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Indigenous peoples’ rights in NDCs: Initial observations from Asia

Blog | Mon, 25 Apr, 2022 · 7 min read

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) form the backbone of the Paris Agreement; they are the detailed, time-bound commitments that countries will take to address the climate crisis. The forest and land use sector can provide up to one third of the emissions reductions needed to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, thus the importance of increasing the ambition of NDCs in many tropical forested countries.  

The critical importance of forests in responding to the global climate crisis is underscored by the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use and the IPCC’s most recent mitigation report, both of which reaffirm the need for swift forest action and strengthened political commitment to end global deforestation by 2030.

Forests are also central to the traditions, cultures and livelihoods of some 70 million indigenous peoples worldwide. Efforts to ensure the inclusion of indigenous knowledge in climate mitigation and adaptation measures and to strengthen indigenous peoples’ participation in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been boosted by the establishment of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform

At COP26, leaders affirmed the critical role of indigenous peoples in protecting and sustainably managing the world's lands and forests, as well as the importance of securing their land and resource rights.

Forthcoming analysis, undertaken by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) over the past two years, will investigate the rights, roles and contributions of indigenous peoples in the NDCs of ten countries in Asia including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. This analysis is being supported by UNDP, the UN-REDD Programme, the Development Cooperation Section of the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) through Swedbio at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Using a gender and social inclusion approach, the analysis considers whether the NDCs of each country include specific reference to rights holders such as indigenous peoples, including those more marginalized, such as indigenous women, youth and those with disabilities. It also considers whether the NDCs explicitly recognize indigenous peoples’ rights, including customary land and resource tenure rights, and the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC), as well as looking at whether and how NDCs promote or reference traditional knowledge, indigenous peoples’ participation and capacity building.

Finally, each country analysis highlights a series of ways that indigenous women, men, youth and persons with disabilities contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement: by protecting forests and biodiversity; protecting and restoring customary rules, practices, and traditional livelihood activities; maintaining and transferring their knowledge and wisdom on adapting to harsh climatic conditions; and, providing inspiring examples of food system resilience.

This analytical work sets a baseline against which progress can be measured and encourages national participatory dialogue to enhance the inclusiveness of NDCs as they are further developed and implemented. The findings of the analysis can also serve as a lever for participatory policy engagement, enabling recognition of indigenous solutions to climate change and more systematic engagement of indigenous peoples’ networks and civil society in the review and enhancement of NDCs during 2022 and beyond. It represents a timely opportunity to foster a socially inclusive, gender-responsive, human rights-based approach to national climate actions under the UNFCCC.

We hope this analytical work serves as a model for other climate processes and can inspire similar analyses in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world. It will be shared through the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform to showcase issues, opportunities and approaches relating to the inclusion of the rights and knowledge of indigenous women, men, youth and persons with disabilities in national policy pledges and processes. The regional synthesis report, and ten accompanying country analyses, will be launched at a side event at the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference in June this year.



  • Lakpa Nuri Sherpa, Environment Programme Coordinator, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
  • Celina Yong, Regional Technical Advisor & Stakeholder Engagement Specialist, Climate & Forests Programme, UNDP
  • Oda Almas Smith, Policy Advisor, Responsible Finance Programme