’s human rights obligations and the core international human rights treaties.


The SES specifically state that "UNDP will not support activities that do not comply with national law and obligations under international law, whichever is the higher standard." The latter is particularly important to indigenous peoples given that all too often the national legal framework does not support indigenous rights, certainly not in a manner consistent with the rights and duties of states under international law. Moreover, Standard 6 related to Indigenous Peoples (the "IP Standard"), expands this required compliance to include all state duties and obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Also, while a key objective of the SES is to ensure UNDP’s projects do not adversely affect indigenous peoples, the SES go beyond the traditional and all too familiar "do no harm" approach. Together with the SESP, the SES also aim to support governments in efforts to fulfil their obligations under international law. The objective therefore is not just to avoid human rights violations, but to enhance the respect for, and the enjoyment of human rights.


While each of the seven standards are relevant to indigenous peoples, it should be noted that the IP Standard recognises indigenous peoples' rights to lands, resources and territories (including respect and support for demarcation and titling). It also ensures against involuntary resettlement, and recognises the requirement that culturally appropriate consultation must be carried out with the objective of achieving agreement and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). The IP Standard specifically prohibits the undertaking of any project activities that may adversely affect the existence, value, use or enjoyment of indigenous lands, resources or territories unless agreement has been achieved through FPIC. The IP Standard further requires the development of an Indigenous Peoples Plan and demands respect and support for state recognition of the legal personality of indigenous peoples consistent with their own norms, values and traditions. The Standard respects and supports indigenous peoples' cultural heritage, intellectual, religious and spiritual property, and recognises the requirement of participatory monitoring and transparency.


As with all safeguards, their true test will be in the implementation. While it is believed that those responsible for drafting and advancing the SES at the UNDP headquarters level have the proper intentions to see the SES and SESP implemented in full, much will depend on the capacity and political will of both UNDP staff at the country level and the main project implementing partners: the states themselves. This means that indigenous peoples must familiarise themselves with the content of the Standards and SESP, ensure their application, and insist as required on the full and effective participation of affected indigenous peoples.



(24 May 2015, DHAKA, Bangladesh) The brutal gang-rape of a woman from a Bangladeshi indigenous group last week has put a spotlight on how the country protects women and minority groups.


More than 500 activists gathered in the capital Dhaka on Sunday to demand the government support the victim, arrest the attackers and ensure security for Bangladeshi women, including those from vulnerable indigenous groups.


There have not yet been any arrests after the 21-year old woman -- from the Garo ethnicity present in northeastern Bangladesh and India -- was forced into a van by five men and subjected to a more than hour-long attack on Thursday night, when she was returning home from work.


"It is really very painful. A girl comes to the capital Dhaka for work but is kidnapped and gang-raped. Three days have gone but police have failed to arrest them," said Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary of the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum. "I think the state should take responsibility of the security of its citizens, especially women."


"Sometimes people say that indigenous girls do not go to police and do not file any complaints. I think the state and police should come forward spontaneously, without harassing the victim, and expedite the arrest of the criminals," said Drong.


Human rights activists complained there is a culture of impunity around rape which, compounded by a male-dominated society, threatens women's safety.


Sultana Kamal, the head of legal aid group Ain-o-Shalish Kendra said the rape was a calculated attack.


"We demand the security of all women, including indigenous women. I would like to focus on indigenous women especially because they are still in a weak position in their constitutional existence in this independent country," said Kamal. "The perpetrators also think that as they [indigenous women] are a minority, they might not be able to protest. So that’s why we are here to express our solidarity with them and to inform the state that, if the state and its law enforcement agency fail to ensure women's security, they have to give an explanation to us."


The Garo Students Union, which represents students from the minority group, demanded immediate action from the government at the rally.


Garo activist Tuki Chambugong said: "I think the meaning of raping a girl is raping a society, raping a state. You will notice that in our Garo community, women's rights and their freedom is acknowledged, accepted."


"I think, the rape of this Garo girl is actually a rape of the freedom of women in our society," she said.


The victims, who filed a case with the police on Friday, said she was not able to identify any of her assailants, though her sister claimed that one of them had a week earlier visited the victim in the shop where she worked.



UNITED NATIONS, May 11 2015 (IPS) - U.N. member states are meeting throughout the year to finalize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will set the global development agenda for the next 15 years. The goals are supposed to be universal and aspire to “leave no one behind.”


But Indigenous Peoples, who are among the poorest and most marginalised people on earth, are all but invisible in the latest draft of the SDGs. As an indigenous woman and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, I am deeply concerned that almost all references to Indigenous Peoples have been deleted, as we have learned from experience that unless we are explicitly included, we are likely to be excluded.


Indigenous Peoples face systemic discrimination and exclusion in almost every country they live in. Without specific targets and indicators to measure and report on the realisation of their rights, this inequality is likely to continue in the 15-year implementation of the SDGs.


The Millennium Development Goals, which were also supposed to be universal, failed to address Indigenous Peoples’ poverty: Indigenous Peoples still make up just five percent of the global population but account for 15 percent of the world’s poorest people. If the SDGs aim to do any better, and achieve their aspiration to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere,” they must also address the unique development needs and challenges of Indigenous Peoples.


Chief among these is that many Indigenous Peoples do not have legal title to the lands they have lived on for generations. This insecurity has resulted in encroachment by governments and corporations as well as forced evictions of countless communities from their ancestral lands.


Because Indigenous Peoples’ lives, livelihoods, cultures, and identities are intrinsically tied to their territory, this loss often deprives them of their income and self-sufficiency, and threatens their very identity and survival.


Securing legal recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ land rights has other benefits too: it decreases poverty, supports food security, and encourages long-term economic and environmental benefits. But despite progress in some regions, there has been a sharp slowdown in the overall global recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ and communities’ land rights since 2008.


The current SDG draft recognises the land rights of individuals (men and women) but does not take into account the estimated 1.5 billion Indigenous Peoples and forest-dwelling and forest-dependent local people who govern 6.8 billion hectares of land through community tenure arrangements.


Currently governments only recognise about 513 million hectares of these lands. The SDGs should therefore include an indicator to measure recognition of collective land rights, and reinstate a deleted provision requiring that governments obtain the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples before handing over their lands.


This is particularly critical given that “development” for many Indigenous Peoples has been more of a threat than a promise. An analysis of around 73,000 mining, agricultural, and lodging concessions in eight countries revealed that more than 93 percent of these developments involved lands inhabited by Indigenous Peoples and local communities.


Development projects in countries that lack strong safeguards often rob them of their lands and livelihoods—but rarely do they deliver on the promise of shared economic development.


In Indonesia, for example, palm oil corporations have engulfed over 59 percent of community forests in West Kalimantan, yet the industry contributes less than two percent to Indonesia’s GDP and has not increased rural employment. Inequality has risen, and Indigenous Peoples’ land rights have been transferred to corporations on a large scale.


The consequences of insecure land tenure extend beyond indigenous communities: Indonesia is now the world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, with almost 80 percent of emissions stemming from deforestation, land use change, and the draining and burning of peatland.


On the other hand, deforestation rates are dramatically lower in areas where Indigenous Peoples have legal recognition of their land rights. Despite suffering some of its worst impacts, Indigenous Peoples can actually offer some of the most promising solutions to climate change.


Community forest rights in Nepal, for example, improved the health of the forest to the point where it absorbed 180 million tons of carbon. It is no coincidence that traditional indigenous territories overlap to a large degree with biodiversity hotspots.


Indigenous Peoples’ natural resource management has sustained some of the world’s most intact ecosystems and holds important lessons for a planet that must change if it is to endure. They bring alternative thinking and perspectives to a development paradigm that has repeatedly put sustainability and human rights on the back burner and favored short-term profits.


Because many Indigenous Peoples live in rural areas and are politically and physically distant from the centers of power, it is all too easy for us to become invisible.


We fought for the global recognition of our rights in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We had to fight to be called “Indigenous Peoples,” a term that recognises us as peoples with distinct identities and cultures who have the right to self-determination.


As they stand now, the SDGs are a step backwards from these achievements. Indigenous Peoples have been all but erased from the development agenda. Include us, so that we can protect our traditions and territories for our children and protect the planet’s biodiversity for all the world’s children. Don’t leave us behind.


Edited by Kitty Stapp



Equator Prize 2015 - Call for Nominations

28 April 2015, 2:32 am Written by
Published in Latest News


Equator Prize 2015



The Equator Initiative is pleased to announce a global call for nominations for the Equator Prize 2015 as part of an extensive partnership effort underway to strengthen and highlight the role of indigenous peoples and local communities at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP21).

The Equator Prize 2015 will be awarded to 20 outstanding local and indigenous initiatives that are advancing innovative solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.


Learning from the Millennium Development Goals and leaving no one behind


The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Post-2015 Development Agenda aspire to “leave no one behind.” The Indigenous Peoples Major Group (IPMG), however, notes with concern that many references to “indigenous peoples” were deleted in the final Outcome Document of the Open-ended Working Group on the SDGs (OWG) to be considered for adoption by the UN General Assembly. The near “invisibility” of indigenous peoples in the current draft of the SDGs poses a serious risk of repeating their negative experiences with national development processes and efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as further marginalization in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. With the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, the new SDGs could present a unique opportunity to not only the remedy shortcomings of the MDG process, but also historic injustices resulting from racism, discrimination, and inequalities long suffered by indigenous peoples around the world.


The failure to recognize indigenous peoples as distinct groups under the MDGs resulted in the absence of targeted measures to address their specific situations related to poverty and severely limited the realization of favourable outcomes. Furthermore, culturally blind implementation of the MDGs resulted in inappropriate development programmes for indigenous peoples including discriminatory actions related to education, health and basic services. If the world community truly aspires to leave no one behind, it is critical that these gaps be recognized and addressed moving forward. UN Member states and the UN system must fulfill their previous commitments to Indigenous Peoples whose needs must be centrally situated within the SDGs and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.


Respecting commitments from Rio+20 and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples


The UN General Assembly has adopted important guiding principles and commitments in support of indigenous peoples and sustainable development arising from the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and the 2014 High-Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP).[1] The Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want”, at paragraph 49, recognizes:


the importance of the participation of indigenous peoples in the achievement of sustainable development”and “the importance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of global, regional, national and sub-national implementation of sustainable development strategies.”


The WCIP adopted an action oriented outcome document aimed at implementing the principles set forth in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, affirming that:


indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development.” (Para. 33)


The WCIP also committed to “giving due consideration to all the rights of indigenous peoples in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.” (Para.37)


Consistent with the rights of indigenous peoples and their valuable contributions towards achieving sustainable development for all, these outcomes represent commitments that must be strongly reflected in the SDGs and the final Post-2015 Development Agenda.




The Indigenous Peoples Major Group (IPMG) highlights the following key issues to beaddressed in the negotiations of the SDGs and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.


Universality Underpinned by Diversity


An outstanding challenge for the Post-2015 Development Agenda is upholding universality whilst recognizing and addressing the needs of specific peoples and persons facing structural disadvantages due to gender, age, race, ethnicity, nationality migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics. Respect for human rights and social inclusion requires the promotion of equality and non-discrimination by acknowledging social differences and cultural diversity and addressing these appropriately in different national contexts.


Generalized national averages on extreme poverty and the use of one-size fits all terms such as “vulnerable groups” cannot continue to institutionalize the invisibility of indigenous peoples within development frameworks. These trends fail to recognize the distinct cultural identities and political status of indigenous peoples who are rights-holders and recognized agents of change. The prevailing use of the term “vulnerable groups” to encompass the diverse situations of indigenous peoples within the SDGs and related processes undermines their legal standing as subjects of international law, as well as their own self-identification as indigenous peoples, a rights which is upheld by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).


Universal goals require specific targets, indicators, and appropriate special measures to address indigenous peoples’ distinct needs in the development process so as to overcome historic structural inequalities and ongoing risks of human rights violations. This is true for indigenous peoples living in both developed and developing countries. Effective implementation of universal goals means being mindful of national contexts whilst respecting cultural diversity. Inasmuch as biological diversity underpins the resilience of ecosystems, cultural diversity of social systems and institutions underpins social resilience for sustainable development. This holds true for legal systems and legal pluralism including respect and recognition of customary law; diverse health traditions including traditional healing and medicines; diverse educationalinstitutions including transmission of cultural traditions; as well as diverse local economies and traditional livelihoods as countervailing alternatives to economic globalization.


Different peoples and societies have diverse cultural and spiritual views of sustainability, including conceptualizations of poverty, well-being and sustainable development, requiring culturally relevant indicators. Non-economic and non-monetary measures of well-being are important in promoting a holistic understanding of sustainable development. The financial measure of $1.25/day for extreme poverty is inappropriate for indigenous peoples, for whom security of rights to lands, territories and resources is essential for poverty eradication.


Monitoring their situation and making them visible in national statistics requires the inclusion of cultural identifiers in national census and population data, and disaggregated data to capture the situation of indigenous peoples. Indicators relevant for indigenous peoples need to be identified with their full and meaningful participation. Community-based monitoring and information systems can complement national monitoring of progress in the implementation of the SDGs as well as supporting local sustainable development plans and the implementation of special measures.


Upholding Indigenous Peoples Rights and Visions of Sustainable Development


Historical and continuing colonization and institutionalized racism have made indigenous peoples vulnerable in mainstream development processes in both developed and developing countries. Most indicators of well-being demonstrate that indigenous peoples are disadvantaged compared to other populations in all countries where they live. The Post-2015 Development Agenda must heed the advice of UN mandate holders and experts on indigenous peoples issues to address their distinct circumstances by upholding their rights to determine their own visions of sustainable development.


Indigenous peoples consider culture a foundational and a transformative dimension of sustainable development – understanding that diverse cultural values and spiritual traditions shape relations with nature. Other key messages and demands of indigenous peoples include:


Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including the right to free, prior, informed consent (FPIC);

Recognition of diverse local economies, customary resource management and sustainable use practices, and traditional occupations as central to economic development and decent work;

Securing the lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples against extractive industries, predatory investments, and development aggression; and

The recognition of indigenous and traditional knowledge on an equal footing with science and other knowledge systems for 21st century solutions to contemporary crises

Number of governments adopting FPIC policies or laws or regulations

Compliance with international human rights standards on consultations and FPIC with indigenous peoples on policies, programmes and projects which may affect them

Number of conflicts, displacement and relocation resulting from non-compliance with international human rights standards on consultation and FPIC

Number of constructive agreements resulting from FPIC


The IPMG emphasizes that environmental and social safeguards must be in place to address risks imposed on Indigenous Peoples by development, environment and climate change programmes and projects consistent with established obligations in the UNDRIP,


ILO Convention No. 169, and commitments made under the Convention on BiologicalDiversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).Safeguards must establish policies and procedures to prevent further risks of social,cultural, environmental damage, protect human rights and provide access to justice and redress mechanisms.


Valuing Contributions of Indigenous Peoples to Sustainable Development


Whilst acknowledging that indigenous peoples are among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups, they are also active participants and partners who are making important contributions to sustainable development. Indigenous peoples are identified as custodians of many of the world's most biologically diverse areas and verifiably hold a wealth of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices on ecosystem management and technologies, traditional health systems and medicinal plants; agricultural production and food systems, local crops and seeds. While these realities are increasingly recognized among mainstream sectors, indigenous peoples seldom share in the benefits of the commercialization of their knowledge. Indigenous peoples, including indigenous women, have a proven track record of responsible management of natural resources in forests, deserts, tundra, and small islands. Their contributions to sustainable development should not only be recognized and respected, but whenever possible, celebrated as models of good practices that have a huge potential to benefit all mankind.


United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Synthesis Report


The recent Synthesis Report by United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also affirms that UN SDGs and Post-2015 Development Agenda should “leave no one behind.” The IPMG welcomes the Synthesis Report and appreciates the recognition that “people are at the center of sustainable development. Further, the IPMG commends the report’s call for genuine commitment “to work together to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection and thereby to benefit all, as well as its overall commitment toward implementation through a human rights based approach to development. The Synthesis Report also affirms that the “meaningful participation” of essential actors, new partnerships, and key constituencies are critical for a true, transformative agenda (para. 7, 23, 61).


The IPMG welcomes the report’s various references to indigenous peoples, however; a specific reference to Major Groups would have also been welcomed as the “Major Groups and other stakeholders” participatory framework has proven to be successful during the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and the OWG. Additionally, the Synthesis Report defines “six essential elements” to help “frame and reinforce the universal, integrated and transformative nature of a sustainable development agenda and ensure that the ambition expressed by Member States in the outcome document of the Open Working Group (OWG) translates, communicates, and is delivered at the country level (para. 66). In this regard, the Synthesis Reports’ explanatory narrative is appreciated, however; based on the invisibility of indigenous peoples in the MDGs, the IPMG remains concerned that goals and targets will be addressed in silos, rather than viewed holistically.


The development of indicators remains a critical entry point for the full and meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The IPMG welcomes the Secretary General’s action-oriented approach that suggests ”Member States may decide to task the United Nations System, in consultation with other relevant experts and through a multi-stakeholder dialogue, to develop a draft set of indicators” (para 139). The IPMG is concerned, however, with the time-frame for the development these indicators, the lack of clarity over what UN agencies and experts will be involved, and how indigenous peoples can input directly into indicator development. The IPMG has developed and recommends specific indicators, for example, that can significantly contribute to this process.




Based on the analysis of the OWG outcome document and its seventeen proposed sustainable development goals, the Indigenous Peoples Major Group (IPMG) has identified six key themes, as well as various targets and indicators for inclusion in the SDGs/Post-2015 Development Agenda. The key themes are clustered as follows:


1.) Disaggregation of data; 2.) Lands, territories and resources (LTR); 3.) Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC); 4.) Special Measures; 5.) Access to justice and redress mechanisms; 6.) Participation and representation in decision-making and relevant bodies.


Disaggregation of data


One of the main concerns of indigenous peoples with regards to implementation and monitoring of MDGs was the lack of disaggregated data specifically addressing indigenous peoples. As a result, indigenous peoples were invisible and absent in national reports and data collections. So as not to repeat the mistakes of the MDGs it is of vital importance to: 1) disaggregate data for every SDG by including indigenous identifiers in national data censuses,household surveys and other data gathering efforts; 2) to cross-reference WCIP commitments on data disaggregation with the SDGs document; 3) include existing indicators based on gender, age and ethnicity, etc.; 4) disaggregation to focus on education, health, basic social services, agriculture and labor statistics, etc., including traditional occupations and etc.


With this in mind, the IPMG recommends: the recognition and inclusion of community-based monitoring data collection and reports by the UN and national governments and to include indigenous peoples identifiers in administrative registers.


Lands, territories and resources


Lands, territories and resources (LTR) is another key theme for indigenous peoples world-wide as their basic survival depends on access to LTR. Unfortunately, indigenous peoples’ right to own, manage or control their LTR is not adequately reflected in the newly developed SDGs. Forests, rangelands, bodies of water, and related natural resources worldwide are often held and managed by indigenous peoples whose rights are recognized by International Human Rights Law and Instruments, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ILO Convention No. 169. The SDGs and the Post-2015 Development Agenda should strengthen rather weaken indigenous peoples’ land tenure systems, which will be vital in achieving poverty eradication (Goal 1), sustainable agriculture (Goal 2), and the protection and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity (Goal 15)[2]


The IPMG recommends the following:


-Include the language in Target 1.4 that provides legal recognition of collective land rights ofindigenous peoples and local communities under goal 1 on poverty eradication.


1.4.: 1) Proportion (area) of collective lands under the tenure of indigenous peoples and local communities that is legally recognized, secure, documented and protected and guarantees equitable access and use to women and men; 2) Number of laws, executive orders, policies and territorial maps which recognize indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, territories and resources in accordance with the international law [can also be applied to 12.2]; 3) Land use change on indigenous peoples’ territories (CBD indicator), 4) % of land owned and controlled by indigenous peoples,5) Number of indigenous peoples living on those lands.


1.5: 1) Percentage change in GDP derived from the use of common land and natural resources by women and men who are members of indigenous peoples and local communities.; 2) Percentage and distribution of benefits derived from the use of common land, natural resources, and ecosystem services retained by the women and men who are members of indigenous peoples with tenure over those resources.


14.2: 1) Number of marine and coastal ecosystems sustainably managed by indigenous peoples; 2) Number of government policies recognizing indigenous peoples’ rights to marine and coastal ecosystems developed in consultation with indigenous peoples; 3) Number of government policies recognizing indigenous peoples’ livelihoods in marine and coastal ecosystems developed in consultation with indigenous peoples.


15.1: Percentage of lands, territories and resources sustainably used and managed by indigenous peoples.


Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)


Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is critical for the sustainable development for indigenous peoples and is a prerequisite for any development projects occurring on indigenous lands. During the OWG process, specifically during the July session, the IPMG regretted to observe FPIC moving from the proposed Goal on biodiversity to the Goal on “means of implementation,” and then disappear from the document all together. It is important to note that FPIC a commitment recognized by governments in the outcome document of the WCIP in paragraphs 3 and 20.


With this in mind, the IPMG recommends inclusion of a specific Target under Goal 17 on means of implementation “to consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources” [WCIP commitment, paragraph 20]. The IPMG also proposes the following indicators relevant to the recommended inclusion of a specific Target under Goal 17:


The IPMG also calls for inclusion of FPIC indicators under goals 6, 9, 11, and 16.


6.5 and/or 6b: Extent of indigenous peoples participation based on FPIC in all phases of development of water-related resources at all levels


9.1 and/or 9.a: Consultations with indigenous peoples and participation in decision-making in regards to infrastructure development based on FPIC


11.1: Number of incidences of displacement and relocation of indigenous peoples without FPIC


16.7: Number of policies that recognize the duty to consult and cooperate in good faith with indigenous peoples in order to obtain their FPIC before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. [WCIP commitment, paragraph 3]


Special Measures


To achieve the universality of the goals requires appropriate special measures in order to address indigenous peoples’ distinct needs and to overcome historic disadvantages and continuing human rights violations. Examples of “special measures” include access to culturally appropriate, bi-lingual education leading to ability to read and speak in mother tongue, targeted interventions to overcome poverty, build capacity of indigenous women, combat child labor, protect traditional livelihoods and health practices. The establishment of safeguard mechanisms also constitutesspecial measures, which are necessary to ensure substantial equality for indigenous peoples.


The IPMG recommends the following indicators, to help ensure that the particular needs of indigenous peoples are addressed via Special Measures:


Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere:


1.1.: 1) Existence of special measures to overcome poverty of vulnerable groups including women, children, indigenous peoples, ... within national poverty reduction measures


1.2: 1) Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) disaggregated by sex with break down by age, children, unemployed, persons with disabilities, pregnant women/new-borns, indigenous peoples and other disadvantaged groups.; 2) Proportion of population living below national poverty line, disaggregated by sex with break down by children, unemployed, old age, persons with disabilities, pregnant women/newborns, members of indigenous peoples, and other disadvantaged groups.


1.3.: 1) Percentage of population covered by social protection floors/systems, disaggregated by sex with breakdown by age, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and local communities.


1.4.: 1) Percentage of women and men with secure rights to land, measured by (i) percentage with documented rights to land, and (ii) percentage who do not fear arbitrary dispossession of land (proposed SDG indicator); 2) Title deeds or other binding agreements in recognition of indigenous peoples' collective rights to lands or territories; 3) Status and trends in traditional occupations (CBD indicator)


1. b 1) Number of national action plans, strategies or other measures to achieve the ends of the UNDRIP developed in consultation with Indigenous Peoples [WCIP commitment, paragraph 8]


1.5:. Percentage of people living in or within x distance to uncontrolled dumpsites and other “hot spots” emitting and releasing hazardous chemicals by sex with a breakdown by children, pregnant women/newborns, unemployed, persons with disabilities, members of indigenous peoples.


Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture:


2.1: Consumption of diverse locally-produced food (Biodiversity International, resilience indicator)


2.3: 1) Status and trends in traditional occupations (CBD indicator); 2) percentage of women and men with secure rights to land (proposed SDG indicator); 3) Area of land legally recognizedunder the tenure of indigenous peoples and local communities (ILC, OXFAM, etc); 4) Recognition of customary tenure regimes within national legal frameworks in line with international human rights standards and the Committee on World Food Security's Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests.


Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages:!
3.8.: Existence of regulatory provisions allowing access of indigenous peoples and local communities to traditional health practices, medicine and knowledge. [WCIP commitment, paragraph 11 and 12]


Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all:


4.1: 1) Special measures to ensure equal access to high quality culturally relevant and accessible education for indigenous peoples within the national education strategies [WCIP commitment, paragraph 11]; 2) Proportion of young adults (18-24) who are literate in their indigenous language; 3) Special measures to train bilingual indigenous teachers; 4) Recognition of the right to learn in mother tongue; 5) Diversification of curriculum in accordance with cultural and linguistics characteristics within the national education framework


4.5: 1) Availability of school materials in indigenous languages; 2) Accessible school infrastructure for vulnerable groups including nomadic groups and indigenous peoples


Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls:


5.5: 1) Number of special measures or programs to promote capacity building and strengthen leadership of indigenous women [WCIP commitment, paragraph 17]; 2) Percentage of seats held by indigenous women in national parliament and/or subnational elected office according to their share in the population


Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all:


6.3: presence of contaminants from extractive industries and other sources in water on indigenous peoples’ lands and territories


6.b: policies in places to support and strengthen the participation of indigenous peoples for improving water and sanitation management


Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all:


7.1: Appropriate environmental and social safeguards, in accordance with international standards on indigenous peoples’ rights and in all phases and levels of energy development projects


7.a: Number of new alternative energy initiatives carried out in collaboration with indigenous peoples.


Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all:


8.5: Existence of legal or regulatory frameworks to protect local economies and traditional livelihoods/occupations including subsistence livelihoods]


8.9: # of jobs and livelihoods created for indigenous peoples through development of sustainable tourism


8.10: Ratio/or percentage of indigenous peoples and other disadvantaged groups, disaggregated by sex, accessing appropriate financial services


Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation:


9.1: Appropriate environmental and social safeguards, in accordance with international standards on indigenous peoples’ rights, in all phases and levels of infrastructure development projects


10.2 by 2030 empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status; 2) Measure the progressive reduction of inequality gaps over time, disaggregated by age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status for selected social, economic, political and environmental SDG targets; 3) Proportion of seats in national and local government held by relevant social groups and indigenous peoples, disaggregated by sex and according to their share in the population (modified MDG indicator, proposed SDG indicator)


10.3: Percentage of indigenous peoples and other disadvantaged groups reporting perceived existence of discrimination based on all grounds of discrimination prohibited by international human rights law


Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable:


11.1: 1) number of appropriate human settlement provided to indigenous peoples; 3) proportion or level of participation of indigenous peoples in planning and management


11.3: number of plans and level of indigenous peoples participation


11.4.: Provision of access for indigenous peoples to their religious and cultural sites and access to and repatriation of their ceremonial objects and human remains [WCIP commitment, paragraph 27]


Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns:


12.4 – 1) number of policies prohibiting waste disposal in indigenous peoples’ territories;


12.b – 1) % jobs created to promote local culture and products


Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts:


13.1: 1) use of strategies based on traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to impacts of climate change and natural disasters [WCIP commitment, paragraph 36];


13.3: 1) number of education programs and awareness raising campaigns specifically targeting indigenous peoples; 2) number of capacity building programs on climate change targeting indigenous peoples;


13.b: 1) representation of indigenous peoples in climate change related offices and high level meetings.


Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels:


16.6: 1) Existence of special measures to strengthen capacity of indigenous peoples’ representative institutions; 2) existence and capacity of NHRI to reach out to vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples; 3) institutional mechanisms and procedures for consultation with indigenous peoples, in accordance with international standards.


Access to justice and redress mechanisms


The IPMG recommends a target on access to justice and redress mechanisms that is specific to indigenous peoples. With instances of harassment and displacement of indigenous peoples, militarization of indigenous peoples’ lands and territories, and criminalization of indigenous movements and activists around the world it is especially important to have a safeguard mechanism that would ensure access to justice and redress for indigenous peoples. Indigenous territories and lands are increasingly becoming the targets of invasion for the purposes of resource extraction and militarization, leading to violence and armed conflicts, displacement, human rights violations and, in some cases, genocide. Discrimination and violence against indigenous women and girls, in particular, are among the worst and most pervasive forms of human rights violations perpetrated against indigenous peoples as a result of armed conflicts. Ending militarization and initiating processes to demilitarize the lands, territories, waters and oceans of indigenous peoples and to end, not least, the violence against indigenous women and girls, must form part of the SDG framework. With this in mind, the IPMG recommends the following target and indicators:


Target within Goal 16: Recognition of legal plurality and customary laws of indigenous peoples and access of indigenous peoples to redress mechanisms. Indicators: 1) Capacity building for legal practitioners on customary laws; 2) Number of governments recognizing customary laws


16.3: Existence of procedures to delineate competencies and resolve conflicts between customary and statutory law [WCIP commitment, paragraph 16, also UNDRIP, article 40]


16.4: Availability of training programs for customary law authorities on international human rights standards


16.5: Existence of the right to access to translation in legal proceedings recognized in national constitutions or other forms of superior or domestic law


Participation and representation in decision-making and relevant bodies


Participation and representation in decision-making and relevant bodies is yet another critical domain and a prerequisite for Indigenous Peoples self-determined development. Nation states should recognize and ensure full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in all decisions that would affect their lands, territories, and resources, their cultural expressions and identities, traditional livelihoods, and etc.


The IPMG recommends the following indicators:


6.b: number of policies that support and strengthen the participation of indigenous peoples for improving water and sanitation management (also under special measures)


13.b: 1) percentage of indigenous peoples representatives in climate change related offices and high level meetings (also under climate change).16.7: 1. Provisions for direct participation of indigenous peoples’ elected representatives in legislative and elected bodies; 2. Recognition in the national legal framework of the duty to consult with indigenous peoples before adopting or implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them [WCIP commitment, paragraph 3]


A/RES/66/288 - The Future We Want




Paragraphs 33; 37


For further information contact the IPMG at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In February and March 2015, at least 14 indigenous women and girls in Bangladesh were subjected to sexual and physical violence. Of them, six women and girls raped including two rang raped, 7 were attempted to rape and one was physically assaulted in plain lands and Chittgaong Hill Tracts (CHT) of the country. Out of 14 victims, 7 victims were under age 18 and among the 7 victims, three girls were 6, 8 and 10–year old. A pregnant Marma woman also became under the victim of attempt to rape.


The total victims of indigenous women and girls relating to sexual and physical violence rose 20 in 2015 from January to March. In January 2015, six indigenous women and girls including one allegedly killed after rape were subjected to sexual violence across the country.


Indigenous Chakma woman attempted to rape in Fatikchari


On 1 February 2015, an indigenous Chakma woman, 28, of Chakmatilla under Fakitchari sub-district was allegedly attempted to rape by Mohammad Shahbuddin, 55, son of Animul Rahman of same sub-district’s Bholagaji village. This incident took place when the victim went to collect firewood at Karnaphuli Tea Garden situated near her village.


It is learnt that around 1:15 pm in the afternoon, when the victim went to collect firewood in Karnaphuli Tea Garden, Mohammad Shahbuddin followed her. When Mohammad Shahbuddin found her alone, he grabbed her from behind and tried to rape her forcefully. Victim however tried to save herself and resisted with a dao (sharp knife used for household and agricultural purposes) she was carrying. At that time some alteration took place between them and as a result, the alleged perpetrator Mohammad Shahbuddin was later found injured. The victim managed to flee from the spot and informed the locals about the incident. Mohammad Shahbuddin was taken to hospital for treatment. No case has been filed yet.


Two indigenous Chakma women attempted to rape in Laxmichari


On 1 February 2015, two indigenous girls, one 20-year old and other 18-year old, of Moishkata village under Laxmichhari upazila in Khagrachari district were allegedly attempted to rape by two Bengali settlers of Maghaichari’s Guchchha Gram’s (cluster village). The perpetrators have been identified are Mohammad Elias (18) son of Mohammad Robiul and Md. Zilhad (20) son of Md. Hannan. It is learnt that the victims were going to collect water from a stream nearby their home at around 1:30 pm in the afternoon, at that time Md. Elias and Md. Zihad suddenly appeared in the scene and tried to rape them grabbing them from behind. At that time the girls shouted out, as a result local indigenous villagers came to know about the incident and rushed to rescue them. Meanwhile, the miscreants managed to flee the scene. A case has been filed.


A minor Chakma girl attempted to rape Dighinala


On 2 February 2015, a Chakma girl, 13, was allegedly attempted to rape by a Bengali settler named Bashed Mia in Bachamorong village under Dighinala upazila in Khagrachari district while she was working at a tobacco field.


It is learnt that the victim is a student of grade eight at Betchhari High School. As she comes from a poor family, she has been compelled to work at the tobacco field of late Elahi Bux. Few other women belonging to Bengali settler community also works along with her. Like every other day, on 2 February 2015, the victim went to work early morning. However there was no one other than the victim working in the field on that very day. Between 8:00-9:00 am, finding the victim alone, the perpetrator Bashed Mian, 35, son of late Elahi Bux held the victim tight from the back and tried to rape her forcefully. At that time the victim shouted out for help. The local villagers rushed to the scene and rescued the victim. They held the alleged perpetrator Bashed Mian and later handed him over to the police. A case was filed with the Dighinala police station, under Women and Child Repression Prevention Act.


A Santal girl gang raped in Dinajpur


On 6 February 2015, at around 7:00 pm a 17-year old indigenous Santal girl was gang raped by two Bengali men at Barokona village under Parbotipur upazilla in Dinajpur district. Victim’s father Ram Hasda filed a case (No: 07, dated: 08.02.2015) against the perpetrators with Parbotipur model police station. It is learnt that, on the day of accident at around 7:00 pm, the victim was cooking alone at her home, at that time her parents were at local market place for shopping. In the meantime, Md. Lizu, 27, son of Md. Ajijul from Kalibari village and Md. Shafiqul Islam, 22, son of Faijar Rahman from Nayapara village came to the victim’s house and forcefully abducted her into the bamboo bushes near Lizu’s home. The rapist held and raped her overnight and they fled the spot after sunrise.


A minor Tripura girl raped in Manikchhari


On 12 February 2015 at around 12:30 pm a Tripura girl, 10, from Kalapani area under Manikchhari upazilla in Khagrachari was attempted to rape by a Bengali settler. It is learned that, on that day in the morning the victim went to the market. She was returning home from market by motorcycle. On her way back home a motorcycle driver belonging to Bengali settler community named Mohammad Faruk, 26, son of Tanu member (Khalil) of Kalapani area in Manikchhari Upazila under Khagrachhari district offered her a lift and she accepted the offer. At some point, Mohammad Faruk stopped the motorcycle at a quiet place and tried to grab her. At that time the victim shouted out and villagers from that neighborhood came to rescue her, but Md. Faruk immediately fled the scene. Later on the same day victim’s father filed a case with Manikchhari police station.


A pregnant Marma woman attempted to rape in Kaukhali


On 5 March 2015, some local goons made an attempt to rape a pregnant Marma woman of Headman Para village under Kaukhali in Rangamati tying her husband with rope. It is learnt from the locals that on that night at around 10:30 pm, a band of local goons numbering five led by Saddam Hossain, 21, son of Hashem Hossain, Bappi Majumder, 22, son of Gourango Majumder, made the attack at victim’s home. The band tied victim’s husband Uchi Maung Marma and bet him. Later they attempted to rape the pregnant woman and tried to loot a mobile phone form the victim. However after a lot of shouting and screaming, neighbors from nearby place came to rescue them, the next day Uchi Maung Marma went to file a case with Kaukhali police station, however police did not accept the case with the excuse of absence of the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of the police station. On 7 March 2015 Uchi Maung Marma went to the police station again and filed a case under Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000, case no.1 (2003) 9 (4) Kha/clause 30. The victim was sent to a local victim support centre. It is reported that the victim as well as the baby inside remained out of danger. It is learnt that this was not the first time the miscreants committed such crime, previously they had harassed other locals too. Police could not arrest anyone in this connection.


An indigenous woman gang raped in Dighinala


On 9 March 2015 at night an indigenous minor girl of Nonchari village under Dighinala upazilla in Khagrachari district was raped by some Bengali settlers. The victim is a 10th grade student. On that night the victim went to take part at an overnight religious ceremony (MahaMangal sutra) held at Dighinala Bana Bihar. She along with two of her companion were returning home at around 10:00 pm, after walking a distance they halted at a place called Kalvert nearby their house, at that time four Bengali settlers named Mohammad Sohel, 28, son of Abdur Rouf; Amir Hossain, 26, son of Late Ali Akbar; Sohag Mia, 32, son of Ali Newaz and Saiful Islam, 25, son of Liakat, came to the spot and told them that some boys from PCP were calling them and it was very urgent. Trusting the Bengali settlers they went to Kabakhali Bazaar with them. After they reached the place the perpetrators and locked the other two companions on Juba Sangha Club and raped the victim one by one. While the perpetrators were raping the victim one of the companion managed to escape the place and after going home she informed everyone about the incident. Later the companions father Milan Karbari informed the people through phone and on 10 March 2015 at around 6:00 am they rescued the victim and took her to Khagrachari Sadar hospital for treatment. Md. Sohel and Amir Hossain is the president of Dighinala district unit of Bangladesh Chattra league, the student wing of ruling Awami League. Md. Sohel was expelled from the organization following the incident. In order to exclude them from the group, a letter has been sent. It is learnt from Md. Shahdat Hossain Titu that one of the perpetrator Md. Sohel was arrested on 10 March around 11:45 am near Kathaltoli area in Dighinala sub-district. A case was filed under the Prevention of Women and Children’s Repression Act 2000.


An indigenous Chakma girl raped and shot video after kidnapping in Jurachari


On 20 March 2015 Naresh Chakma 20, son of Sugendu Chakma of Bonojogichara under Jurachari upazila abducted a girl from her residence of Jurachari upazila in Rangamati district and detained her in a place. Later he raped her and shot a video of him raping the girl. Naresh also threatened the girl saying, if she discloses the rape incident, he would circulate the video on internet. Later victim informed her relatives about the incident and the victim’s father with the help of Bonojogichara Union Council’s member Sushanto Chakma filed a case with Jurachari Police station. The victim is a girl of 10th grade in Jurachari upazila under Rangamati district.

On 20 March 2015, the perpetrator was arrested by police due to abduction, rape and circulation of nude video footage. It is learnt from Jurachari police station’s Officer-in-Charge Mohammad Yusuf Siddiqui that victim’s father himself filed a case under Women and Children Repression Prevention Act and Pornography Control Act.


A minor Marma girl attempted to rape in Rajasthali


On 22 March 2015, at about 4:45 pm, a 14-year old minor Marma girl was reportedly attempted to rape by a young Bengali settler boy at village of Kuturia Para of Bangal Halia union under Rajasthali upazila (sub-district) of Rangamati hill district. The Jumma girl is a student of grade seven of Bangal Halia High School.


It is learnt that at the above-said time the Jumma girl, address- Kuturia Para of Bangal Halia union, was returning home alone from her school. When she was passing almost half-way to home, then one Md. Raju (16) son of Md. Azad appeared there and grabbing her attempted to rape. The girl then and there shouted out and tried to tussle with the culprit. Hearing the shout of the girl, nearby villagers came there in a run and at this Md. Raju fled the spot quickly.


It is learnt that Md. Raju came there from Comilla few days back and is now staying at house of his grandmother Khodeza Begum (45) wife of Helal Uddin of No. 2 Kuturia Para of No. 3 Ward under Bangal Halia union of Rajasthali upazila. It is mentionable that the girl got injured too as she tried to escape the culprit and later was taken to a local clinic for treatment. Till preparing the report, the accused was not arrested.


An indigenous Santal minor girl raped in Ghoraghat of Dinajpur


On 23 March 2015 at around 11:30 am in the morning a 6-year old girl of Kucherpara village under Ghoraghat sub-district in Dinajpur district was raped in the same village by a local young boy.


It is learnt that on that day in the morning the victim was taken out of the house in the name of playing some games by the same village’s Samson Mardi, 15, son of Madar Mardi. While Samson Mardi was raping the victim, the victim cried and screamed loudly. Hearing the victim cry, locals from nearby area rushed to the spot to escape the victim. The victim was rescued with injuries with blood all over her body. She was immediately admitted to Ghoraghat hospital for medical treatment by the locals. After the incident, one of the family members of the victim filed a rape case in Ghoraghat police station. It is learnt through some source that Officer-in-Charge of Ghoraghat Police station, Farhad Imrul Kayes along with his group arrested the rapist and sent to Dinajpur central jail.


An indigenous girl attempted to rape in Rajshahi


On 25 March 2015, an 8-year old indigenous girl of Kondain village under Pachondor Union of Tanore sub-district in Rajshahi district was attempted to rape. After this incident, victim’s brother filed a case with Tanore police station.


It is learnt through the police and some source that on 24 March 2015, in the evening the victim was returning home after collecting some potatoes from the field. Knowing that no one was at home and the victim’s mother was admitted to hospital as she was sick, Abdul Aziz, 60, son of Late Joyen Uddin from the neighboring village, entered the house and rapeed the victim forcefully. Later when the victim’s grandmother Chintamoni returned home, she found the victim injured and blooded all over her body, when she asked the victim what had happened, the victim told everything in details. Knowing what has happened Chintamoni informed the locals, the locals tried to find Aziz, who in the mean fled from the place.


It is learnt that, the victim was admitted to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital for medical treatment and a case was filed under Women and Children Repression Prevention Act. Police is yet to catch Md. Aziz.


An indigenous Garo girl raped in Mymensingh


On 28 March 2015 an indigenous girl, 14, of East Sangra para village under Haluaghat sub-dustrict of Mymendingh district was raped by a cheat named Suman Mian, by tempting the victim in the name of marriage.


It is learnt through some source, Sumon Mian son of Dulu Mian and the victim had started alove affair on phone before 3-4 months. Taking advantage of this love affair, on 28 March 2015, Sumon called the victim to Jhinaigati bus terminal saying he would marry her. Trusting the perpetrator, the victim came to the spot, later Sumon took the victim to a mud house in Sangra village of Haluaghat union in a motor cycle. Assuring the victim that he made all the arrangement of their marriage and soon at night they will get married. Sumon raped the victim forcefully and left the girl alone in a road of Baghaitola and fled the spot.


Hearing the victim cry in the road, an old man ruched to the spot and provided her shelter for one night, next day on 29 March 2015, the old man informed the victim’s mother Minoti Chisim. Hearing the news Minoti Chisim, filed a case on 29 March 2015 under Women and Children Repression Prevention Act. However the police failed to arrest the perpetrator. The perpetrator is roaming around publicly without any fear.


After this incident on 30 March 2015, Haluaghat Police conducted a medical test of the victim and on that same day took the victim and her mother to Mymensigh and under section 22, the Executive Magistrate accepted the Testament of the victim and her mother.


An indigenous Chakma woman physically assaulted in Rangamati


On 30 March 2015, it is learnt that an indigenous Chakma woman, 45, of Shutkipotti area under Reserve Bazaar in Rangamati district was beaten up. The victim was admitted to Rangamati general hospital.


It is learnt that the victim herself filed a written complaint with Kotwali police station under Rangamati district against the perpetrator. The victim is from Bhushonchara union under Barkal Upazila.


Through the complaint it is learnt that on 30 March 2015 around 5:00 pm in the evening the victim goes to Shutkipotti area of Reserve Bazaar in order to buy some dry fish from a business man named Md. Akhter’s shop. While buying the dry fish the victim gave BDT 1000 to the shop keeper Md. Akhter, 45, as the shop keeper did not have any change, the victim brought some change from her husband keeping the dry fish at the shop. While she was taking the dry fish, the shop keeper replaced the good fish with the rotten fish. After seeing this, the victim asked the shopkeeper to return her money, as the shopkeeper did not return the money an alteration took place between them, at some point the shopkeeper beat the victim. Later some neighboring shopkeepers came to the spot and rescued the victim and admitted her to Rangamati general hospital.



Kapaeeng Foundation

(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Web:

Thank you, Your Excellencies!


My name is Martha Lekitony Ntoipo from Pastoralist Information and Development Organization which is a part of the Indigenous Information Network.


It is encouraging to see the ambitious goals set to come after the Millennium Development Goals, as women and Indigenous for that matter; there are a number of goals that touch our lives and improve our well being if there will be serious and inclusive/participatory approach in the implementation at all levels but most crucially the National Level.


It would therefore make greater sense to have the globally approved goals with its target and Indicators but take a step further to domesticate them and shape them according to the need of each Individual State.


These goals have general as well as specific definition and to specific groups like women and Indigenous people, we would like to reiterate that


  1. Targets are SMART, specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic and time bound to ensure smooth monitoring and evaluation of the goals set.

  2. There is a human-rights based approach towards achieving the goals as well as full participation of all stakeholders( youth, women and indigenous people) at all stages.

  3. Specific Targets which may have been overlooked and are attached to Cultural practices and are a threat to a certain section of the society are paid close attention to, for Example Target 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriages as well as Female Genital Mutilation.


We call on you in your capacities to discuss and adopt a document that gives hope to everyone and priority to human rights with emphasis on those of women and girls, gender equality, social services such as health, infrastructure, education accessible to all especially those who live in the villages, environmental sustainability and empowerment of women and girls in all areas of decision making by enabling their full political participation.


Thank you very Much