Among these billions of people are the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities who live on and manage approximately 65 percent of the world’s land area in customary or traditional systems. Despite existing laws that secure their rights, rarely do Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities have formally recognized ownership of their land. These rights are contested, often leading to egregious human rights abuses and environmental degradation.

Clarifying and securing forest and land tenure significantly supports six major areas of global development:

  • Poverty eradication
  • Economic development
  • Food security
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Conservation
  • Gender justice

When negotiating investment and development contracts for land and resources, governments frequently claim ownership of contested land and consider them to be uninhabited. Since the rules that govern relationships between land, forests, and people are often unclear, unenforced, or undocumented, they inevitably pit communities, businesses, and governments against one another with competing land claims. Local peoples are the best stewards of their lands, and ensuring that their land rights are respected benefits us all.

Learn more about the current state of global tenure rights for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities by using this Tenure Data Tool, which compares changes in statutory forest tenure in 52 highly forested countries.