Secure land rights for Indigenous Peoples and rural communities are a key ingredient in achieving the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals adopted last year. Yet as the continued killings of environmental activists around the world show, strong land tenure faces an uphill battle.
Under international human rights laws, indigenous communities must be able to approve any development project that directly affects their lands or resources. There are a few reasons why this doesn't always happen in practice.
The LandMark mapping platform reveals some of the underlying reasons why community land rights are insecure in many countries around the world. Without legal rights to the lands they call home, Indigenous Peoples and communities are vulnerable to expropriation and "land grabbing" by outsiders.
Berta Cáceres famously fought against the Agua Zarca Dam, which would have obstructed the Gualcarque River, a source of food and water for local communities. Her murder is tragic, senseless and unfortunately, indicative of more systemic governance problems.
Today, more than 300 individuals and organizations launched the Global Call to Action on Indigenous and Community Land Rights. The campaign aims to double the amount of land legally recognized as owned or controlled by Indigenous Peoples and communities by 2020, and eventually, secure lands for all communities and Indigenous Peoples.
Ensuring that indigenous and community land rights are respected and protected is important, not only from a human rights perspective, but also as a sound climate mitigation strategy.
Indigenous peoples and communities manage their forests and other ecosystems well if they have secure rights over their land, but getting legal recognition of these rights is often a challenge. LandMark, a new online platform, can help address this challenge.
Up to 65 percent of the world's land is held by Indigenous Peoples and communities. Yet most of it is unmapped and not formally demarcated, and therefore invisible to the world.
A broad partnership of indigenous coalitions and land rights and research organizations today launched LandMark, the first online, interactive global platform to map lands collectively held and used by Indigenous Peoples and communities. The platform was created to fill a critical gap in indigenous and community rights and make clear that these lands are not vacant, idle or available to outsiders.