Click here for search results
Online Media Briefing Cntr
Embargoed news for accredited journalists only.
Login / Register

With Endorsement From Indigenous Peoples Leaders, World Bank Launches Global Fund

Fund Will Directly Assist Indigenous Peoples
Press Release No:2004/46S
Contacts: Sergio Jellinek 202-458-2841
Kristyn Ebro 202-458-2736

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2003

WASHINGTON, August 8, 2003—With the recent endorsement of Indigenous Peoples leaders and approval of the Board of Executive Directors, the World Bank announced today – on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – that it is ready to begin operations of an innovative Fund which will support the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the decisions that affect their future.

The Global Fund for Indigenous Peoples will provide financial support for  i) a Grant Facility providing small grants directly to Indigenous Peoples Organizations for development related activities; ii) a capacity building program for Indigenous Peoples leaders in the Andean region; and iii) strengthening the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Professor Ole-Henrik Magga, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, welcomed the Global Fund, emphasizing that “the Permanent Forum sees this initiative, and the process around it, as a success.”  He stressed that the Permanent Forum “stands ready to assist in this effort.”

In particular, on the Grants Facility, Viktor Kaisiepo of the Indigenous Organization ‘Dewan Adat Papua’ and Chair of the Grants Facility Preparatory Committee, said that the relationship between the World Bank and Indigenous Peoples should “be guided by dialogue, partnership, and cooperation,” adding that the initiative will assist in strengthening such principles.

“The World Bank recognizes that Indigenous Peoples can play a vital role as partners in global sustainable development,” said Ian Johnson, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development. They hold a special place in the world due to their unique circumstances, heritage, and history.  In a time of increasing resource scarcity, the greatest challenge for development agencies is to learn to build on the strengths of existing social and cultural organizations.  The wisdom and experience of Indigenous Peoples have survived for many generations and it is the Bank’s aim to help ensure that they remain for generations to come.”

With some estimates placing their number at over 200 million and living in more than seventy countries, Indigenous Peoples have historically been the most disadvantaged, marginalized, and excluded populations in many  parts of the world.  Their identities, cultures, lands, and resources are uniquely intertwined and especially vulnerable to changes caused by development programs.

“The economic, social, and legal status of Indigenous Peoples often limits their capacity to participate in and benefit from development,” emphasized Navin Rai, World Bank Indigenous Peoples Coordinator“Due to the complexity of these issues, special measures are required to ensure that Indigenous Peoples are not disadvantaged or further marginalized, and that they receive culturally compatible economic benefits under development programs.  This Global Fund is helping to address these issues.”

The Bank’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples in the twenty-first century has moved beyond its modest ‘do no harm’ objective of its earliest policies of a generation ago.  Beyond its safeguard Indigenous Peoples Policy, the Bank is committed to a wide variety of Indigenous Peoples development activities to meet the serious development challenges facing them.  To adequately respond to these challenges, the Bank’s program is based on a long-term perspective, which recognizes the situations faced by Indigenous Peoples in each country where they live and the challenges in bringing about change in historic attitudes, practice, and behavior.

The Global Fund is the result of a successful series of interactions with Indigenous Peoples leaders from around the world, starting with an Indigenous Peoples Roundtable held in Washington, DC, in October 2002, that included the participation of 15 representatives of Indigenous Peoples from various regions of the globe.  The Global Fund has three components:

  • The Grants Facility will provide grants to Indigenous Peoples Organizations worldwide – offering them a direct opportunity to design and implement sustainable development projects and programs based on their own aspirations.

The Grants Facility will make a direct, measurable contribution to improve the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in development operations, augment their access to key decision-makers, and promote Indigenous Peoples’ empowerment at both national and local levels.

Indigenous Peoples leaders are actively included in the governance of the Grants Facility from the beginning. The Grants Facility will be managed by the Grants Facility Board (expected to be set up by December 2003) composed of representatives of Indigenous Peoples as well as representatives of civil society, private sector, donors, and the World Bank.  The Board will establish the criteria and guidelines for small grants to Indigenous Peoples Organizations.  The Secretariat of the Grants Facility, currently located in the Bank, will be subsequently transferred to another appropriate organization.

Initially, in Fiscal Year (FY) 04, $350,000 will be allocated by the World Bank to this Grants Facility, with additional resources to be mobilized from other donors and partners.  The Bank intends to support grantmaking for the second and third years of the program. 

  • A targeted program of capacity-building for Indigenous Peoples leaders in the Andean region of South America, a three-year pilot program, is designed to strengthen the Indigenous Peoples Organizations of the Andean countries – Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela – by training Indigenous Peoples leaders who participate actively in the formation of public policies supporting culturally sensitive development among the indigenous communities of Latin America.  The World Bank contributed US $100,000 in FY 03 and will provide at minimum a similar amount in FY 04.

The Fondo Indígena, a highly respected international organization whose Board has an equal representation of Indigenous Peoples and government representatives, will be the main Andean Program partner.  It will manage the program with technical assistance advisory services from World Bank staff, the Development Gateway, and the World Bank Institute (WBI).  It is envisioned that this program will be replicated in other geographical regions in subsequent years.

  • Financial support for strengthening the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. A newly-established advisory body to the UN Economic and Social Council, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has a mandate to provide advice and recommendations on six areas pertaining to Indigenous Peoples: Economic and Social Development, Culture, Environment, Education, Health and Human Rights. It also has a mandate to promote the integration and coordination of activities relating to Indigenous Peoples issues among the Specialized UN Agencies, including the World Bank. With the establishment of the Permanent Forum, Indigenous Peoples now have an institution that provides them with a stronger voice at the international level.

With its contribution of US$150,000 for FY 04, the World Bank joins in this global partnership of Indigenous Peoples, the UN system, and other donors to support the work program of the Permanent Forum.

The Global Fund for Indigenous Peoples will increase the participation of Indigenous Peoples in policy formulation and the design and implementation of projects in their respective communities and countries.  The Global Fund will also help Indigenous Peoples Organizations in their ability to engage government agencies in their policy reform dialogue. 

These activities will help indigenous leaders to identify the challenges facing their communities and seek out participation opportunities, partnerships, and alliances with other organizations in the public and private sectors.  They will also increase the ability of Indigenous Peoples Organizations to work with government counterparts in order to improve the outcome of projects and programs intended for Indigenous Peoples.

For more information, please see the website:


Permanent URL for this page: