Indigenous peoples | WWF
© Troy Fleece/WWF

Indigenous Peoples

Partnerships for conservation

Indigenous peoples and local communities are among the Earth’s most important stewards of natural resources and are critical to WWF’s mission to build a future where human needs are met in harmony with nature.

Indigenous peoples and local communities have made enormous contributions to the maintenance of some of the Earth’s most fragile ecosystems. Today they are challenged by many of the same forces that threaten nature, such as pressures from extractive industries and infrastructure development. Climate change and other global trends are likely to accelerate the loss of the natural habitats and resources upon which indigenous people depend.

What we do

WWF collaborates with indigenous peoples and local communities on activities such as conservation area management, sustainable use of natural resources, and influencing relevant policy and decision-making. These partnerships depend on an understanding of the links between people and their environment, appreciation of people’s contributions to biodiversity conservation over time, their traditional knowledge and recognition of their rights and interests.

We work to support indigenous and traditional peoples to sustainably manage their resources, and to maintain, use, and strengthen their traditional ecological knowledge. In doing so, we fully respect the peoples' human and development rights, and recognize the importance of the conservation of their cultures.

We work with local and international partners on the ground, such as CARE International, to identify a holistic approach toward improving the rights and recognition of indigenous communities and strengthen our collective impact. A rights-based approach to conservation is essential to ensure a future where people and nature thrive together.

Read more:

► FORMADAT: Peoples in the Heart of Borneo, Indonesia

► Áreas naturales protegidas y participación local, Peru

► Sacred Land, Sacred People: the Himalayas

► Respect rights and improve livelihoods, WWF US

For further reference on the rights-based approach to conservation see Forest Peoples Programme.

The Principles

A rural family, living high up in the Andes, farming with both sheeps and llamas, Patawasi, Peru. © WWF
WWF was the first international conservation organization to formally adopt a policy recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples.

Developed in 1996 and updated in 2008, WWF’s Statement of Principles on Indigenous Peoples and Conservation reflects our dedication to respecting indigenous peoples’ human and development rights and recognizes the importance of conserving their cultures.

WWF also worked with the International Union for the Conservation of nature (IUCN) in 2000 to develop Principles and Guidelines on Indigenous and Traditional Peoples and Protected Areas.