Position Paper of PEREMPUAN AMAN for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

‘Leave no one Behind’ must mean that there should not be anyone left behind in the scheme of sustainable development.


The United Nations (UN) had estimated the number of the world’s indigenous peoples to be around 370 millions in number. Approximately 2/3 of their total populations are scattered in Asia. Hence, Asia, as a continent, could be said to be the region that holds the highest level of cultural diversities in the world. Packed with the richness of local wisdom, cultural legacies and their sustainable management system of natural resources, indigenous people are capable to actively contributing to the sustainable developments in their regions. However, Asia’s indigenous peoples are most likely to be marginalized from developmental plans, and their indigenous concepts of developments are continuously destructed. Land, natural resources, and the region of these indigenous peoples were and have been switched and taken over to cater to the “national development” and “conservation” without their consent. 


At the same time, primary and public facilities such as education, healthcare, and livelihood are not properly granted to the indigenous peoples, which later worsen their marginalization level. On the other hand, while Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) proceeds to have a noble vision, indigenous peoples are wiped off of the narrative regardless the fact that 15% of the world’s poor people are indigenous peoples.

Looking into the UN’s Declaration in 2007 in regards to the rights of the indigenous peoples (UNDRIPs), UN and the committed states acknowledge, respect, and protect the rights of the indigenous peoples. The state members then emphasize their commitment to advance the implementation of the rights of the indigenous peoples in both national and global levels through the adoption of the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Also, the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) includes indigenous peoples by firmly adheres to the “leave no one behind” in many targets and indicators.

As progressive as it is, however, indigenous peoples are not encouraged to involve the making process of the SDGs, either in international, regional, or national level. Hence, the 17 goals and indicators that are decided, are not aligned to the interests of the indigenous peoples. Moreover, there are many unclear terms of these 17 goals. At least there are three important missing points from the SDGs, which are the indigenous (women’s) knowledge in agriculture, medicine, and sustainable food system. The second point is the collective rights of indigenous women in technology and innovation. The last point is the indigenous territory whose philosophical viewpoint value flora, fauna, land, and water to be inseparable from each other and in which the management system and authority are in the control of indigenous peoples.

From those 17 goals of the SDGs, we, the indigenous women and peoples comprehend that there are two goals that are potentially aggravating poverty and our impoverishment which are Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (the 9th goal) and Decent work and economy growth (the 8th goal). Leaning from our experience, the discourse of economic growth is the framework and justification for the state to perform extractive industry concessions like timber, large scale of palm oil plantation, mining, conservation, and extensive range of infrastructure development to the heart of the indigenous territories. The extractive industry concessions impacted the loss of our authority over natural resources; water, food, firewoods, and ritual materials, traditional medicines, and textile materials. In the past, we used to get these materials directly from the river, garden, prairie land, field, forest, and sea that are within our indigenous territories. With the industries that are intruding to our boundaries, we have to buy these materials instead of having them unpurchased. We are indeed impoverished.

We encourage the government to strengthen the need to achieve eleven goals of the SDGs by giving a space for us, the indigenous women and indigenous peoples, to participate and to voice our perspective and interests of the SDGs implementation. As these eleven goals are close to our livelihood as indigenous women and indigenous peoples, we believe these goals are potential to actualize the sustainable development. These eleven goals are No Poverty (1), Zero Hunger (2), Good Health and Well Being (3), Quality Education (4), Gender Equality (5), Clean Water and Sanitation (6), Affordable and Clean Energy (7), Reduced Inequalities (10), Climate Action (13), Life Below Water (14), and Life on Land (15).

From our perspective as indigenous women and peoples, these eleven goals could be achieved by acknowledging indigenous territories and the authority and management of those territories that include the land and the sea. By such acknowledgment, we, the indigenous women and peoples will sustainably, could acquire food, clean water, and firewood as the sources of energy. We could also be actively involved in adaptation and mitigation of the climate change within our indigenous territories both on land or sea.

The acknowledgment of indigenous territories would also open space of justice and equality for both daughters and sons of indigenous peoples to access modern education without leaving their cultural values and heritage. We believe education and cultural values and heritage are the main points of indigenous women and indigenous peoples to contribute continuously to eradicate inequalities and poverty.

If the global commitment to eradicate all kinds of poverty and discrimination to achieve the 2030 Agenda is almost fulfilled, then the implementation of the SDGs need to be fully aligned with human rights, social justice, non-discrimination clause, and environmental sustainability. The rights of indigenous women, indigenous peoples, should be effectively included in the national planning by actually involving indigenous women and indigenous peoples. The implementation, monitoring, and review of the SDGs should be assured to complete the “Leaving No One Behind” goal. Only by that, the state could be present among the indigenous women and peoples in an attempt to encourage them to exist in a world that is just, equal, and sustainable.


  • The government to acknowledge the indigenous territories and the authority and management which include the land and the sea by ratifying the Draft Bill of Indigenous Peoples.
  • The party to continually consul using FPIC (Free-Prior-Informed Consent) concept with indigenous women and peoples in every developmental activity that could impact the livelihood of indigenous peoples.
  • The party to acknowledge and to respect at least-but not limited to-indigenous knowledge, collective rights, and territories.
  • The government to involve indigenous peoples to observe the special needs of Indigenous Women during the decision-making process in national level to correspond the 2017 President Regulation No. 59 about the Implementation of Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals
  • To encourage Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) to voice out the interests of the indigenous peoples during the SDGs process in regional level and to consult it back to the indigenous peoples.

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