To us, everything begins with partnerships.

Over more than 50 years, IWGIA has built and developed unique, long-standing partnerships with Indigenous Peoples’ organisations and networks from all seven Indigenous regions. Our partnerships are based on respect for Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and a conviction that Indigenous Peoples are the most powerful agents of change.

Our unique partnerships with a diverse number of projects and strategic partners, including Indigenous organisations in developed and developing countries, UN agencies, international and regional human rights institutions, civil society organisations and donors, are one of IWGIA’s main assets.

IWGIA’s project partners are first and foremost Indigenous Peoples’ own organisations. IWGIA-supported activities are mainly designed and implemented by Indigenous Peoples’ organisations themselves. An important criterion for IWGIA’s choice of partners is that they are not only rooted in their Indigenous communities but are also recognised as the legitimate representatives of and advocates for those communities.

Below are some of the projects we're currently implementing with our partners.

Support to the protection and promotion of the rights of Indigenous Peoples

This project aims to ensure that Indigenous Peoples’ rights to land, territories and natural resources are promoted, respected and protected. Towards this end, through this engagement, Indigenous Peoples (including Indigenous women) exercise their right to land, territories and natural resources through effective documentation, advocacy and empowerment in 7 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and globally through engagement in international bodies.

The theory of change seeks to contribute to four outputs where Indigenous Peoples face particular challenges and where positive change can contribute to achieving the objective. It does that through the following four thematic programme areas of engagement:

  1. Climate action, where IWGIA supports Indigenous Peoples affected by climate change and climate action to ensure that their rights are respected and that they contribute with their knowledge to solutions to climate change.
  2. Land rights and land defenders, where IWGIA supports Indigenous Peoples to claim and exercise their rights to land, territories and natural resources in a safer way at national, regional and international levels.
  3. Territorial governance, where IWGIA supports Indigenous Peoples’ creation and consolidation of self-governance and autonomy, and promotes dialogue with national authorities and international human rights mechanisms.
  4. Global governance, where IWGIA supports Indigenous Peoples' engagement with international decision-making processes and seeks redress of human rights violations through the international and regional human rights systems.

Empowering Indigenous women in Africa and Asia

This project contributes to building a movement of Indigenous women led by Indigenous women’s organisations that protect and promote their rights in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nepal and Tanzania. The project specifically provides funding to civil society, a knowledge exchange platform and collective advocacy opportunities.

Indigenous women all over the world experience a “broad, multifaceted and complex spectrum of mutually reinforcing human rights abuses” due to their particular position of vulnerability amongst patriarchal power structures (Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, UNGA A/HRC/30/41). Women are disproportionately affected by the systemic poverty that affects Indigenous Peoples, due to their roles as caregivers and managers of resources in their communities. The Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples found that Indigenous women are commonly excluded from both Indigenous decision-making structures and local and national political processes, which leads to a lack of priority for women’s concerns in policymaking. Indigenous women are very often targets of multiple forms of violence, including structural violence that results in their being victimized by the circumstances of everyday life.

Indigenous women have begun to organize in associations, networks and alliances to speak up against violence, discrimination and violations of their rights and promote change. Often, traditional Indigenous and women NGOs and Community-Based Organisations do not encompass in their approaches the specific issues faced by and needs of Indigenous women. A number of networks of Indigenous women at national, regional and international levels have been set up providing support to local organisations in the form of capacity building, advocacy or funding. But in comparison to western networks of Indigenous women, the networks in Africa and Asia are still nascent and lack access to a global movement that can amplify their voices at all levels from local to international through adapted funding, knowledge-sharing and collective action opportunities.

Featured stories:

Indigenous Navigator

Towards full and effective recognition and realisation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights

The Indigenous Navigator vision is to provide accessible data, by and with Indigenous Peoples, that will support self-determined development and grounded advocacy towards the full and effective recognition and realisation of Indigenous Peoples' rights.

Our mission is to support and empower Indigenous Peoples’ organisations in generating and using data to enhance community-based monitoring as a tool for self-determination, self-governance and effective self-determined development. This data hold duty bearers accountable for their human rights violations, obligations and sustainable development commitments. Furthermore, we support the formation of alliances with key stakeholders and the provision of quality data to relevant actors, including the United Nations, governments, national statistical offices, media, businesses and civil society to highlight the situation of Indigenous Peoples and support the full implementation and realisation of their rights.

The project expands the Indigenous Navigator’s geographic outreach and impact – which is already in 11 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America – aiming to: add 14 new countries; improve its tools; add new supplemental modules to address biodiversity, climate change, gender and due diligence; enhance its dissemination components; and strengthen ongoing and new advocacy activities at both international and national levels. It will also continue to sustain the capacity-building and empowerment of Indigenous communities from previous phases of the project that have developed and implemented an approach that is proven highly relevant, effective, efficient and sustainable.

Featured reports:

Monitoring Indigenous Peoples’ rights in Sápmi

This project, developed by leading Sámi institutions, Sámi University of Applied Sciences (SUAS), the Saami Council (SC) and IWGIA seeks to implement the Indigenous Navigator – a framework and set of tools for and by Indigenous Peoples to monitor the level of recognition and implementation of their rights – in Sápmi.

The project’s overall goals are to enable Sámi People to:

  1. Collect relevant, high-quality data about the implementation of their human rights;
  2. Understand how the rights enshrined in international mechanisms can be translated into concrete action; and
  3. Engage with duty bearers at local, national and international levels with a view to claiming their rights and pushing for measures to ensure they are not left behind.

Featured story:

Core support for the Territorial Governance Programme to advance the recognition of Indigenous governance in global spaces

The goal of this project is that Indigenous Peoples in targeted countries are enjoying the right to self-determination, including the right to establish and maintain their own system of territorial governance.

By the end of the 24-month period the Territorial governance programme is expected to achieve the following:

  • Greater recognition of targeted Indigenous governments by national authorities and international human rights mechanisms.
  • Targeted Indigenous organizations and/or communities have the capacity to produce and distribute communication content in service of internal strengthening of Indigenous territories as well as to inform policy changes with national authorities and general public in favor of recognition of Indigenous Peoples rights, including the right to self-determination.
  • International and regional human rights mechanisms develop and promote tools for the advancement of the right of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination.
  • Strengthened position of IWGIA as a source of analysis on the situation around Indigenous Peoples' right to self-determination, including models of territorial governance and autonomy processes. 

Professionalism as a foundation for commitment - CBS students meet CSR challenges through concrete cases

This project aims at engaging Copenhagen Business School (CBS) students in protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

A Masterclass at CBS with a focus on human rights and especially the rights of Indigenous Peoples in connection with the actions of companies, will make the students – the decision-makers of the future in Denmark's companies – interested in rights issues and the SDGs in relation to their professional interests. The examples we will present to the students are based on issues that they will be able to meet in their future professional work.

At the same time, it is expected that the students will also be motivated by personally meeting with Indigenous Peoples from Kenya and Malaysia, who will tell about their experiences around companies' violations of, for example, their land rights.

Kæmp med Skovens Beskyttere

Oprindelige folk udgør 6% af verdens befolkning men beskytter med livets som indsats næsten en fjerdedel af den globale landoverflade fx. tropiske skove og andre unikke øko-systemer vitale for bevarelsen af biodiversiteten. Trods respekten for naturen og en unik bæredygtig livsstil, er oprindelige folks viden og praksis gennem tiden blevet nedgjort som værdiløs, uvidenskabelig, tilbagestående og sågar ødelæggende.

I nyere tid er dette narrativ blevet udfordret af bl.a. stærke oprindelige miljøforkæmpere, der trodser vold og diskrimination for at forsvare naturen. Projektet ’Kæmp med Skovens Beskyttere’, vil styrke unge oprindelige klimaaktivister i Thailand og Malaysia i klimakampen.


Indigenous Peoples make up 6% of the world's population but protect almost a quarter of the global land surface, including tropical forests and other unique ecosystems vital to the conservation of biodiversity. Despite their respect for nature and a unique sustainable lifestyle, the knowledge and practices of Indigenous Peoples have been discounted and often considered worthless, unscientific, backward or even destructive. 

In recent times, this narrative has been challenged by strong Indigenous environmentalists and defenders who defy violence and discrimination to defend nature. The project 'Fight with the Forest Guardians' works to strengthen young Indigenous climate activists in Thailand and Malaysia in the climate fight.

Operation Dagsværk is a Danish youth movement that collaborates with organisations based in Denmark on projects with local partners. Danish high school students choose an organisation and project to collaborate on, create an information campaign targeted to Danish students who then work for a day and donate their salary to the project.

All information about this project is in Danish.

General operating support

Through this grant, The Christensen Fund supports the general implementation of IWGIA's institutional strategy. The core ambition of the strategy to be achieved by 2025 is that Indigenous Peoples’ rights to land, territories and resources and to self-determined development are promoted, respected and protected.

The grant also includes dedicated funding to a project in Peru for the implementation of the right to self-determination of the Awajún nation through the Awajún Territorial Autonomous Government. 

Integrating Geospatial Analysis to Indigenous Knowledge Systems to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in Indigenous Territories in forest countries

The project's overall goal is to foster Indigenous Peoples’ ownership and cultural appropriateness of geographic and information technology to become a tool to better govern their territories and protect their lands and forests from threats to biodiversity in, initially, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Land use and land use change are at the centre of the climate crisis, by improving land tenure security and strengthening governance, the project seeks to curb the rate of deforestation in Indigenous lands, and thereby contribute to a more stable climate.

The project goal will be achieved by implementing a small grants scheme to support projects designed to boost Indigenous Peoples’ territorial self-governance and autonomy. Funding will be provided for Indigenous capacity building through training tailored in geospatial data collection and in the use of high-resolution imagery in order to monitor sustainable management in Indigenous territories, or alternately, deforestation and forest degradation, by partnering with local-based civil society organizations to provide practical tools and resources to effectively approach territorial governance.

Promoting rights-based climate resilience within Indigenous communities - Tanzania and Thailand

Indigenous communities in Tanzania and Thailand suffer multiple, interrelated, cascading challenges related to the accelerating impacts of climate change on the one hand and hostile national policy frameworks on the other.

The project addresses this by supporting Indigenous-led actions to strengthen climate resilience and disaster preparedness at the community level.

The expected long-term outcome of the project is that targeted Indigenous communities in Tanzania and Thailand - with a combined population of 30,182 - have built rights-based resilience to better cope with climate change and related disasters through their Indigenous-led collective land management, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction, in order to sustain their livelihoods, food security and cultural identity. 

Strengthening Indigenous Women leadership in defense of their rights in Asia and beyond

The objective of this project is that Indigenous women’s organizations and leaders have strengthened their capacities to enable them to actively claim their human rights-based self-determination and governance.

More specifically, the project will build the capacity of Indigenous women across Asia in using international human rights mechanisms, processes and instruments, and support the participation of Indigenous women, at a minimum, in international human rights and climate mechanisms.

This will be achieved through 3 capacity building training workshops for Indigenous Women leaders of 14 countries in Asia on UNDRIP, CEDAW, and CSW; at least 5 Indigenous women supported to engage in the CEDAW and CSW sessions through in-person participation in the sessions and organizing side events; 4-6 Indigenous women supported to participate in relevant UNFCCC meetings including COP27.



IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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