Indonesia is comprised of 13,000 islands and is home to an estimated 50-70 million indigenous people, around a fifth of the total population. Living mainly in rural forest, mountain or coastal areas - which are often rich in natural resources - indigenous peoples have seen their rights ignored in the push for development, with their traditional lands being handed over by successive governments to private mining, timber or other companies, with little in the way of consultation or due process. As a result, many indigenous communities live in poverty.
Since the fall of Suharto’s regime in 1998, the Indigenous Peoples of Indonesia have achieved significant breakthroughs in their struggle for recognition of their collective land rights. This struggle culminated in the May 2013 Constitutional Court Ruling, which declared that the state had wrongly appropriated customary forests and should return them to indigenous communities.
Yet after years of reforms at the constitutional and legislative level, the majority of Indonesia’s Indigenous Peoples remain without legal recognition, and there has been little real progress recognizing indigenous lands. The political environment changed radically with the 2014 elections, creating space for the community organisation AMAN, which represents around 17 million people in more than 2000 indigenous communities across Indonesia – and the Tenure Facility – to start working to dramatically extend the legal recognition and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Since then, the Indonesian Government has set ambitious targets for millions of hectares of land reform, as well as establishing a ‘One Map’ initiative to integrate land rights and use data, making it easily accessible to decision-makers. Despite this, challenges remain, with competition for resources, private sector encroachment and weak law enforcement acting as a drag on progress.
In this complex but exciting context, the Tenure Facility and its partners have successfully concluded a pilot project which advanced tenure security over 1.5 million hectares of land, and a second project is now underway.
For a Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF), go here.
For a timeline of land and forest rights in Indonesia, click here.
To learn more about the work of the Tenure Facility’s partners in Indonesia, see below.