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Projects in Asia

Aims and objectives

IWGIA's project work in Asia is aimed at empowering indigenous peoples through:

  • Strengthening the regional network of indigenous peoples' organizations. The network coordinates participation in international processes, exchange of knowledge and information and cooperation between different organizations in specific activities.
  • Supporting local organizations and strengthening their capacity to address the problems they are confronted with.

Thematic priories

Five thematic priorities form the basis of IWGIA's project work in Asia:

Self-organising and empowerment

This programme component addresses one of the main weaknesses of many indigenous peoples: the lack of capacity to address the problems they are confronted with. It is the core component of the Asia program since IWGIA is convinced that the necessary changes will occur only if indigenous peoples themselves assert and push for the recognition of their rights at all levels – the local, national, regional and international.

Land and resource rights

Since land and natural resources constitute the basis of indigenous peoples’ livelihood, culture and identity, the right over, access to and sound management of land and natural resources is one of the most critical factors on which the survival of indigenous peoples depend. However, indigenous peoples all over the world, including in Asia, are rapidly loosing control over the land and resources. Supporting indigenous peoples to secure and defend their land and natural resource rights and subsequently develop frameworks for sustainable management of their lands, territories and resources has therefore a always been a priority in IWGIA's work.

Self-determination, peace processes and constructive agreements with the State

Indigenous peoples’ control over and participation in decision-making on all matters that affect their lives forms the core of their right to self-determination and the basis for their enjoyment of the full range of human rights. IWGIA therefore supports indigenous peoples to be in full control of their internal decision making, and have access to and participate in all decision making of the State and other key institutions that directly or indirectly impact on indigenous peoples and their communities.

Climate Change

In recent years, climate change has emerged as a new threat and challenge due to both its direct impact on the livelihood of indigenous peoples and the various mitigation schemes currently devised which further threaten indigenous peoples’ control over their land and resources. In Asia, IWGIA particularly addresses issues related to REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) by promoting approaches in national REDD strategies that take both long-term forest conservation and the rights and concerns of indigenous peoples into account.

Information dissemination and awareness raising through publishing in local languages

To supplement the advocacy and awareness raising activities undertaken, a range of different kinds of publications and information materials is produced. A major focus of IWGIA’s publication work in Asia is on producing training material and easily accessible information and educational material (for translation into local languages) targeting indigenous leaders, activists and community members. This is linked to an intensified focus on training and capacity building in the overall Asia programme.

Geographical priorities

IWGIA’s project work in Asia is confined to South and Southeast Asia where IWGIA has supported indigenous organizations' work since the mid 1990's. Due to limited resources, project work is concentrated in a few countries, namely:

  • The Philippines
  • Malaysia
  • Nepal
  • India
  • Laos

Smaller projects are supported in:

  • Bangladesh
  • Indonesia
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam