FILAC promotes South-South and Triangular Cooperation for and/or with indigenous peoples

Two manuals for the management of South-South and Triangular Cooperation have been designed in the framework of the Indigenous Cooperation Initiative for development with identity.

With more than 800 peoples, Latin-America is the continent that has the largest indigenous population and heterogeneity on the planet. The region’s indigenous population is estimated at 58.2 million people (2018), which represents about 10% of the regional population (ECLAC and FILAC, 2020).

In this context, the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin-America and the Caribbean (FILAC by its Spanish acronym) is a unique international organization as its decision-making bodies are made up of governments’ and indigenous peoples’ representatives on an equal basis. In more than 30 years of work, FILAC has supported self-development processes of indigenous peoples, communities and organizations in the region (FILAC, 2022a).

In addition, as of 2018, FILAC supports the execution of the Ibero-American Action Plan for the Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, approved in the framework of the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Guatemala. One of the expected results of this plan is that indigenous peoples will increase “relations among them, with States, and with international organizations and cooperation agencies, with emphasis on South-South Cooperation for Development” (FILAC and SEGIB, 2018).

In this context, and for this purpose, FILAC supports the Indigenous Cooperation Initiative (ICI). The recovery of indigenous knowledge; sustainable economic development with identity; the empowerment of indigenous women; the generation of opportunities for indigenous youth; and the strengthening of indigenous self-management, are among the initiative’s main objectives (FILAC, 2022b).

ICI is aimed at indigenous peoples and governments of Latin-American and Caribbean countries that are members of FILAC and it has two complementary implementation mechanisms: funds for development with identity; and South-South Cooperation (SSC) and Triangular Cooperation (TC). In the framework of the latter, “exchanges may be carried out between States, between indigenous peoples and between States and indigenous peoples, and they may include a third triangular partner, which may be FILAC or another member of the community of donors” (FILAC and SEGIB, 2023). For example, governments, with the participation of indigenous peoples, “improve their normative frameworks and their policies and instruments for the protection and implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights (FILAC, 2022b).

In order to put the SSC and TC mechanism into practice, SEGIB recently supported the design of two manuals: one for SSC and TC management and another for the management of specific projects. Both documents have a threefold approach: rights-based, participatory (partners are involved in all stages of the projects; FILAC being a facilitator) and horizontal (partners collaborate and interact on an equal basis) (FILAC and SEGIB, 2023).

These tools will be implemented as of 2024 through the Program Integrated Management of Natural Resources with Indigenous Peoples in Central-America. In this framework, South-South Cooperation experiences will be promoted between Central-American governments and indigenous peoples to improve the conservation processes of indigenous territories and, therefore, of the planet’s biodiversity.

To date, FILAC has been supporting more specific exchanges between indigenous organizations, mainly in the health area; for example, through the promotion of the use of medicinal plants and traditional ancestral medicine to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes mellitus (FILAC, 2023).

A recent study financed by SEGIB and the European Union (EU) states that “SSC and TC for or with indigenous peoples has been essentially absent from the definitions of public policies in the field of cooperation in most of the countries of the Ibero-American community” (Zúñiga, 2022, p. 30). In addition, the author concluded that SSC and TC initiatives for or with indigenous peoples were 1.2% of those registered in Ibero-America for the period between 2000 and 2019). In this context, FILAC’s work on SSC and TC represents a major progress for the region and the rights of this population.

December 2023


Source: ECLAC and FILAC (2020), FILAC (2022a) (2022b) (2023), FILAC and SEGIB (2018) (2023) and Zúñiga (2022).