Why Community Land Rights?
Up to 2.5 billion people live in community arrangements worldwide. They directly manage over 50 percent of the world’s land, including much of the remaining forestland and biodiversity hotspots.
Yet legal recognition of rights lags far behind, with only 10 percent of the world’s lands recognized as owned by Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendants, and local communities.
Scaling-up efforts to close the gap in rights recognition for Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendants, and local communities represents the world’s single greatest opportunity—in terms of land coverage and number of people affected—to advance global climate and development goals. Getting this right is also critical for protecting human rights and women’s rights.
Securing Community Land Rights is Possible
Situated within the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, RRI has adopted targets to:
- Secure at least 50% of lower- and middle-income forest area as owned or designated for use by Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendants, and local communities by 2030; and
- Ensure Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendants, local communities, and women within those groups, have recognized rights to manage, conserve, use, and trade forest products and services in 100 percent of the area under their ownership or designated use by 2030.
Fortunately, there has been significant progress on this front. In 2002, only 40 countries had legal frameworks recognizing communities as forest owners or designated rightsholders. By 2017, at least 54 countries had adopted such laws, establishing new pathways for community forest ownership. Around 150 million hectares of land were recognized for communities in the last 15 years—an area three times the size of Spain.
If just four countries implemented existing laws, the world could double the gains made in the past 15 years, and much more could be achieved if other countries followed their lead, dramatically scaling up tenure security for millions of forest people.