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The IDB and Indigenous Peoples

The IDB recognizes the unique role of indigenous peoples as stakeholders in the development of the region and, therefore, aims to create the conditions for indigenous peoples to thrive and grow in harmony with their surroundings by capitalizing on the potential of their cultural, natural, and social assets according to their own priorities.

Indigenous peoples bear a disproportionate share of the negative impacts of climate change due in part to the vulnerability of their lands. They are important leaders for climate change adaptation strategies.

The indigenous population in Latin America is estimated at around 40 to 50 million people, or 8% to 10% of the region’s overall population. Indigenous peoples account for at least half of the population in countries such as Bolivia, Guatemala, and Peru. The more than 400 indigenous peoples in the region are culturally and linguistically heterogeneous. Despite their cultural richness, indigenous peoples represent the poorest segments of the population in most countries.

In February 2006 the IDB approved an Operational Policy on Indigenous Peoples and Strategy for Indigenous Development to establish the long-term objectives, principles, requirements, conditions, and rules for Bank activities vis-à-vis indigenous peoples in general. Specifically, the strategy defines the concept of development with identity, and presents a brief assessment of the status of indigenous peoples in the region and provides a summary of the Bank’s experience.

Why focus on indigenous peoples?

Despite great strides in poverty reduction in the region as a whole, indigenous peoples have not seen the sharp reductions in poverty experienced in the overall population and are still more likely to live in poverty. Closing the gaps between indigenous peoples and the population as a whole is one of the strategic priorities of the Ninth General Capital Increase.

What we do

  • Climate change adaptation:The IDB supports capacity-building programs for indigenous leaders and organizations in national and international consultations, with the goal of contributing to knowledge on effective practices with national and international climate change bodies. The medium-term goal is to identify indigenous-led approaches that incorporate both traditional knowledge and new science to reduce the effects of climate change in indigenous regions.
  • Direct investment: The IDB is investing in programs related to entrepreneurship and technical assistance. An example is the Rural Economic Development Program, which seeks to raise incomes of rural, mainly indigenous populations in eight of Guatemala’s 22 departments. The project finances the construction of basic production infrastructure, technical assistance, creation of production linkages and activities to increase access to foreign markets.
  • Safeguards: The Bank seeks to conduct financial operations to identify and address adverse impacts and comply with the safeguards established in the Operational Policy on Indigenous Peoples, and other international and national standards. Consequently, the Bank has adopted the measures necessary to ensure that its activities and operations do not jeopardize or undermine the rights of indigenous peoples.

In 2009 the IDB launched a Gender and Diversity Fund to support mainstreaming of indigenous peoples, African descendants and women in Latin America and the Caribbean. During 2011, the Fund financed 7 projects for a total of US$ 3,3 million.

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