RRI mentions that fewer new laws have been
passed to protect indigenous land rights since 2008 than in the six
preceding years, and the legislation that has been enacted is weaker.
Previous RRI research into 12 emerging
market countries found that at least one out of every three hectares,
licensed for natural resource development, overlaps with indigenous
community land. When private companies acquire land and resources
without first checking who lives there, it further says, they expose
themselves and their investors to substantial risk, as some level of
conflict or business disruption often results.
The ownership of almost half the
developing world’s rural, forest and dry-land areas is contested,
according to RRI, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of over
two billion people. They often have no formal title to the lands on
which they live and depend. So, they can seldom legally defend their
In its report, “Lots of Words, Little
Action,” RRI asks: Will the private sector tip the scales for community
land rights? Examines how land rights and attempts to mitigate climate
change through REDD+ are linked?
One of its findings is that REDD+
initiatives are not yet translating into globally significant increases
in the area under the ownership and control of indigenous peoples and
local communities. Meanwhile, it says, the global forest area covered by
industrial concessions is large and growing.
Global climate change efforts have a key
role to play in securing the land rights of indigenous people and rural
communities, it says. And when they are secured, that means less
deforestation and more climate change mitigation.
Indigenous communities, it is argued, are
unlikely to over-exploit forest resources. Their understanding of the
forests as the place on which they depend encourages them to resist
deforestation and the piecemeal exploitation and destruction of their
fauna and flora.
Indonesia is the third-largest emitter of
greenhouse gases chiefly because of deforestation for palm oil and other
natural resource extraction. One group, the Indigenous Peoples' Alliance
of the Archipelago (AMAN), says: those it represents claim 40 million
hectares of the country’s rainforests. If they are given stronger rights
over their lands, AMAN says, they will help the country to fight
deforestation and reduce climate change.
Wide regional variations
The head of AMAN, Abdon Nababan, urges
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon to formally implement a May 2013
Constitutional Court decision which declared a line in the country’s
1999 Forestry Law as unconstitutional stating that customary forests are
state forest. The Indonesian Government controls 96% of the country's
The RRI report also highlights a number of
• In Latin America, communities own or
control more than 39% of forests, a direct contrast with sub-Saharan
Africa where less than 6% of forests are controlled by communities.
• Of the recorded progress seen in Africa
since 2002, 89% comes from the implementation of Tanzania’s Village Land
Act (1999) and Forest Act (2002).
• Only two African countries in the study
- Liberia and Mozambique - have statutory frameworks that recognize
community ownership of land.
• Governments of the countries of the
Congo Basin, which contains the world's second largest rainforest, claim
legal control of more than 99% of forest land.
• By 2013, all 12 Asian countries surveyed
had implemented some form of community tenure regime, but these laws
affect less than 4% of forestland in seven of the nations.
One of RRI's campaigns seeks to double by
2018 the amount of land recognized worldwide as owned or controlled by
indigenous peoples and local communities. Another effort is focused on
REDD+, which RRI describes as "the world’s leading initiative to support
REDD+ promises to respect the rights of indigenous people and local
communities to protect forests and to sell the carbon they contain as
offsets to polluters seeking to meet emissions targets.
The United Nations is leading the negotiations for new Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) intended to guide economic development and
poverty reduction for the next 15 years. But RRI’s concern is that no
specific target for land rights has yet been set for the SDGs.
Source: Climate News Network