The way in which indigenous peoples conceive nature is shaped by -and shapestheir culture. Environmental change thus has a direct impact on it. This paper analyzes the relation between development projects, environmental change and indigenous peoples. Its objective is to identify the main socio-cultural aspects affected by environmental change and show that they are not being properly taken into account by the main impact assessment instruments; and why it is important to incorporate them. An analytical review of the main literature on the topic has been carried on in order to define the main concepts concerning this complex topic; including the description and identification of gaps in EIA and SIA as the main environmental assessment instruments. Once defined, they have been applied in the analysis of three development projects: the Inter-oceanic highway in Peru, the Chad- Cameroon pipeline and the Nam Theun 2 dam in Laos. This research found out that cultural factors are actually poorly or not properly included in the EIA/SIA approved for each of the cases; and following the bibliography analyzed, this can be said for mostly all kind of projects concerning indigenous communities. For this, a list of the cultural aspects shared among indigenous populations regarding their relation with the environment is included. This list does not pretend to be exhaustive as it only includes the shared aspects found in the cases; and of course each of its components needs to be adapted to every specific indigenous culture.

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Arsel, Murat
Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Pinelo, María Teresa Colque. (2008, January). DEVELOPMENT, ENVIRONMENT and INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' CULTURE. Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD). Retrieved from