Insecure tenure fuels poverty, environmental degradation and conflict worldwide. At least 1.5 billion people from Indigenous Peoples and local communities live on and manage more than 50% of the world’s land area in customary or traditional systems. Despite existing laws that secure their rights, they have formal legal ownership of just 10% of the land and have some degree of government-recognized management rights over an additional 8%. Moreover, their formal and claimed rights are contested, often leading to human rights abuses and conflict between them, governments, companies and immigrant settlers.
Where communities have secure rights, deforestation is lower and carbon storage is higher than in public protected areas. Clarifying and securing these rights, especially in forests, can buy the world time to replace fossil fuels and is a vital and cost-effective climate solution. Clear and secure tenure also sets the stage for conflict resolution, peace, security, and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. When land rights are clear, investor risk is reduced and communities can work on their own or in partnership with corporations to generate substantial gains for local development. Clear and secure forest and land tenure significantly supports six major areas of global development: