Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples reflection

August 9, 2018

On this day, we underline the continuing plight of indigenous peoples all over the world. More than ever, developmental and other related pressures have caused an increasing trend of migration among communities.

Many indigenous peoples have relocated to urban areas in search of better economic opportunities for themselves and their families. Some communities have been displaced due to unrest in their own lands brought about by intimidation and/or the unforgiving impacts of climate change.


In most cases, these movements have further alienated and oppressed indigenous peoples, adding further to the already intersectional layers of discrimination.

This year’s International Day of the World Indigenous Peoples, we zero in on the situation of indigenous peoples in relation to their territories, their identities, and their rights.



A significant percentage of the world’s genetic resources can be found on indigenous people’s lands. Thus, support for community-based ecosystem and resource management strategies that uphold traditional knowledge need to be sustained.  


Traditional cultural expressions have the potential to provide fair economic benefits to indigenous communities. Acknowledging this, gaps in the market need to be linked to provide better economic opportunities for indigenous communities.


Many indigenous peoples remain extremely vulnerable to health-related risks like malnutrition and other preventable infections. While the abundance of resources found in the environment have long been used by communities for nutritional and medicinal uses, the agenda on food and health security in terms of policy and practice has to be emphasized.


Despite the persistence of aggression over land and resources. there is a growing discursive space on the recognition of indigenous peoples’ right to govern their customary tenure and/or resource use rights. Enabling policies that promote the recognition of communal tenure rights, resource management, and governance systems have to be advocated more strongly. 


The myriad of challenges that indigenous communities around the world continue to brave is evidence of the persistence of their struggle towards self-determination. Hence, the ways by which indigenous peoples’, specifically women and the youth, can genuinely participate in the bigger sustainable development picture have to be revitalized.

Over the years, indigenous peoples have sought for the recognition of their way of life that is linked intimately to their rights over their territories. However, this has been met with a long history of systemic inequality. In this light, the Non-Timber Forest Products–Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP) calls for the realization of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.