Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Target 9. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources

Target 10. Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

Target 11. Have achieved by 2020 a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

In view of the importance of land and natural resources for indigenous peoples' livelihood, the MDG goal of ensuring environmental sustainability is crucial. The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development identified indigenous peoples as one of the major stakeholders in Agenda 21. However, indigenous' peoples rights regarding the environment and natural resources have frequently been overridden by governments, transnational corporations or multilateral agencies. Without the Free Prior and Informed Consent of indigenous peoples and their participation in the decision making processes, projects and programs have been implemented, having a serious impact on the utilization, management and development of indigenous lands and resources. These projects and programmes include commercial agriculture such as mono-cropping, commercial tree plantations, oil palm plantations and others; development and operation of large scale mining;construction and operation of large dams, and water privatization policies.

Convention on Biological Diversity

In relation to ensuring environmental sustainability, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an important tool for indigenous peoples. The CBD sets out the states' obligations to protect and sustainably use their biological diversity. Some of its articles deal with issues of particular relevance to indigenous peoples' rights, so the processes surrounding it are becoming an increasingly important arena for indigenous peoples' struggle for the promotion and protection of their rights at the international level.

Further reading

Read more about sustainable development on IWGIA's website by clicking here.

Read more about the Convention on Biological Diversity on IWGIA's website by clicking here.

MDGs and the Maasai of Kenya: What Prospects, What Challenges?, by Michael Ochieng Odhiambo, MPIDO, 2006

Indigenous Affairs 2/2005 - Shifting Cultivation. The whole issue can be downloaded by clicking here.

Indigenous Affairs 4/2004 - Land Rights: A Key Issue. The whole issue can be downloaded by clicking here.


IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

Contact IWGIA

Prinsessegade 29 B, 3rd floor
DK 1422 Copenhagen
Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
E-mail: iwgia@iwgia.org
CVR: 81294410

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