New report highlights threats to indigenous peoples in Borneo


A new report published today by Forest Peoples Programme and partners shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an alarming spike in forest loss in Indonesia and has been used to defend one of the biggest legislative changes in the country’s history – the Omnibus Bill. These sweeping de-regulation laws rollback on already weak protections for the archipelago’s indigenous population and leaves their lands increasingly vulnerable to appropriation.

This is particularly concerning considering investors’ and international financial institutions’ (IFIs) endorsement of mega-projects across Borneo, which now have a greater mandate to arbitrarily annex indigenous lands in the name of ‘public interest’ because of the Omnibus Law.

Recourse is campaigning to ensure IFIs such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank respect the rights of indigenous peoples in their policies. FPP calls on IFIs to:

  • Integrate a requirement to respect international human rights and environmental law in their safeguard and sustainability policies, including the right for indigenous peoples to give or withhold their free prior and informed consent, as well as a requirement for human rights due diligence throughout the project lifecycle. Similarly, institutions should employ policies to help protect human rights defenders from intimidation and criminalisation.
  • Address the human rights and environmental risks associated with the effort to attract private investment in infrastructure through their sustainability policies.
  • Address discrimination as the earliest phase of a project lifecycle and should be closely monitored throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Address the serious lack of data on the distributional impacts of mega-infrastructure projects on indigenous populations, special attention should be paid to those who are excluded from social or political life deliberately, and those experiencing discrimination on multiple grounds – such as gender and ethnicity.
  • Provide public information policies that include full, proactive disclosure of information on how supported projects may affect IPLC, this should be provided in accessible languages and culturally- appropriate formats.