On the United Nations’ International Women’s Day 2022 (March 8), the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is honouring 16 women who are making significant impacts on stopping runaway climate change through science, finance, policymaking, art, activism, Indigenous rights, and more.
The outstanding contributions of these women, who span more than two generations and five continents, have led to higher commitments in international climate treaty negotiations, increased public awareness and activism, the rise of climate finance, the growing reach of science, and on-the-ground conservation and restoration across the globe.
The Tenure Facility is honoured to announce Nonette Royo as one of 16 Women Restoring the Earth. In describing her journey to become a lawyer and land rights activist, Nonette Royo cites the influence of her father – an Indigenous healer, linguist, educator, and court clerk – and to the variety of peoples she encountered growing up in Northern Mindanao, in the Philippines.
“I saw beauty in diverse Indigenous cultures, their practices, their forests – and defending these domains and forests killed some of my very close friends,” says Royo, now the executive director of the Tenure Facility. “I was sure I would become an alternative lawyer [a lawyer that supports historically marginalized groups] – to use the pen to fight, not the gun.”
Preserving the land rights of Indigenous Peoples is increasingly recognized as crucial to protecting forests and nature, in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation. But these rights are often unrecognized by governments or, even worse, indigenous-held lands are forcefully taken from their longstanding custodians. The Tenure Facility supports Indigenous Peoples and local communities to use existing legal opportunities to secure their tenure rights and monitor their territory. With this approach we already helped groups advance their rights, thrive, and protect nature up to 14 million hectares of land, despite the Tenure Facility only existing for a few years.
Royo sees these early successes as only the beginning of a long but fruitful journey. “Akin to sailing a waka traditional canoe, we have left the harbour and trust that the sail is powered not by us, but by the effort and wisdom of the very protectors of the forests and ancestral domains, the Indigenous Peoples and local communities themselves – and on their own terms, we help them work and sail smoothly.”
The third annual ‘16 Women Restoring the Earth’ campaign encourages recognition of women in a world in which women are under-represented in science and technology – and are especially vulnerable to climate change and environmental distress.
Each of the leaders has been an active participant in the Global Landscapes Forum’s work and mission over the past year. ‘16 Women Restoring the Earth’ aligns with this year’s Women’s Day theme: ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’.
The Tenure Facility and partners congratulate Nonette on this amazing recognition of her lifelong commitment and we are humbled by GLF’s acknowledgement of Tenure Facility’s mission to secure land tenure for the world’s Indigenous and local communities.
Click here to learn more about the 16 woman restoring the earth