19 January, 2020

DOING IT RIGHT! Sustainable Energy and Indigenous Peoples

Print Email
A briefing paper by the Indigenous Peoples Major Group, with contributions from the Danish Institute for Human Rights.
February 2018
Introduction: Access I to energy for all - at what price?
According to the OECD and the IEA 14% of the world’s population currently has no access to electricity. 84% of these people live in rural areas. Indigenous peoples comprise 15% of the world’s extreme poor, while representing only 5% of the global population – and make up a staggering one third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people (IFAD 2018). Indigenous peoples are therefore a critical demographic that needs to be put at the centre of the global dialogue on energy if SDG 7 on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is to be achieved.
Despite this fact, indigenous peoples suffer invisibility when it comes to our understanding of energy access. There is little consistent and comparable disaggregated data available to provide a clear global picture of indigenous peoples’ access to energy in contrast to non-indigenous populations. Even major reports from key initiatives aligned with SDG 7 [1] either don’t mention, or only superficially refer to, indigenous peoples and fail to examine their unique challenges as a distinct group with regards to energy access.
At the same time, indigenous territories host big renewable energy projects and other “clean energy” such as large hydro dams, wind mill farms andgeothermal plants without meaningful consultations with and consent by indigenous peoples who have prior rights to their lands and resources. These projects have resulted in conflicts, displacements, destruction of livelihoods, and have violated indigenous peoples’ rights and undermined their self-determined development. Furthermore, often the main objectives of many of these projects are to supply energy for industrial activity, urban areas and other infrastructure projects for profit, rather than to provide energy for indigenous peoples and marginalised