In countries across the region, implementation of land policies remains a challenge, while new policies gut land and forest rights in favor of promoting agriculture and extractive industries.
Regional cooperation among Latin American countries is proving an effective strategy to influence decision makers to fight rollback and promote the realization of rights. RRI focuses on strengthening the collective rights of indigenous, Afro-descendant, and forest communities in the region, while contributing to far-reaching legal reforms.
Since 2012, the Coalition has focused particularly on the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant women, who still face inadequate land tenure policies that typically disregard the importance of women’s access to land and fail to include women in decision-making processes. RRI is actively supporting coordination and information-sharing among women’s groups across the region to better advance their rights within national policy reforms, regional dialogues, and climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Read more about our work in Peru and Colombia below.
Colombia has taken important steps towards recognizing the rights of indigenous and local communities. In 2014, Colombia adopted constitutional decrees recognizing greater autonomy for indigenous communities to manage their education systems, healthcare, and drinking water. The government also established legal mechanisms to secure their ancestral lands. After 50 years of internal conflict, in 2016 the government is finalizing peace agreements that target 20 million hectares of land for distribution to peasant communities.
The Opportunity & How RRI Is Creating Change
RRI supports new policies on rights recognition. RRI Collaborators and other civil society organizations successfully advocated for the inclusion of provisions in Colombia’s new National Development Plan to create a comprehensive public policy on rural women and women’s access to land. Women’s organizations—along with other peasant, indigenous, and Afro-Colombian organizations—are now working with the presidential advisor on gender equity to ensure action is taken on the ground.
Peru’s Indigenous Peoples face the threat of rollback. Nearly 35 percent of Peru’s land is owned or controlled by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Their contributions to sustainable development and climate change mitigation are of particular importance given that Peru has the largest Amazonian rainforest territory after Brazil. According to AIDESEP, Peru has the largest area of unrecognized community forest land in Latin America—20 million hectares. However, the government has focused its efforts on propping up Peru’s struggling economy, including through a series of five sets of laws, known as paquetazos, which accelerate concessions and streamline social and environmental requirements for transferring land to private investors.
The Opportunity & How RRI Is Creating Change
RRI is working to secure land for Indigenous Peoples and local communities. With our support, in 2014 AIDESEP was able to ensure that the national government’s agenda included proposals for the creation of four new reserves for Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation and states of initial contact (IPVIIC), as well as proposals for the re-categorization of five existing Territorial Reserves. In May 2016, three of those Territorial Reserves became Indigenous Reserves, successfully culminating a process that took more than a decade. While the government elected in 2016 does not show interest in prioritizing indigenous concerns, an international consensus regarding the role of territorial security for Indigenous Peoples could pressure the government to stay the course.
New opportunities have arisen due to Peru’s agreements with international donors. Indigenous Peoples’ activism regarding REDD+ and climate change has reactivated donor interest and increased government commitment.These agreements include the World Bank’s Forest Investment Program, still in its pre-implementation phase, which will allocate US$7 million to grant Indigenous Peoples legal title to their ancestral lands. The Peruvian government has also made an agreement with Norway and Germany for the REDD+ carbon market, which may provide a promising platform for strengthening community tenure rights. The RRI Coalition in Peru works to prevent the rollback of land rights by positioning tenure security at the center of these national and international debates.
Latin America Partners
Latin America Affiliated Networks
Latin America Collaborators
- Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad
- Asociación de Comunidades Forestales de Petén (ACOFOP)
- Asociación de Forestaría Comunitaria de Guatemala Ut’z Che’
- Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP)
- Asociación para contribuir a mejorar la Gobernanza de la Tierra, del Agua y de los Recursos Naturales (aGter)
- Association for Environment and Society
- Autoridad Nacional Afrocolombiana (ANAFRO)
- Centro de Estudios Jurídicos e Investigación Social (CEJIS)
- Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario (CEDLA)
- Centro Peruano de Estudios Sociales (CEPES)
- Confederación Campesina del Perú (CCP)
- Confederación de Pueblos Indigenas de Bolivia
- Confederación de Nacionalidades Amazónicas del Perú (CONAP)
- Confederación Nacional Agraria (CNA)
- Consejo Civil Mexicano para la Silvicultura Sostenible (CCMSS)
- Coordinadora de Asociaciones y Comunidades para el Desarrollo Integral de la Región Ch’orti’ (COMUNDICH)
- Coordinadora Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas de Panamá (CONAPIP)
- Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR)
- El Instituto de Investigación y Desarrollo Nitlapan (NITLAPAN)
- Federación Departamental de Mujeres Campesinas de Cundinamarca (Fedemucc)
- Foro Interétnico Solidaridad Choco (FISCH)
- Fundación Maya (Fundamaya)
- Instituto del Bien Común (IBC)
- Instituto Latinoamericano para una Sociedad y un Derecho Alternativos (ILSA)
- Instituto Para el Hombre, Agricultura y Ecología (IPHAE)
- La Confederación Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas de Bolivia
- Liga de Defensa del Medio Ambiente (LIDEMA)
- Mesa de Incidencia Política de las Mujeres Rurales Colombianas
- Proceso Comunidades Negras (PCN)
- Programa de Estudios Rurales y Territoriales, Universidad de San Carlos (PERT-FAUSAC)
- Observatorio de Territorios Étnicos y Campesinos, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
- Organización Nacional de los Pueblos Indígenas de la Amazonia Colombiana (OPIAC)
- Organización Nacional de Mujeres Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú (ONAMIAP)
- Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia (ONIC)
- Resguardo Indígena Arhuaco
- Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA)