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 11 percent of the world’s lands recognized as owned by Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, and local communities.
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.
RRI’s mission is to support Indigenous Peoples’, Afro-descendant Peoples’, and local communities’ struggles against marginalization and for sustainable, self-determined development. It does so 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, we have set 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. Between 2015 and 2020, RRI found that Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, and local communities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America gained legal recognition to over 100 Mha of additional lands. They now own more than 11% of the world’s land.
This progress is a direct result of to unflinching advocacy and engagement by communities’ organizations and their civil society allies. However, we still see huge unrealized potential to scale up legal reforms as well as implementation. Our research shows that implementing existing legal frameworks could increase the total area legally owned by or designated for communities by over 260 Mha in 19 countries. This suggests that further investment should target promoting and scaling up implementation of existing laws to achieve greater equity in rights and sustainable development.