Indigenous water protectors marching

Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations estimates that there are roughly over 476 million indigenous peoples living around the world, from the Arctic to the South Pacific, in over 90 countries. Indigenous Peoples are entitled to all internationally recognized human rights (see the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples), which includes their individual and collective rights to self-determination, culture, land, and resources. Free, prior and informed Consent (FPIC) is an important mechanism that protects these rights by allowing indigenous peoples to have a say over business activities that impact their lives.

Indigenous peoples are heavily dependent on lands and natural resources for their basic needs and livelihoods and are, therefore, particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of business activities. They are also important defenders of human rights and the environment. Where indigenous peoples may be impacted, investors should require companies to adopt policies and practices to ensure that all aspects of their operations are respectful of the rights of indigenous peoples, in accordance with international standards and not just domestic law, including with regard to requirements of consultation and consent. 

In 2022, the UN special rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples reported on an “alarming number of cases in the mining, oil and gas, hydroelectric and agribusiness sectors whereby foreign investment projects have resulted in serious violations of indigenous peoples’ land, self-governance and cultural rights.” Therefore, according to the special rapporteur, companies should conduct due diligence to ensure that their actions will not violate or be complicit in violating Indigenous peoples’ rights, identifying and assessing any actual or potential adverse human rights impacts of a resource extraction project. 

Investor Alliance Collaboration 

The Investor Alliance and a number of its members participate in the Investors and Indigenous Peoples Working Group, which serves as a clearinghouse for education, news, and joint action to bridge and bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities on issues related to sustainable and responsible investing.