The Land Rights Standard

Principles for best practice for recognizing and respecting Indigenous Peoples’, local communities’ and Afro-Descendant Peoples’ land and resource rights in landscape restoration, management, conservation, climate action, and development projects and programs.

RRI has collaborated with the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) and the Indigenous Peoples Major Group (IPMG) for Sustainable Development 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 shall serve as the “Land Rights Standard” for best practice for recognizing and respecting Indigenous Peoples’, Local Communities’ and Afro-Descendant Peoples’ land and resource rights in landscape restoration, management, conservation, climate action, and development projects and programs.

View the principles along with a list of organizations that have endorsed them:

EnglishSpanish | French | Portuguese | Bahasa Indonesia


Download the Standard’s Adoption and Endorsement Pledge


Why the Land Rights 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-descendant Peoples. 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-descendant Peoples, 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 Land Rights 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-descendant Peoples, 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-descendant Peoples 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 Land Rights Standard as a living document that can be reviewed and updated periodically, as appropriate, by the undersigned indigenous, community and afro-descendent constituencies.

Read a Q&A with Indigenous leader Gam Shimray on the importance of the Land Rights Standard for human rights, biodiversity and our global future.

Endorsing and adapting the Land Rights Standard

Non-state actors, including investors and donors who wish to adopt the Standard to guide their work, should fill out the Land Rights Standard’s Endorsement and Adoption Pledge. This document specifies the voluntary commitments of non-state actors and outlines expectations for rights-holders, their representative organizations, and allied institutions and civil society organizations who endorse the Standard to advance their priorities across landscapes.

Watch: Alain Frechette, Rights, Climate and Conservation Program Director at RRI and Gam Shimray, Secretary-General of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact discuss the launch of the Land Rights Standard. 

What’s next?

The GLF, the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development, and RRI are currently seeking endorsements and commitments on the Land Rights 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 Land Rights Standard’s adoption, endorsement, and implementation.

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

View the Land Rights Standard in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Bahasa Indonesia.

List of Endorsing Organizations:

1 Adibasi Janajati y Dalit Study Center, Nepal
2 African Women’s Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF)
3 AIDA, Colombia
4 AKAR Foundation, Indonesia
5 Alianza Mesoamericana de Pueblos y Bosques (AMPB)
6 Amazon Conservation Team, Colombia
7 Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
8 ASM Law Office, Indonesia
9 Asociación Ambiente y Socieda (AAS)
10 Asociacion Interetnica de desarrollo de la selva peruana (AIDESEP), Peru
11 Bantaya Association, Indonesia
12 CABILDO, Colombia
14 Carmer Kifukieto, Kenya
15 Center for Autonomy and Development of indigenous People (CADPI), Nicaragua
16 Center for Environment and Development (CED)
17 Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Research and Development (CIPRED), Nepal
18 Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
20 Chirapaq, Peru
21 Civic Response
23 Community Land Action Now (CLAN), Kenya
24 CONAQ, Brazil
25 Confederación Campesina del Perú (CCP)
26 Confederación Nacional Agraria (CNA), Peru
27 Congolese Resources Institute, DRC
28 Contemporary Research Center, Nepal
29 Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica (COICA)
31 Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR), Peru
32 Dura Service Society (DSS), Nepal
33 Dynamique des Groupes de Peuples Autochtones (DGPA), DRC
34 Epistema Institute, Indonesia
35 Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN)
36 Green Foundation, Nepal
37 Group de Travail Climat REDD Rénové, DRC
39 HUMA, Indonesia
40 IBC, Peru
41 Indonesia Community Mapping Network (JKPP), Indonesia
42 Indonesian Institute for Forest and Environment (RMI), Indonesia
43 Instituto Sociedade, População e Natureza, Brasil
44 International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI)
45 Jan Chetna Sansthan, India
46 Just Nepal Foundation, Nepal
47 Kerio Valley Community Organization (KVCO), Kenya
48 Landesa
49 LaPPA laboratorio e extensao com povos tradicionais, amererindios e afroamericsnos (CERES-IFCH)
50 LiVE, Indonesia
51 Mountain Spirit, Nepal
52 Nareto Latia Indigenous Peoples’ Program, Kenya
53 National Commission of Indigenous Territories (CNTI), Colombia
54 National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC)
55 Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, Nepal
56 NTFP-EP, Indonesia
57 Nucleo Afro do CEBRAP, Brazil
58 Ofraneh, Honduras
59 OPIAC, Colombia
60 Organización Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú (ONAMIAP)
61 PEREMPUAN AMAN, Indonesia
62 Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN)
63 Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC)
64 Rights and Rice Foundation (RRF), Liberia
65 Sajogyo Institute, Indonesia
66 SIF, Madagascar
67 Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development (SESDev), Liberia
68 The Ancestral Domain Registration Agency (BRWA), Indonesia
69 The Continental Network of Indigenous Women (ECMIA)
70 TuK, Indonesia
71 Walestra, Indonesia
72 Wumweri Ghodu CBO, Kenya
73 Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat, Indonesia