Who Owns the Land in Asia?

Formal recognition of community-based land rights in Asia

Author: Rights and Resources Initiative

Date: November 17, 2015

This brief summarizes findings on community ownership and control of lands in 15 countries in Asia. These countries were included in RRI’s global baseline of formally recognized indigenous and community land rights.

  • Key Findings
  • Related Materials

Key Findings

  • Only 26 percent of land in Asia is owned or controlled by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, compared with 18 percent globally; Asia leads both Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa in community-based tenure recognition.
  • China dominates the results, contributing 87 percent of land owned or controlled by communities in the region.
  • Without China’s contribution, Asia falls behind both Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Six percent of land in the remaining 14 Asian countries is controlled by local communities and Indigenous Peoples, and less than half a percent is owned by them.
  • In more than half of the Asian countries studied, Indigenous Peoples and local communities own or control less than 1 percent of the country’s land area.


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