December 1, 2023

Indigenous Peoples advocate and former member of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, Joan Carling, presented in a plenary session on July 19 an overview of “Indigenous Peoples’ Engagements in Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Processes at the Global Level.”
Her talk was part of the Third International Conference on Cordillera Studies (ICCS3) of the University of the Philippines Baguio.
Carling also talked about the facilitation and coordination of IP groups, particularly by the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development.
Drawing from her extensive knowledge and experience from working on indigenous studies both at grassroots and international levels for more than 20 years, Carling discussed challenges and opportunities for inclusion of IPs in the SDGs.
Among the challenges in achieving the SDGs is the lack of policy coherence in relation to the three dimensions of SDGs in addressing systemic barriers to inequality and unsustainable development.
She said the idea that IPs are considered vulnerable should change.
Categorizing IPs “vulnerable” implies that IPs are considered as mere recipients of development aids and not needed in decision-making instead of rights-holders and development actors, said Carling, also a former secretary general of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and 2018 Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Awardee of the UN Environment Programme.
“This gloomy scenario, aggravated by the pandemic requires more concerted and transformative measures by states and development actors to advance the SDGs,” said Carling, who is currently a co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development.
Despite challenges, there are also opportunities for IPs for inclusion in the SDGs. Among these opportunities is collaboration with research and academic institutions to generate data and undertake case studies and researches on the state of affairs of IPs in relation to SDGs.
This is “for evidence-based advocacy and generating greater awareness and attention and action to the concerns of IPs, as well as in supporting our roles and contributions to sustainable development.”
In concluding her presentation, the UP Baguio alumna said “sustainable development for IPs will only be achieved if our rights, perspectives, and aspirations are recognized, respected, and supported, and that we are the central actors to our own development.”
To watch the previous and upcoming sessions, visit,, or – Press release