Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities are the historic owners and guardians of most of the world’s land and forests, and they are now on the front lines trying to save and protect them. Tragically, the world has failed to recognize their rights and their forest governance. Now they, and their forests, are under tremendous threat from government-sponsored roads, mining, and industrial agriculture.

Despite progress in some countries, the rate of land-grabbing, and the murders of local activists continues to increase. Indigenous and community leaders who attempt to stop deforestation and water pollution are increasingly criminalized. Despite many efforts to assist indigenous and local communities, the Tenure Facility is the first and only international mechanism whose focus is to support these groups in their struggle to get their land and forest land rights recognized on maps, in laws, and in the plans and operations of governments and private investors everywhere.

The organizations representing Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities, and their allies are the right organizations to lead the changes that are required to turn this trend around. This is not only because they know the problems and potential solutions, and have been protecting the land for generations, but also – and in many ways more importantly – because these are their lands. Governments and other international actors cannot uphold their citizen and human rights without respecting their rights to these lands and forests. Unfortunately, most government and development assistance treats local peoples as passive beneficiaries of others’ projects rather than as leaders of their own transformation. The Tenure Facility acknowledges and celebrates their leadership and supports their initiatives.

Our forests and our climate suffer when we do not respect and support local peoples, but so does our moral standing as a global society. We are all stronger when we treat the most marginal as equal citizens with equal rights to pursue their own dreams on their own lands.

The Tenure Facility supports stakeholders in two key ways:

1. Scaling up implementation of land and forest tenure reform policies and legislation by:

  • Providing support to establish legitimate tenure rights in areas where traditional communal rights are not formally recognized
  • Providing support for community mapping, demarcation, and registration efforts
  • Strengthening the capacity of national organizations to provide land tenure related services to reach disadvantaged and vulnerable groups

2. Enabling governments and communities to test new models, strategies and approaches.

  • Testing practical solutions to implementation challenges.
  • Assisting governments and communities to overcome administrative obstacles to land rights recognition and titling
  • Building capacity of government agencies responsible for titling and protecting indigenous and community rights