Indigenous Peoples
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Learn about the #Garifuna people, a nation within nations, from President Egbert Higinio & Ambassador Cynthia Ellis!

"The world needs to be honest in respecting Indigenous Peoples' knowledge. Look to Indigenous Peoples, how they produce their food." #WeAreIndigenous

— FAO Indigenous Peoples (@FAOIndigenous) December 15, 2022 " style="top:{top}">

Who are Indigenous Peoples?

Diversity between regions and countries, and differences in backgrounds, cultures, history, and conditions have proved extremely difficult for the development of one single definition, at an international level, applicable to all Indigenous communities. In accordance with international consensus, FAO abides by the following criteria when considering Indigenous Peoples:

  • Priority in time, with respect to occupation and use of a specific territory;
  • The voluntary perpetuation of cultural distinctiveness, which may include aspects of language, social organization, religion, and spiritual values, modes of production, laws, and institutions;
  • Self-identification, as well as recognition by other groups, or by State authorities, as a distinct collectivity; and
  • An experience of subjugation, marginalization, dispossession, exclusion or discrimination, whether or not these conditions persist.


There are 476 million Indigenous Peoples in the seven socio-cultural regions of the world, in 90 countries, belonging to more than 5,000 different groups.

Asia has the largest concentration of Indigenous Peoples with 70.5 %, followed by Africa with 16.3 %, and Latin America with 11.5 %. In Canada and the United States of America, Indigenous Peoples represent 6.7 % of the total population.

Indigenous Peoples make up 6.2% of the global population with the majority living in middle-income countries.

Indigenous Peoples represent more than 19% of the extreme poor.

Indigenous Peoples' territories encompass 28% of the surface of the globe and contain 11 %of the world’s forests.

Indigenous Peoples are guardians to almost 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity.

Indigenous Peoples’ food systems have high levels of self-sufficiency ranging from 50 % to 80% in food and resources generation.

Available in English

FAO and the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, 2022

This review, for the first time to date, analyses the potential of labelling and certification schemes for Indigenous Peoples to market their food products. Specifically, it looks at those schemes that are designed by, with and for Indigenous Peoples, and that can provide economic, social and environmental benefits while protecting and promoting their unique values centered around the respect of life and Mother Earth.

Available in English

Indigenous Peoples’ food systems: Insights on sustainability and resilience from the front line of climate change

FAO, The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, 2021

This publication provides an overview of the common and unique sustainability elements of Indigenous Peoples' food systems, in terms of natural resource management, access to the market, diet diversity, indigenous peoples’ governance systems, and links to traditional knowledge and indigenous languages. While enhancing the learning on Indigenous Peoples food systems, it will raise awareness on the need to enhance the protection of Indigenous Peoples' food systems as a source of livelihood for the 476 million indigenous inhabitants in the world, while contributing to the Zero Hunger Goal. 

Available in English, Spanish

FAO, 2021

This White/Wiphala paper on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems is the result of collective work by Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and experts, scientists, researchers, and UN staff. Over 47 different units, organizations, and institutions have contributed to the Paper from the seven socio-cultural regions. This final version of the White/Wiphala paper has been coordinated by the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems and edited by a Technical Editorial Committee, and summarises the main points received.

Available in English and Spanish

Territorial management in Indigenous matrifocal societies

FAO and IWGIA, 2020

In recent years, the interests on the social world and the physical world of Indigenous Peoples have been on the increase, resulting in a gradual growth of literature on Indigenous Peoples of the world. Such works have provided an understanding on the situation of Indigenous Peoples. However, more studies are required on documenting Indigenous Peoples' knowledge and practices.

The current work was taken up as part of the appreciative inquiry and effort to contribute towards the body of knowledge on Indigenous Peoples’ social world and their landscape. In this regard FAO in collaboration with IGWIA and other partners studied four cases of matrilineal and matrilocal indigenous societies: Khasi, Wayuu, Mosso and Shipibo-Conibo people.

FAO, 2010

The “FAO Policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples” has been formulated so as to ensure that FAO will make all due efforts to respect, include and promote Indigenous Peoples issues in its work. In doing so, FAO joins the international community’s increasing mobilization in favour of the rights and concerns of Indigenous Peoples.