Many of the world’s resources are located on land owned or controlled by indigenous peoples. This means businesses are frequently in close contact with indigenous groups and improving their relationships is becoming increasingly important. Yet many of the world’s indigenous people have suffered abuse, discrimination and marginalization, including at the hands of business. As a result, many indigenous people live in poverty. Their cultures, languages and livelihoods are threatened.
The UN estimates that there are over 370 million indigenous peoples living in over 90 countries. They are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of commercial development and business activities. In some cases, the damage they’ve experienced cannot be undone.
Indigenous people can contribute significant knowledge, helping businesses better understand local operating contexts. When businesses treat indigenous people with understanding and respect, they are also more likely to obtain and maintain their social license to operate. Investors, local communities and other stakeholders now expect them to do this.
Respecting the rights of indigenous people can also help avoid expensive operational risks. Risks could include work stoppages, blockades or lawsuits.
We believe there are opportunities to involve indigenous people in business ventures as owners, suppliers, contractors and employees. This can contribute to the long-term success of projects and help embed business in the local community.