Who is the reference group?

Indigenous Peoples and many local communities have important and long-standing connections with their local water bodies. As the impact of climate change deepens, it is increasingly critical to reach these communities, especially as their understanding of water and the environment can offer a more contextualized perspective.

The Group aims to serve as a reference point for indigenous people to mainstream water and land management more effectively in protecting vital ecosystems and their importance for water security and climate change mitigation and adaptation whilst recognizing their aspirations and helping build a platform for better understanding of their relationships to their local waters and the associated obligations thereof.

Relevant organizations whose work is relevant to the Conference that are interested to participate in the UN 2023 Water Conference, but that are not in consultative status with ECOSOC, or that have not been accredited to either the Summit or during the first round of special accreditation, must apply for special accreditation by 2 December 2022. This will be the final round of special accreditation for the UN 2023 Water Conference.

In preparation to the Conference, UN DESAthrough its Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG), organized a second Global Online Stakeholder Consultation to compile views, comments and inputs from stakeholders on the themes proposed by co-hosts for the interactive dialogues of the UN.

More than 700 inputs from stakeholders based in more than 70 countries were received. 

A summary report with key messages and takeaways from the consultation is now available.



6-18 November: United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27)

Heads of State, ministers and negotiators, along with climate activists, mayors, civil society representatives and CEOs will meet in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh for the largest annual gathering on climate action.

14 November: Water Day - (COP27)

Discussions at the Water Day will cover all issues related to sustainable water resource management including water scarcity, drought, cross boundary cooperation and improvement of early warning systems.

22 November: "Application of Indigenous Knowledge in Water Management: Best Practice Models" Online Knowledge Dialogue

The objective of this Knowledge Dialogue is to create and provide an ethical space of respectful dialogue for learning and knowledge-sharing amongst Indigenous peoples from various regions of North America, and to exchange experiences and lessons learned in the context of freshwater management.

30 November: Equator Prize Award Ceremony 2022: Celebrating the local action of ten Indigenous peoples and local communities

The UNDP Equator Initiative will be hosting the Equator Prize 2022 Award Ceremony as part of the final day of the virtual Nature for Life Hub. The ceremony will celebrate the achievements of the ten winners of the Equator Prize 2022. These outstanding Indigenous peoples and local communities won the prestigious Equator Prize for their groundbreaking work advancing nature-based solutions for green economies, climate resilience, and innovative conservation models.

Coming Soon

Past Events

6 June: Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Forum: inclusive approaches to water in ecosystems, land, agriculture, and knowledge development

The Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Forum is a platform for the indigenous peoples to discuss water and land management, as well as the protection of ecosystems. The latter are of vital importance for addressing water security and climate change. At the same time, the platform will recognize the aspirations of Indigenous Peoples and help build a better understanding of their reciprocal relationships to local water.

Organizers: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

24 August: Prioritizing Indigenous Peoples in International and Local Water Policy

Indigenous peoples have a special role in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem stewardship. This is illustrated in Latin America where deforestation rates are significantly lower in indigenous and tribal territories compared to where governments have formally recognized collective land rights. Such territories are incredibly important for freshwater ecosystems and for the flow of water that others are reliant on.

Despite this, the voices of indigenous peoples have largely been absent in international water policy making. This session offers an opportunity to better understand why indigenous knowledge and voices matter to the water community, and for peoples to have their views heard and worldviews being given increased prominence and respect.

Convenors: Aborigen Forum; Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact; Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean; Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

28 September: Annual Panel on Rights of Indigenous Peoples 

Time: 10:00 (CET)

"The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation of indigenous peoples: state of affairs and lessons from ancestral cultures" report prepared by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation will be launched on August 8 and presented at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council in September 2022.

16-19 October: Cairo Water Week

Cairo Water Week 2022 is a preparatory event for the UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh in November that will also support the UN 2023 Water Conference.

This year's theme is ‘Water at the Heart of the Climate Action.’ Water actors and stakeholders from around the world will gather to discuss climate-water challenges.

Details Coming Soon

Details Coming Soon

For more information contact:

Ms. Marianne Kjellén, Senior Water Advisor, UNDP (marianne.kjellen@undp.org)

Mr. Nigel Crawhall – Chief of Section, Local and Indigenous Knowledge, UNESCO (n.crawhall@unesco.org)


Useful resources

Report Covger

Report: Human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation of
indigenous peoples: state of affairs and lessons from ancestral cultures

white wiphala paper on indigenous peoples food systems

Report: The White/Wiphala Paper on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems

UN Indigenous Report

Report: State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: Rights to Lands, Territories and Resources

The state of indigenous peoples and local communities lands and territories

Report: The state of Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ lands and territories


Training Manual: Indigenous Peoples & Integrated Water Resources Management


Report: Making Waves: Community Solutions, Sustainable Oceans

Working with Indigenous People

Report: Working with Indigenous Peoples in Rural Water and Sanitation: Recommendations for an Intercultural Approach

Forest governance by indigenous and tribal people

Report: Forest governance by indigenous and tribal peoples

Small Grants programme 25 years of engagement with indigenous peoples

Report: Small Grants Programme: 25 Years of Engagement with Indigenous Peoples