This report is a product of an extensive collaboration between 20 Indigenous and local community organizations across Asia, and brings together data and stories from communities on the ground to re-position global human rights and conservation discourses at the center of Asia’s unique political realities. It frames conservation beyond being an issue of natural resource management and highlights the question of governance, autonomy, and sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to achieve their self-determined development aspirations.

As the role played by Indigenous Peoples and local communities in safeguarding the planet gains long-due recognition by global climate and conservation initiatives, their representatives and allies have launched a new mechanism to finance locally-led efforts with full respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. 

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC) and the Campaign for Nature (C4N) receive grant from Bezos Earth Fund to jointly scale up the recognition of tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and Afro-descendant Peoples in the Tropical Andes and Congo Basin.

New research shows significance of community-held territories in 24 countries to global climate

At UNFCCC COP 26, new research shows Indigenous Peoples and local communities hold at least 958 million hectares of land in countries spanning most of the world’s endangered tropical forests – yet have legal rights to less than half of their lands. Community-held lands sequester over 250 billion metric tonnes of carbon, and lack of secure rights threatens to release much of this carbon into the atmosphere through deforestation.

Why Indigenous-led conservation is crucial for Canada’s climate goals

To the west of Great Slave Lake, the second-largest lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories, is a plateau that towers 600 meters above the surrounding Mackenzie Valley. The plateau, which features a unique mosaic of boreal forest, wetlands, and lakes, and is home to dozens of at-risk species, including the woodland caribou, wood bison, and waterfowl, is known as the Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area/National Wildlife Area (pronounced eh-day-shae.)

New analysis reveals risks of investment in carbon offsets without community rights

This analysis shows that the vast majority of tropical forested countries seeking to benefit from international forest carbon markets have yet to define in law and in practice the rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and Afro-descendant Peoples over carbon in their customary lands and territories.

Urging WWF to help drive transformation of global conservation: A letter from RRI

Andy White (RRI), Gam Shimray (AIPP), and Samuel Nguiffo (CED Cameroun), send a letter on behalf of the RRI Coalition to Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International. The letter is a follow-up to an RRI meeting with Mr. Lambertini and his team, held on February 6, 2021.

On average, tenure interventions are good for people and the planet

With surging international, national, and sub-national policy attention to land tenure security (LTS) in developing countries in recent years, it is timely to ask: What have been the effects of thousands of efforts to improve it in dozens of developing countries? To date, almost all efforts to answer this question have been relatively small-scale, discrete studies within the boundaries of a single country.

25% of world’s surface can be better protected with rights

The GLF summit presented the first draft of a ‘gold standard’ on rights, which will define the principles of secure and proper rights to be applied by public, private and non-profit actors in the implementation of policies, business and initiatives in global landscape. “We wish to establish that the respect of our rights is non-negotiable,” said Joan Carlin of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development (IPMG), which leads the initiative together with the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).

“The second wave of decolonization” – A conversation with Andy White

The RRI is a global network advocating for the land and forest rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities. As the RRI’s coordinator, Andy White travels the world, meeting with Indigenous and community leaders, governments and civil society organizations to discuss how local communities’ rights to the forest can be advanced. Here, as part of an ongoing review of community rights to forested lands and key conditions for success led by Tropenbos International, he talks about recent progress and challenges and the role that civil society organizations can play to help people claim their rights as a step toward locally-led sustainable development.

The biggest rainforest news stories in 2018
The biggest rainforest news stories in 2018

Recognition of the role local and indigenous communities have in stewarding forests continued to grow in 2018. More reports and studies argued that securing indigenous peoples’ land rights is one of the most cost-effective mechanisms for protecting forests and mitigating climate change. Accordingly, philanthropic attention and dollars shifted toward such efforts, including a pledge by group of 17 philanthropic foundations at the Global Climate Action Summit to support recognition of indigenous peoples’ and traditional communities’ collective land rights and resource management as part of their land-based climate change mitigation programs. A study co-authored by UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) even put a dollar figure on the labor and cash indigenous peoples invest in forest conservation efforts, estimating the annual contributions of such “Forest Guardians” at $1.7 billion.

Approaching the point of no return

As world leaders gather in Poland this week to hold a critical dialogue on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the world’s tropical forests ought to take center stage. The ambitious pledge of the Paris Agreement will be virtually unattainable if the world’s remaining tropical forests are not safeguarded.

To protect the Congolese peatlands, protect local land rights

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.

Where women lead on climate change
Where women lead on climate change

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.”

NGOs fear UN REDD+ scheme to combat deforestation will lead to land grabs
NGOs fear UN REDD+ scheme to combat deforestation will lead to land grabs

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).

In a new study released today, researchers say they have identified significant flaws in ambitious forest preservation projects underway in a densely-forested region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where a decision on future investment by the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) is imminent. The DRC province of Mai-Ndombe has been a testing ground for international climate schemes designed to halt forest destruction while benefiting indigenous and other local peoples who depend on forests for their food and incomes, with US$90 million already dispersed or committed for climate finance in the province.