Urgency and Opportunity

ADDRESSING GLOBAL HEALTH, CLIMATE, AND BIODIVERSITY CRISES BY SCALING-UP THE RECOGNITION AND PROTECTION OF INDIGENOUS AND COMMUNITY LAND RIGHTS AND LIVELIHOODS

Date: September 15, 2020

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The legal recognition and protection of the land and territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples (IPs), local communities (LCs), and Afro-descendants (ADs) offers one of the most reliable, efficient, and equitable solutions to the pursuit of global climate and biodiversity commitments and the realization of a safer and more resilient world for all.
Backed by a robust body of research showing the transformative socio-ecological impacts of community-based tenure security, new analyses now confirm the global extent of community lands and the tangible opportunities within countries to dramatically accelerate the legal recognition and protection of the customary land and resource rights of communities.

Through locally adapted governance institutions, cultures, and traditional knowledge systems, Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendants, and local communities have, for centuries, stewarded the world’s lands and forests. Yet, their ability to pursue their self-determined development and conservation priorities is threatened more than ever by the
accelerating drive for land and natural resources to restart economic growth, and parallel efforts to set aside more high biodiversity areas and carbon-rich ecosystems. But as evidence shows, securing community-based tenure rights can in fact accelerate global progress towards local, national, and global development goals, whilst ensuring that intact and integrated landscapes, watersheds and coastal biomes are sustainably and equitably managed, used, and protected. More importantly, growing numbers of countries, companies, and investors are realizing that securing the rights of the most
vulnerable yields benefits for all.

Opportunities for such transformative change have never been clearer nor more urgent. Strengthened collaboration between Indigenous and civil society organizations and their allies, governments, the private sector, and the broader international community could unlock urgently needed transformational change. As governments take actions to reboot
their economies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many are rolling back social in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many are rolling back social and environmental protections while simultaneously subsidizing industries and infrastructure that risk undermining the rights and livelihoods of local peoples and the lands and forests they steward—making actions to secure community rights urgent and critical. Securing the rights of local peoples and women in particular, and prioritizing their agency in the pursuit of sustainable development, represents one of the most assured means of
eradicating poverty, strengthening equity, and achieving climate-resilient prosperity.

Key Findings

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