Up to 2.5 billion people live in community arrangements worldwide. They directly manage over 50 percent of the world’s land, including much of the remaining forestland and biodiversity hotspots.
Yet legal recognition of rights lags far behind, with only 10 percent of the world’s lands recognized as owned by Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and Afro-descendants.
Scaling-up efforts to close the gap in rights recognition represents the world’s single greatest opportunity—in terms of land coverage and number of people affected—to advance global climate and development goals. Getting this right is also critical for protecting human rights and women’s rights.
Rights and Resources Initiative’s mission is to support Indigenous Peoples’, local communities’, and Afro-descendants’ struggles against marginalization and for self-determined sustainable development by promoting greater global commitment and action towards policy, market, and legal reforms that secure their rights to own, control, and benefit from natural resources, especially land and forests.
To advance this mission, Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) has three global goals:
Situated within the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, RRI has adopted two targets as global indicators of progress:
Fortunately, there has been significant progress on this front. In 2002, only 40 countries had legal frameworks recognizing communities as forest owners or designated rightsholders. By 2017, at least 54 countries had adopted such laws, establishing new pathways for community forest ownership. Around 150 million hectares of land were recognized for communities in the last 15 years—an area three times the size of Spain.
If just four countries implemented existing laws, the world could double the gains made in the past 15 years, and much more could be achieved if other countries followed their lead, dramatically scaling up tenure security for millions of forest people.