This 2018 was a worrying year for all those who want a stable, prosperous and healthy planet. Scientists reiterated to us how urgent efforts are to mitigate climate change.
We also observe how Brazil became part of the growing number of countries led by ultra-nationalist and xenophobic leaders. And after 2017 had been the deadliest year on record for land and environmental defenders, this year we witnessed even higher levels of acts of criminalization, violence and persecution targeting indigenous peoples, local communities and their defenders.
Although there is no silver bullet for solving these problems, I remain optimistic that we can collectively seek ways to address the inequality, political and economic instability, and climate shocks that give rise to these kinds of situations. And now a growing number of experts and leaders from various sectors and countries recognize that the world can begin to meet these challenges simply by securing the land rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and rural women.
Security of tenure alone will not solve all of our problems, but will support the efforts of indigenous peoples, local communities and rural women who are threatened by climate change, increasing energy needs and the economies they use. Many resources to secure their rights to land and resources would represent an essential first step in establishing a more sustainable and resilient future for all.
Below are links to see the views of various RRI Coalition experts on four challenges we will face together, and how stronger protections for indigenous and community land rights can make all the difference.
1. Conflict resolution over land can stem the wave of violence and criminalization against environmental and land rights defenders
Globally, environmental and land defenders face acts of violence, criminalization and persecution for fighting for the rights of their communities. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, explains how this criminalization also targeted her in her home country, the Philippines, and how her case is representative of the crackdown and the repression faced by defenders of the rights of indigenous peoples. For her part, Omaira Bolaños, from RRI, pointed out in an opinion article published in theNew York Times that if Colombia's leaders truly want to end the wave of violence against indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, they must recognize that "the roots of lasting peace are intertwined with the land."
2. Guaranteeing the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and rural women to land is a largely untapped solution
Although one of the crucial actions to mitigate climate change is to stop deforestation, various governments and companies are having difficulty meeting their own commitments in this regard. An analysis conducted in 2018 revealed that indigenous peoples and local communities manage nearly 300 billion metric tons of carbon on their forest lands, which is 33 times the total energy emissions of 2017 and five times the amount previously thought. RRI's Bryson Ogden explained why enforcing community land rights is an essential element of climate solutions and how the private sector can play to secure land rights by promoting climate commitments.
3. Women are being victorious in local elections and this could be the key to carry out agrarian reforms
All over the world, record numbers of women are running for public office, both locally and nationally, and are winning. Andy White wrote that women in local public office could represent greater hope to protect the rights of indigenous and rural women and ultimately to advance the agrarian reforms needed to reduce poverty, stop afforestation and promote peace. .
4. Guaranteeing the rights of communities to land combats food insecurity
At least 800 million people around the world suffer from malnutrition. As climate shocks and social instability threaten to worsen food insecurity, Fany Kuiru and Paul de Wit explain how the recognition of the rights of small indigenous and rural landowners - especially women - is essential to ensure the establishing a world food system that is more resilient, sustainable and diverse.
By Alain Frechette, Director of Strategic Analysis and Global Engagement, RRI