Rights and Livelihoods

The private sector and the development community’s struggles to deliver on commitments to respect land rights and reduce deforestation reveal that existing paradigms around land governance, production, and ownership inhibit inclusive growth and climate action. Yet, governments and donors continue to prioritize top-down approaches to development despite growing evidence that their current models are not enough to deliver sustainable development.

Major land tenure reforms driven by well-organized movements of Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, and local communities are empowering rights-holders in developing countries around the world to exercise more control over rural lands and forests. These groups are also turning their attention from tenure reforms towards capitalizing on new rights in economic and livelihoods terms.

Community-led economic and livelihood approaches have emerged as a “pathway to scale” to quickly respond to urgent human rights, economic, and environmental challenges, driven by the aspirations of local peoples. Yet, as a sector, community-led approaches have languished despite their substantial potential to contribute to sustainability and development goals, and a wealth of experience. Their challenges range from restrictive legislative and policy frameworks and lack of appropriate funding mechanisms to tenuous markets and local capacity constraints.

RRI works with a broad array of actors to advance community-led economic and livelihood approaches, as well as operational and policy guidance to scale up government action and investor support. These efforts have included:

  • Workshops to explore the potential of locally-led economic and livelihood models
  • Facilitation of learning between communities
  • Ongoing research to assess the economic, environmental, and development contributions of community governance of lands
  • National level dialogues between private sector, governments, civil society, and communities to explore and pilot development models that incorporate community production of forest commodities into supply chains.

Key Analyses

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