Three reasons why we should all care about Indigenous Peoples


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August 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Worldwide, there are about 370 million Indigenous Peoples and ethnic minorities living in more than 90 countries worldwide.

No matter where we live or who we are, we should all care about Indigenous Peoples. Why?



First, Indigenous Peoples and ethnic minorities are more likely to be poor.

Although Indigenous Peoples make up only 5% of the global population, they account for about 15% of the world’s extreme poor. They are overrepresented.

And if you’re from an indigenous family in Latin America, then you’re three times more likely to be in poverty than someone from a non-indigenous family in the same region.

[Download report: Indigenous Latin America in the Twenty-First Century]

Second, while there have been advances, Indigenous Peoples and ethnic minorities continue to face exclusion and marginalization, and lack equal access to basic services.

From India to Peru, indigenous women are less likely to use healthcare facilities for childbirth because of discrimination, mistreatment, and a lack of respect for cultural practices.

Indigenous Peoples’ life expectancy is up to 20 years lower than the life expectancy of non-indigenous people worldwide.
In Latin America, despite the major expansion of basic services, indigenous populations’ access to sanitation and electricity is 15% and 18% lower, respectively, than that of others in the region.

[Download report: Inclusion Matters: The Foundation of Shared Prosperity]

Third, Indigenous Peoples help protect our environment, fight climate change, and build resilience to natural disasters, yet their rights aren’t always protected.

While Indigenous Peoples own, occupy, or use a quarter of the world’s surface area, they safeguard 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity.


Over 20% of the world’s tropical forest carbon is stored in Indigenous People’s territories in the Amazon Basin, Mesoamerica, the DRC, and Indonesia.

However, only a fraction of indigenous lands are officially recognized by states.

The year of 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It reminds us just how big the challenge remains – to secure Indigenous Peoples’ basic rights and make sure they’re included in the development process, so they have the opportunity to live safer, healthier, and more prosperous lives. 


Join the Conversation

James Riek
August 09, 2017

That is true, but countries such as my country, South Sudan does not know that, we all care about indigenous people, are poor in their country

Akin Olatidoye
August 09, 2017

I appreciate the way you have used data to tell a very humane and compelling story about indigeneous peoples.

May 23, 2019

So nice is the reminder that IPs are very important. We tend to neglect the IPs just because their formal knowledge is very margin.

bertha haydee
August 09, 2017

Indigenous people whereever they be living in their own personnal live forms must be protect because they care forests and living natural spaces, ancestral wisdom knowledge, build resilience and live in peace and accordingly the nature way, saving from extinction species and practicing natural knowledge in healthy treatments and others which are unvaluable. dra. bertha from peru

Kenn Rapp
August 10, 2017

Ede, Maninder, Luis Felipe: This is a very well put together piece, with a lot of useful facts. There are large numbers of people exhibiting indigenous characteristics who are not recognized as such, especially in South and East Asia, leading to the possibility that the number of IPs worldwide is considerably higher, as is the amount of forest carbon stored in the territories that they control.

bang yasri
May 23, 2019

thanks for u support

Dr. Mohamed Taher Abdelrazik Hamada,Ph.D
August 18, 2017

It seems to me that it is a perfect idea to have the International Day of the
World's Indigenous People, because these people represent the roots of any nation, some of them are in Africa and North America, represented mainly in the native American Indians. These people should be supported as part of the World history, and
world culture phenomena that can be used in a right way as historical lessons to be
taught at schols to enhance the creative abilities and imagination of our world coming
Yours Very Respectfully,
Dr. Mohamed Taher Abdelrazik Hamada, Ph.D
Retired Professor at Strayer University, USA
Email [email protected]

Anna Kele
August 19, 2017

It would be great to have a study on the main reasons of their poverty ! We have got a group of people (most of them are migrants) who themselves decided to live outside the cities in poor conditions far away from schools and the local people. The fight for the farms and other territories what they wish to buy is extraordinery and dangerous for those people who are not ready to sell them what they wish to get. Poverty is a "flag" for some of them to punish everybody who is not ready to follow them and share their views. The responsibility of the churches (religions)and other civilians are very high in the protection of the human values and the local culture including the local people's life and their privacy ! Trust is over, the loss is huge, unfortunately.

August 19, 2017

The truth is always hidden but when reveal , it path the way for development
most indigenous or minority population right are tamter with as a result of not being represented in the Nation Government
marginalization is something to cut down to avoid disputed path

August 21, 2017

In Kenya the ogiek-IP have just worn a case over the forest where they live and they were about to be removed.My concern is,they have been misused by others to access the forest and cut down trees and degrade indigenous forests.
If they are provided with the goods of modernity,would they remain indigenous as they are today,if they access modern education,medicine would they still keep the indigenous education and medicine.Its nice to mark the day but the paradox remains.