Governments and corporations are increasingly using legal persecution to portray indigenous activists as criminals and terrorists, putting them at heightened risk of violence, the United Nations said on Monday. Indigenous leaders and campaigners fighting to protect land from development are being stymied and silenced by rising militarization, national security acts and anti-terrorism laws, according to a report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Land conflicts can be fatal for burgeoning agribusiness or other enterprises located in rural regions, but many companies have limited knowledge of how to anticipate and evaluate land-related risk. This is particularly true for land held under collective arrangements by Indigenous peoples or other communities, which is seldom formally documented.
None of these measures can be achieved if forests are not at the heart of land use policies, development strategies, and actions that go far beyond the forest sector. Consequently, there has been an increased emphasis on certain sustainable management practices, especially those that can integrate multiple sectors to evaluate the opportunities of food, water and energy security.
Indigenous and local communities own more than half the world’s land under customary rights. Yet they only have secure legal rights to 10 percent, according to Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Rights and Resources Initiative.
The rapid growth of protected areas from Peru to Indonesia has exacerbated their vulnerability: more than 250,000 people in 15 countries were evicted from such areas from 1990 to 2014, according to RRI.
Could the tide by turning for one of the continent’s trickiest issues – land rights? In Tunisia, President Essebsi has announced plans to submit a draft bill to parliament that would give women the same inheritance rights as men. Wafa Ben-Hassine, a lawyer and human rights advocate welcomed the news. However, she stressed that for real change to occur, the existing laws need to be implemented effectively. Jenna Di Paolo Colley from the US-based campaign group, Rights and Resources says the inability of local, indigenous populations to defend what’s traditionally been theirs is a basic obstacle to development.
The world is turning its eyes toward Colombia as the new president, Iván Duque, takes office. Rights groups and peace activists are calling on the government to ensure that both the peace process and the country’s social leaders are protected.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has released a report highly critical of the global conservation movement and calling for indigenous peoples and other local communities to have a greater say in protecting the world’s forests. Titled Cornered by Protected Areas and co-authored with the US-based NGO Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the report is an explicit condemnation of “fortress conservation.”
Indigenous peoples and local communities conserve lands and forests for a quarter of the cost of public and private investments in protected areas, according to new findings released at the Oslo Tropical Forest Forum last week, yet “fortress conservation” strategies often see indigenous peoples driven from their land in an effort to protect it from human activity.
Throwing weight behind the demands of indigenous peoples and activists, a new research by Washington-based Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) has found that indigenous peoples and local communities are able to achieve equivalent conservation outcomes by investing only a fraction of the total money spent on conservation by all other agencies.
The best way to save forests and curb biodiversity loss is to recognize the claims of indigenous peoples to their territories, a new report urges. Published by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), an international NGO headquartered in Washington, and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous rights, the 28-nation study compares conservation outcomes in lands controlled by indigenous groups against those in government-managed “protection zones.”
The world today is in the grip of an existential crisis in more ways than one. The future of the Blue Planet has never before been clouded with more ominous portents. Yet some of its oldest inhabitants and indigenous peoples perhaps have been the best guardians of its natural resources, and a new report only confirms this. It is the indigenous peoples who have “long stewarded and protected the world’s forests, a crucial bulwark against climate change.”
Despite legal insecurity, local indigenous communities worldwide invest up to 4.5 billion dollars per year in conservation, as much as 23 percent of the amount spent on land and forest conservation by the formal environmental community, said the report.
Millions of indigenous peoples in forested countries, including Indonesia, are continuing to suffer from harsh conservation policies despite having played a crucial role in protecting the environment, a new study has revealed.
Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ lands cover more than half the global land mass, yet governments are not ensuring their rights and protections, according to Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Rights and Resources Initiative.
Along the route from Mumbai’s international airport in Santa Cruz to the high-profile business district of Nariman Point, is a series of billboards featuring a significantly larger-than-life image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcoming investors to the third annual general meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
In recent research that analysed contribution of local communities’ contribution to climate change mitigation by looking at carbon storage in collective lands, it was established that communities that claim and own their collective lands have so far sequestered at least 54,546 million tonnes of carbon equivalent — roughly four times the world’s annual emissions. The study, carried out by Rights and Resources Initiative, Woods Hole Research Centre and World Resources Institute, calls for recognition of the world’s indigenous and local communities in climate stabilisation and carbon sequestration.
A report of the Rights and Resources Initiative (2015) suggests that if the FRA is implemented properly, it could lead to the recognition of the rights of at least 150 million forest-dwelling people over 40 million hectares of forestland in more than 1,70,000 villages.
Recent research by the Rights and Resources Initiative demonstrated that the DRC’s first REDD+ initiatives in Mai-Ndombe province do not adequately respect the rights of local peoples. What is more, they are actually failing to protect their forests.
Civil society organizations and communities affected by oil palm concessions across Liberia have grouped themselves in addressing urgent issues in the oil palm sector, demanding more access to mechanisms that can make concessionaires more accountable in line with laws and regulations.
Pressures from climate change have worsened poverty, food insecurity, human trafficking, and child marriage, activists argue. For a long time, says Ms. Bandiaky-Badji, people have focused on rural and indigenous women “as victims.”
Land rights is emerging as a big issue in the UN’s REDD+ programme to reduce deforestation, with concern focused on a tract of 9.8 million forested hectares in the Mai-Ndombe province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The forests of Mai-Ndombe (“black water” in Lingala) are rich in rare and precious woods (red wood, black wood, blue wood, tola, kambala, lifake, among others). It is also home to about 7,500 bonobos, an endangered primate and the closest cousin to humans of all species, sharing 98 percent of our genes, according to the WWF.
The forests constitute a vital platform providing livelihoods for some 73,000 indigenous individuals, mostly Batwa (Pygmies), who live here alongside the province’s 1.8 million population, many of whom with no secure land rights.
The Niyamgiri case is one of the most infamous industrial projects plagued by land-related conflicts, alongside South Korean company Posco’s abortive steel project in Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha and Tata Motors’ Nano plant in Singur in West Bengal, which was later moved to Sanand in Gujarat.
President Weah has a choice: be “open for business” without recognizing community land rights and risk a backslide into conflict and insecurity or to move towards a new model by prioritizing the land rights of the people who voted him into office and consolidate peace and sustainable development in Liberia.