After six months as the World Bank's Senior Adviser for Indigenous Peoples, I have found that we have a golden opportunity to strengthen our commitment to Indigenous Peoples and bring them in as partners as we work to fulfill the World Bank’s mission of eradicating extreme poverty, achieving shared prosperity, and fostering sustainable development.
I have had the opportunity over the past several months to launch a conversation with Indigenous Peoples around the world. It began as a preliminary discussion of how best to consult around our safeguards policies, but it has become much more, in large part due to the tremendous energy and enthusiasm of indigenous groups.
In our first meeting in Guatemala this spring, we were talking with Mesoamerican representatives about the outreach we would be starting soon around safeguards policies. They listened and then said: Well, what we think you’re trying to do is actually to have a dialogue with us. Through dialogue, you do not just ask us what we think of a finished or semi-finished product, but rather you listen to our points of view, and we have a conversation about it, a discussion, to reach an agreement. And that’s what we’ve done, and we’ve received expressions of approval, enthusiasm and hope from Indigenous Peoples in many parts of the world – Russia to Thailand to Peru.