Rights and discrimination

Upholding the rights of indigenous peoples in Asia: A key to address climate change

Around two thirds of the world’s indigenous peoples live in Asia. An ILO study reviews the legal and policy frameworks which tackle the challenges they face and highlights the pivotal role they play in combating climate change and building resilient societies.

News | 01 March 2017
BANGKOK (ILO News) – Achieving global commitments on climate change, sustainable development as well as full and productive employment and decent work for all will require a stronger focus on indigenous and tribal peoples, according to a new study published by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Indigenous peoples’ contribution is increasingly being recognized as fundamental for combatting climate change and enhancing environmental sustainability, particularly through their traditional knowledge, occupations and ways of life.

Two thirds of the world’s indigenous peoples are estimated to live in Asia, approximately 260 million people, representing more than 2,000 distinct civilizations and languages. However, they continue to be among the poorest of the poor, even though sustained growth and poverty reduction efforts of the region have significantly contributed to declining poverty rates. This is a stark reminder of the unique challenges faced by indigenous women and men.

The report entitled The rights of indigenous peoples in Asia takes stock of and provides an overview on national legal and policy frameworks relevant for indigenous peoples including public policies on cultural, social and economic rights, particularly with respect to employment and occupation.

The report aims to identify gaps, challenges and policy recommendations for promoting and protecting indigenous peoples’ rights in Asia and fostering inclusive and sustainable development. It was prepared as a contribution towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The study covers a selection of ten countries in South Asia and South-East Asia, namely: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

It can serve as a tool to inform future policy debates and ensure that indigenous peoples’ rights, concerns and aspirations are an integral part of development strategies and plans.

For more information please contact:

Ms Joni Simpson
Senior Specialist, Gender, Equality & Non-discrimination
International Labour Organization Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Ms Laetitia Dard
Senior Communication Officer
International Labour Organization Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific