Setting a “Gold Standard”

Principles for best practice for recognizing and respecting Indigenous Peoples,’ Local Communities’ and Afro-Descendants’ land and resource rights in landscape restoration, management, conservation, climate action, and development projects and programs

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), the Indigenous Peoples Major Group (IPMG) for Sustainable Development, and RRI are collaborating to produce a simple set of principles that applies existing international legal requirements and best practice standards to guide all landscape-level actions and investments supported by civil society organizations and institutions, companies and investors – whether local, national or international.

These emerging principles – currently a draft in progress – shall serve as the “Gold Standard” for best practice for recognizing and respecting Indigenous Peoples’, Local Communities’ and Afro-Descendants’ land and resource rights in landscape restoration, management, conservation, climate action, and development projects and programs. Click here to see the draft principles

Why the Gold Standard?

There is growing interest and action to restore and conserve the world’s forests, landscapes and natural resources, as well as growing recognition that this must be done in a manner that recognizes and respects the land, territorial and resource rights of Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities and Afro-descendants. A wide range of social and environmental frameworks, standards, and certification systems have been developed, with many organizations setting up their own systems and commitments.

While this is encouraging, efforts to date have largely been uncoordinated, and lack a common set of globally recognized principles, grounded in international human rights law and developed in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities, Afro-descendants, and women within these groups. This creates the risk of confusion and potential weakening of aspirational goals that can trigger a race to the top.

The goals of the emerging Gold Standard principles are to:

  • Strengthen respect, recognition and protection of the distinct and differentiated rights of Indigenous Peoples as affirmed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the rights of Local Communities and Afro-descendants, including the equal roles and rights of women within those peoples and communities;
  • Encourage all organizations to improve their own standards, certification systems and commitments for rights-based approaches to sustainable landscapes;
  • Help deliver on global goals and commitments, including the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the post-2020 global biodiversity framework;
  • Pave the way for a more sustainable, equitable, and just future for all by strengthening partnerships with Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities, and Afro-descendants via the adoption of rights-based approaches to landscape restoration, conservation, and sustainable land and resource use; and
  • Support rights-holder ownership of the principles, treating the Gold Standard as a living document that can be reviewed and updated periodically, as appropriate, by the undersigned indigenous, community and afro-descendent constituencies.

What’s next?

The GLF, the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development, and RRI are currently seeking endorsements and commitments on the draft Gold Standard principles from climate, conservation and development institutions, organizations, private companies and investors. They are also working to ensure ongoing discussions of the principles as a standing agenda item in key conservation and climate arenas and other events as appropriate, as well as inclusion of annual updates on the status of the Gold Standard’s adoption, endorsement, and implementation.

For more information on the status of consultations, contact Alain Frechette.