How We Deliver

Catalyzing Breakthroughs: The SRM

Addressing unforeseen threats and opportunities with the Strategic Response Mechanism

Unforeseen threats to indigenous and community land rights can arise quickly and require rapid action to be countered effectively. Just as rapidly, critical windows of opportunity to secure rights can appear--and if not seized, can easily be lost.

The Strategic Response Mechanism (SRM) is designed to enable timely, flexible responses to these unforeseen opportunities and threats. It complements RRI’s annual planning process by allowing for rapid response to unexpected and time-limited opportunities. Up to US$50,000 can be dispersed to grantees in as quickly as a few weeks, allowing RRI to be effective in shifting political landscapes. 

Since 2008, RRI has used the SRM to influence important legislation concerning land and resource rights, such as supporting civil society efforts to ensure passage of groundbreaking legislation that recognizes community land rights in Liberia. SRM projects have also been used to effectively respond to urgent threats, such as resisting the expansion of an oil palm company’s operations on indigenous lands in the Peruvian Amazon, as well as overturning a judicial ruling that had revoked traditional land rights from forest communities for the development of a superhighway in Nigeria. The SRM has also helped maximize opportunities to influence the private sector toward respecting local communities’ rights to their lands and resources.

Selection Criteria

SRM proposals are evaluated and approved through a simple, expedited process. In order for an activity or project to qualify for SRM support, the activity must meet all five criteria:

  1. Capitalizes on a political window of opportunity, which is typically lost if not leveraged quickly
  2. Supports a critical moment in a social mobilization process
  3. Innovates, exploits higher risk opportunities, and has potential to accelerate impact or develop RRI partnerships
  4. Is a new or newly-expanded activity
  5. Has outcomes dependent on incremental funding and connectivity at the right moment

Search and view all past SRM projects below. 

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Safeguarding Tribal and Forest Dwellers Rights in the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Rules

Date: October 3, 2017 - March 31, 2018

Country: India

Region: Asia

Implementer: Vasundhara

Funding Amount: $25,498

Details:

This SRM addressed the serious threat posed by the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act of 2016 to the land and forest rights of tribals and other forest dwellers. The urgency comes from the fact that the rules for operationalizing the law are in process. The SRM sought to collect evidence on violations of the Forest Rights Act, land rights, and human rights by existing plantations and use this data to carry out advocacy to ensure that the CAF rules incorporate strong safeguards to protect the rights of tribals and forest dwellers including free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). The mobilization and advocacy sought to ensure that CAF rules respect the powers and jurisdiction vested in Gram Sabhas (Village Assemblies) by the Forest Rights Act.

Under the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 and Supreme Court instructions, any agency appropriating forest lands has to pay a substantial sum to compensate for the forest diversion at the Net Present Value of diverted forests. This amount is presently between Rs. 4 and 10 lakhs per hectare (US$5,500-$16,000/ha), depending on the quality of the “diverted” forest and is deposited in a Compensatory Afforestation Fund. Over a decade, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund has accumulated about Rs. 42,000 crores (US$7 Billion). The Supreme Court has allowed release of small amounts from the CAF for the last seven years but has insisted that the government of India enact a new law to unlock the whole fund.

This proposal sought to support the CSOs and grassroots movements in their struggle to ensure that the CAF rules incorporate safeguards including FPIC; protection of rights and powers of Gram Sabhas and right holders vested under FRA; and control of Gram Sabhas over the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds. The window of opportunity was small as the first version of the CAF rules was already drafted—however, timely advocacy by the CSOs with Members of Parliament and with media led to withdrawal of the rules. The SRM successfully held national-level consultations with forest rights groups and drafted a report on CAMPA and CAF rules and policies.

Safeguarding Protected Forests through Mapping and NTFP (non-timber forest product) harvesting and Community Forest Enterprises

Date: October 3, 2017 - March 31, 2018

Country: Indonesia

Region: Asia

Implementer: Yayasan Hutanriau, Indonesia

Funding Amount: $9,900

Details:

The SRM activity, approved in October 2017, strategically responded to the immediate and sustained threat to adat and local communities’ traditional lands and forest, and rich biodiversity posed by the expansion of palm oil in Riau Province on Sumatra within the Bukit Batabuh Forest Reserve. Riau Province is home to over 24 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil plantations and is also the same area that is home to the Sumatran tiger, which is currently listed as critically endangered. In Indonesia, during a period of 15 years (2000-2015) there has been an estimated 55 percent of forest loss within concession areas, and an estimated total loss of more than 6.7 million hectares within and outside of concession areas. This forest-loss has caused adat and local communities to lose their livelihoods and their traditional lands and forests, as well as the wildlife and plant diversity that has been sustained by the primary forests.

The SRM proposed to provide support to the Air Buluh community and the Bukit Betabuh Forest Reserve who have been the custodians of the lush forest—home of the critically endangered tiger—for centuries, to secure their rights to these forests and develop a sustainable community-led forest based enterprise model unique to a protected area. This can set an example of community resistance to government and private sector encroachment on customary land.

RRI support provided the resources for the mapping of the management area with Bukit Betabuh in order to complete the main stage in obtaining the Social Forestry permit from the local administration, while simultaneously developing sustainable crop commodity plans for the jernang that would create an initial border around the community forest land. The proposed activity supported the communities within the Bukit Betabuh Forest Reserve and trained them in the titling processes involved in Social Forestry permits. These activities not only created income-generating activities for the Air Buluh community but allowed them to have rights over their forestlands and help preserve the pristine tiger ecosystem.

Read more: Photo Essay | Protecting the Forests, Protecting Dragon’s Blood

Exposure Visit of Nepali Parliament Members, Policymakers, and Civil Society Leaders to Mexico

Date: October 27, 2016 - May 31, 2018

Country: Nepal

Region: Asia

Implementer: Green Foundation, Nepal

Funding Amount: $44,955

Details:

2,000 FECOFUN and Green Foundation members were elected in Nepal’s first federal elections. These representatives now hold positions such as mayors and deputy mayors in local, state, and federal governments. This SRM activity builds on this momentum to both advocate for a new Forest Rights Law in Nepal as well as facilitate a high-level visit of Nepali parliamentarians, policymakers, and influential civil society leaders to Mexico. These leaders will be instrumental in advocating for a new Forest Rights Law that is inclusive of Community Forest Enterprises, and thus the visit highlighted the positive social, economic, and political gains from Mexico’s rich community forestry experience.

The members of parliament were particularly interested in Community Forestry Enterprises in Mexico and the successes observed there, where nearly 80 percent of forests are ejidos or community forests and as a result, communities generate substantial revenue from the forests, much of which is reinvested into the ejido. The high-level visit added value to existing activities currently being undertaken to pass a new Forest Rights Law in Nepal and garnered support from parliamentarians for the proposed Forest Rights Law. There is an unprecedented opportunity to create a coalition of allies and champions who support community forest rights in this beginning stage.

This exchange visit is innovative as the high-level exchange between Nepal and Mexico represents the first time RRI facilitated a comprehensive attempt to unify various locally elected government officials to learn from the experience in Mexico to create more sustainable, economically viable, and climate friendly policy. There is a complete shift in government structures—and for the first time Nepal will have a federal government and moreover, for the first-time local governments and decision makers will be responsible for creating rights-based forest policies.

Read more: Blog | How can Nepal’s local communities benefit economically from their forests? Mexico’s “ejidos” model could open new doors

Strategic Support for Creating Co-Management Forest Systems with Protected Areas and National Parks

Date: February 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018

Country: Indonesia

Region: Asia

Implementer: Rakata Alam Terbuka Organization (RAKATA)

Funding Amount: $65,004

Details:

RAKATA sought to develop and pilot a viable collaborative framework in four national parks pilot sites. These pilot sites will become the model for upscaling in the 74 national parks and protected areas in Indonesia. There are 33.6 million hectares of protected areas in Indonesia, with almost 5,000 villages located inside or close to them that lack legally recognized rights over their customary lands or forests. RAKATA seeks to work with Parks Authorities, CSOs, Indigenous Peoples and local communities inside parks and protected areas, and local entrepreneurs to create co-management systems through Integrated Site Planning Agreements (IPSAs).

This SRM takes advantage of a small and critical window of opportunity recently opened with a champion of rights based approaches, and built on one of the major outcomes of the RRI supported October 2017 Tenure Conference held in Jakarta (hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Consortium for Agrarian Reform or KSP, and various CSOs). This opportunity to set an example for collective, community led co-management systems in protected areas is time bound and contingent on the favorable policy environment arising out of the Tenure Conference and the tenure of the current Director General.

The objectives will be achieved through: helping the Ministry of Forestry Conservation Unit Directorate (KSDAE) establish model partnerships, co-management systems, and collaborative and collective management procedures; conducting an assessment of existing co-management systems in four priority sites and designing viable and up-scalable models for Integrated Site Planning Agreements (ISPA); conducting trainings, workshops, and e-commerce trainings collaboratively with KSDAE Units, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, local governments, and other groups signing up for Integrated Site Planning Agreements (ISPA); and strengthening/establishing active “Learning Centres” and “Knowledge Management of Culture, Forestry Conservation and Tourism Education Centres” for customary forests and village forests.

Engaging with and Capacity Building of Local Governments in Nepal to support community forestry

Date: April 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018

Country: Nepal

Region: Asia

Implementer: Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal

Funding Amount: $48,812

Details:

As of 2017, Nepal is operating as a federal government and now that local governments are in place, the complex process of reworking laws, regulations, and governance institutions on the local level is getting started. This presents a unique window of opportunity to support local rights-based forest and natural resource governance and influence the future “status quo” of policymaking in Nepal. The biggest opportunity for impact emerges from the remarkable fact that almost 2,000 members of FECOFUN, Nepal’s national community forestry federation—this SRM’s proponent—have been elected into local governments, with many elected as mayors and deputy mayors. These, if organized, can become powerful instruments of changes in favor of community forestry, including for favorable laws and regulations.

The SRM proposes to convene, train, and orient the local government representatives on the community forestry issues to ensure that the interests of community forest user groups (CFUGs) are protected and enhanced in the local government regulations and policies; and work closely with selected local governments to create model community forest laws to empower CFUGs, remove regulatory barriers, and initiate implementation of the model laws within their jurisdiction.

The activity will build capacity of local government representatives (especially those who are members of FECOFUN) to protect and enhance the interest of CFUGs in local government laws and policies. By supporting the creation of a model or template “Community Forest Law,” the proposed activity will directly seek to ensure a favorable regulatory and policy regime for community forestry at local government levels.

Supporting CSO input to the National Land Law Revision in Lao PDR

Date: March 1, 2017 - December 31, 2018

Country: Lao PDR

Region: Asia

Implementer: Village Focus International

Funding Amount: $48,936

Details:

The National Land Law in Lao PDR (Laos) is currently undergoing revision, presenting a brief window of opportunity for Lao civil society and development partners to influence the revision process. The Land Information Working Group (LIWG) identified two periods for policy dialogue and advocacy: from February to June 2018 as the Land Law is being drafted, and from July to September 2018 when it will be under the scrutiny of the Lao National Assembly. The final law is due to be tabled in October 2018. Together with Village Focus International (VFI), members of the LIWG and the LIWG Secretariat are working to seize this political window of opportunity to engage in land-related policy dialogue and advocacy. The main aim of this proposed SRM is to form a Focal Group comprised of civil society organizations (CSOs) and development partners who have been working on responsible investment and community land rights in Laos, to develop a policy brief that can feed into the Land Law revision process.

With support from the SRM, civil society is engaging in land-related policy dialogue and advocacy while the National Land Law is undergoing review. This will be achieved through mobilizing members of various government departments and organizations such as the Ministry for Planning and Investment, the Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment, the Mekong Region Land Group, and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), as part of the Land Sub Sector Working Group (LSSWG); reviewing relevant literature, policies, legal and regulatory frameworks, and initiatives; and producing and disseminating a summary of Turning Land into Capital (TLIC) reports’ key findings. Through this SRM, the LIWG seeks to guarantee the National Assembly is well informed about this topic when deciding on the Land Law in late 2018. The Focal Group ultimately aims to incorporate provisions into the land law that ensure respect for community land rights and sustainable land-based investment.

For reference:

Turning Land into Capital: Assessing a Decade of Policy in Practice

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