UNESCO/ 12 January, 2022/ Source/ https://en.unesco.org/
Culture in the voluntary national reviews
Social inclusion is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, which includes Indigenous Peoples. As such, all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and targets are relevant to the empowerment, inclusion and engagement of indigenous peoples. However, there are also six direct references to Indigenous Peoples in the 2030 Agenda, including related to Goal 2 on agricultural output of Indigenous small-scale farmers, and Goal 4 on equal access to education for Indigenous children.
In their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), several Member States highlight their efforts in providing legal protection to Indigenous communities within specialized laws or Constitutions whilst others cite initiatives related to SDG4 (education), such as scholarships and Indigenous curricula in national schools. Several references in VNRs are made to Indigenous People’s relations to land, resources and agricultural production, as well as language protection programmes, whether in relation to education or social inclusion. A final set of policies refer to their economic empowerment, or opportunities for youth and women.
Legal instruments for indigenous rights
India cites explicit mentions to indigenous rights in its Constitution, which relate to prohibiting discrimination whilst Guatemala highlights its Law Against Racial Discrimination for indigenous rights. Mexico’s VNR highlights the constitutional reform for the recognition of Afro-Mexican peoples and Indigenous communities, and the Law for the Safeguarding of the Knowledge, Culture and Identity of Indigenous and Afro-Mexican Peoples and Communities (2021). It also acknowledges the financing of Indigenous schools in musical education and training, as part of its sectorial programme on culture. Both Sweden and Norway mention several efforts for strengthening the rights of indigenous Sami people, the latter also aiming to harmonize such initiatives with the SDGs through standards and ethical guidelines and mentioning the national duty to consult Indigenous Peoples in decision-making processes that affect their rights. Paraguay also mentions the Indigenous Women Articulation programme for the involvement of Indigenous women in public institutions and in national and international organization, to defend the rights of the communities they represent.
Paraguay’s VNR acknowledges how the Constitution grants indigenous groups rights to their land whilst Guatemala cites its Indigenous Rural Women Policy for land and resource access for their social and economic empowerment. India highlights its Recognition of Forest Rights Act for land ownership, access, and resource collection whilst Sweden underscores its International Land and Forest Tenure Facility, which supports the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the management of land, ecosystem services and biodiversity. Furthermore, Norway stresses the importance of Indigenous land and resource knowledge for combatting climate change, such as solidarity, community, and natural adaptation strategies. Australia’s VNR recognizes aboriginal knowledge in land and sea resources, as well as biodiversity, through native title rights recognition and specific Acts for the protection of aboriginal heritage sites.
Inclusion of Indigenous Communities Through Education
Both Nepal and India highlight sectorial programmes for education grants and scholarships for Indigenous groups. As part of its National Plan for Indigenous Peoples, Paraguay cites the establishment of the General Directorate for Indigenous School Education. Costa Rica’s VNR also features educational programmes for the inclusion of new curricula for Indigenous language and culture implemented in more than 60 schools. Furthermore, Viet Nam cites its support to 184 Village Children’s Reading Clubs, in which ethnic minority mothers assist in reading practices, a programme that has significantly contributed to the improvement in reading comprehension of about 5,682 children and has been mainstreamed into the national education system.
Language Protection At the Heart of Indigenous Policies
Algeria mentions their translation of the 2030 Agenda into the Amazigh language so as to involve all citizens in the Sustainable Development Goals. Both Tunisia and Micronesia highlight Indigenous languages as integral and fundamental parts of the identity of the countries, Amazigh for the former and seventeen official indigenous languages in the latter. Moreover, the Russian Federation’s VNR emphasizes a special-purpose fund for the research and study of native languages and culture, and the development of manuals and textbooks on native languages. Meanwhile, Guatemala points to its exercise of mapping the country’s Indigenous languages, as a first step to their official recognition.
Policies for Inclusion : Economic Empowerment, Youth and Gender
The Russian Federation’s VNR mentions support to local production of Indigenous agricultural products like reindeer and Siberian red deer livestock for jobs and revenue (SDG 2), while Bolivia’s Social and Economic Development Plan for 2025 prioritizes small-scale Indigenous farmers to support food security and economy. Moreover, South Africa acknowledges the fundamental role of indigenous knowledge with a benefit-sharing agreement for the commercialization of indigenous medicinal plants. Guyana notes the Hinterland Employment Youth Service venture programme for Indigenous youth entrepreneurship, while Venezuela points out several financial efforts for stimulating handicraft production of Indigenous women. Finally, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s VNR acknowledges the implementation of several plans and programmes for Indigenous inclusion at school, access to health, sanitation, land and resources, financial institutions, and for the defence of their cultural identity.