The Right Energy Partnership with Indigenous Peoples


While representing only 5% of the global population, indigenous peoples make up a staggering one third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people. Given that the rural poor form the bulk of those without access to energy, indigenous people are a critical demographic that needs to be put at the centre of the global dialogue on energy if SDG 7 on ensuring access to 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 disaggregated data on indigenous peoples’ access to. Major reports from initiatives aligned with SDG 7 either don’t mention, or only superficially refer to, indigenous peoples and fail to examine their unique challenges as a distinct group.

At the same time, indigenous territories host renewable energy projects without the respect for the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and resources, and lack of meaningful consultation and consent by indigenous peoples. These projects have resulted in conflicts, displacements, destruction of livelihoods, and have violated indigenous peoples’ rights and undermined their self-determined development.

To avoid this, activities to implement SDG 7 and promote renewable energy under the Paris Agreement and other initiatives, should adhere to existing international human rights laws and norms relating to indigenous peoples. The two main international instruments that explicitly define indigenous peoples’ rights under international law, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the ILO Convention No. 169, should guide sustainable energy related activities.


SDG 17 “recognizes multi-stakeholder partnerships as important vehicles for mobilising and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, particularly developing countries”.

There are a number of existing national and international energy-focused partnerships centered on the SDG 7, including the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) partnership. With the exception of the “People-Centered Accelerator” of SE4ALL, very recently launched at the UNFCCC COP23 in November 2017, the majority of these partnerships appear to be multi-lateral and government led with a strong emphasis on partnerships with the private sector. There is rarely much attention on active and substantive partnerships with local civil society and almost no mention of indigenous peoples.


Given these unique and significant challenges, the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group on the SDGs is developing the multi-stakeholder Right Energy Partnership (REP) with indigenous peoples  

The goals of the Partnership will be to:

  • Ensure that renewable energy projects are fully aligned with the respect and protection of human rights; and
  • Provide at least 50 million indigenous peoples access to renewable energy by 2030 that is developed and managed in ways that are consistent with their self-determined needs and development aspirations.

This will be done through:

  1. Ensuring the protection of rights to prevent the adverse impacts of renewable energy development on indigenous communities
  2. Empowering indigenous communities in their self-determined sustainable development, specifically with regards to access to appropriate renewable energy with equitable community benefits; and
  3. Strengthening knowledge exchange, solidarity and collaboration between indigenous peoples and other actors to contribute towards the goals of the Partnership.


The Partnership and all participating partners must adhere to the following principles and values:

  • Respect and uphold human rights, including uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the collective rights of indigenous peoples and the right of indigenous people to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
  • Equitable benefit sharing and the promotion of equity. This includes a focus on actions that support the poor and not only wealthier community members who are better placed to participate and benefit from actions. Activities supported by the Partnership shouldn’t create wealth and power gaps in the community and ensure that those further left behind are clearly targeted to include indigenous persons with disabilities, the elderly, and young people, among others
  • Full inclusion and empowerment of indigenous women. This is a core objective of the Partnership and activities must have a strong gender focus to ensure the perspectives, concerns and aspirations of indigenous women are accounted for and they become key actors and beneficiaries.
  • Respect and promotion of self-determined sustainable development. Activities will be focused on ensuring broad gains in self-determined sustainable development and livelihood that is culturally sensitive. This includes the holistic approach of indigenous peoples in addressing poverty, food insecurity and the overall wellbeing of indigenous peoples in the achievement of inter-related goals for sustainable development.
  • Full participation and empowerment of indigenous communities. The Partnership will prioritise participatory approaches with a focus on community-led and -centred renewable energy and ensure that the poorest and most marginalized members of the community are included, such as persons with disabilities, elderly and young people, among others.
  • Uphold indigenous leadership of the Partnership as a critical principle. By putting the target beneficiaries in the centre of designing and leading in solutions, there is a much higher chance of the Partnership being effective in reaching its goals. Furthermore, the traditional knowledge and innovation of indigenous peoples on the ground must be recognised and promoted in the implementation of SDG 7 and the Paris Agreement.
  • Transparency, accountability and mutual respect must be the cornerstone of a partnership between indigenous peoples and other stakeholders to ensure that the Partnership can engender trust and positive, generative working relationships between different stakeholders. Additionally, indigenous stakeholders must uphold principles of transparency and accountability to build trust in the Partnership’s activities.

Download the membership form here > REP IP Membership Form

Download > REP Brief English

Download > REP Brief Spanish