GCF ensures Indigenous Peoples play a key role in climate action

  • Article type Press release
  • Publication date 09 Aug 2020

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) celebrates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August.

As fears rise over climate change melting glaciers around the world, the Kalash Indigenous Peoples in northern Pakistan are drawing on traditional knowledge to grow their own.

The art of growing, or “grafting” glaciers, requires transporting portions of existing glaciers to a selected mountainous area, and then covering the site with mud, ash and charcoal before closing it off with stones. While glacier grafting is not expected to significantly dent the tide of global glacial loss, it can act as an effective adaptive measure against climate change by improving the future supplies of water to nearby Pakistani villages.

A GCF project in northern Pakistan to reduce the risk of flooding from melting glaciers, now threatening over 7 million people, is incorporating the traditional knowledge inherent in this long, established practice as part of a suite of adaptive measures.

Indigenous Peoples act as key stakeholders in many of the GCF-funded climate projects covering over 100 developing countries. Their participation is designed to ensure their important place in society is not further marginalised, and to tap fonts of wisdom in nature conservancy inherent in their knowledge systems.

In Colombia, GCF financing has supported the organization – by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) – of the country’s first indigenous national forum on climate change. ONIC, through the Autonomous Indigenous Intercultural University, is also spearheading the development of a training programme on climate change adaptation for Zenú people. 

This is intended to ensure Indigenous Peoples have a key role in a GCF project which is improving the climate resilience of vulnerable communities in the northern Colombian wetland region of La Mojana.

GCF’s attitude towards Indigenous Peoples is based on a special policy that recognises they often have identities and aspirations that are different from mainstream groups in national societies. This discrepancy can lead to them being disadvantaged by traditional models of development.

GCF’s Indigenous Peoples Policy ensures that decision making to advance climate action in GCF projects recognises their unique place in society. It is part of broader organisational safeguards that prevent GCF’s climate finance from damaging local communities or ecosystems and that strengthen contributions from Indigenous Peoples.

While the safeguards are designed to ensure no harm is done, there are plenty of examples where GCF funding is actively enhancing the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and their ability to deal with climate change.

For instance, you can learn how GCF is supporting Ecuador’s Shuar Indigenous Peoples, who live in the Amazon, strengthen their roles as nature custodians in this article and in this video. GCF will continue to safeguard the role of Indigenous Peoples in its support of climate action. 


While GCF celebrates International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on 9 August, it mourns the loss of one of its own champions of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Senior Environment and Social Specialist and Environment and Social Safeguards, Gender and Indigenous Peoples Manager, Leonardo Paat Jr., who pioneered the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in GCF’s climate finance policies, passed away recently. He is dearly missed.