Many of the world’s resources are located on land owned or controlled by indigenous peoples. This means businesses are frequently in close contact with indigenous groups and improving their relationships is becoming increasingly important. Yet many of the world’s indigenous people have suffered abuse, discrimination and marginalization, including at the hands of business. As a result, many indigenous people live in poverty. Their cultures, languages and livelihoods are threatened.
There are 476.6 million indigenous peoples globally, of which 238.4 million are women and 238.2 million men, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Comprising about 9 per cent of the world’s population, indigenous peoples represent about 19 per cent of the world’s poor and remain especially vulnerable to displacement, violence and human rights abuses and the impacts of commercial development and business activities. In some cases, the damage they’ve experienced cannot be undone.
Indigenous people can contribute significant knowledge, helping businesses better understand local operating contexts. When businesses treat indigenous people with understanding and respect, they are also more likely to obtain and maintain their social license to operate. Investors, local communities and other stakeholders now expect them to do this.
Respecting the rights of indigenous people can also help avoid expensive operational risks. Risks could include work stoppages, blockades or lawsuits.
We believe there are opportunities to involve indigenous people in business ventures as owners, suppliers, contractors and employees. This can contribute to the long-term success of projects and help embed businesses in the local community.
Please visit the Business & Human Rights Navigator for an in-depth analysis, due diligence recommendations, as well as case studies illustrating how other businesses have responsibly addressed their adverse human rights impacts on indigenous peoples.