Opportunities for Advancing Forest Tenure in Asia
Throughout the region, successful policy and legal reforms offer opportunities to facilitate knowledge sharing and dialogue among civil society leaders, government officials and researchers. Progressive reforms in several countries are quickly generating lessons and experiences that can influence global best practices for implementation. Growing regional connectivity has well positioned countries making significant process on tenure and rights to influence their neighbors.
Global Leaders Setting Best Practices
In China, recent government reforms have granted greater decision-making power to members of collectives and enabled households to acquire access, management and exclusion rights to forest plots. In India, the Forest Rights Act of 2006 legally empowers tribal communities to own, manage and protect individual and community forestlands on which they have traditionally resided. These divergent country experiences create ample opportunity to share lessons and leverage change.
Strengthening Human Rights and Corporate Standards
New initiatives are seeking to establish human rights councils in several countries, intensifying scrutiny of human rights abuses in relation to land and resources rights and limiting large-scale private enterprises to areas with clear and secure tenure. RRI is currently developing national and regional standards for the private agribusiness sector and encouraging other sectors to adopt standards that protect local rights, as well.
Growing Civil Society Engagement
Asian civil society movements are gaining official recognition and increasingly acting as key negotiators in policy debates. Community networks and civil society organizations are more interconnected, applying effective communications strategies for greater acceptance of augmented forest and land rights. Indigenous Peoples, women and low-caste groups have begun to realize their voice, and call for the overturning of historical injustices.
Rising Domestic Markets in Emerging Economies
Demand is exploding for timber, extractives, cash crops and other forest products. New opportunities in small-scale enterprises, social responsibility markets, community-led conservation projects and developing ecosystem service markets can bring added benefits to local people and economies. To capitalize on these prospects, governments, communities, civil society and the private sector must actively share knowledge and recognize the value of diverse market actors.
Enhancing Gender Inclusion and Women’s Empowerment
There is a growing body of global evidence that improving women’s rights to natural resources and access to small enterprise markets translates to significant livelihoods improvements for women, families and communities, and more effective conservation. In parallel, the broader international development community has called for further analysis on the nexus between gender and rights-based forest governance in Asia. At the 2011 International Conference on Forest Tenure, Governance and Enterprises in Lombok, Indonesia, a panel of civil society experts sparked broad interest on the implications of forest tenure frameworks for local women.
RRI is capitalizing on this interest by advocating for increased equity and social inclusion. We are building women’s capacity for institutional participation, disseminating knowledge on gender dimensions of forest tenure and working toward mainstreaming gender throughout their work in Asia.