The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility is the first and only international, multi-stakeholder financial mechanism exclusively focused on securing land and forest rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities. It provides grants to implement tenure rights under existing law and policy and shares the knowledge, innovations and tools that emerge. Launched in 2014 by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the Tenure Facility is dedicated to scaling up recognition of collective land and forest rights globally. This helps reduce conflict and further the achievement of global human rights, environment, and development goals. The Tenure Facility is an international foundation registered in Sweden.
As much as 2.5 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 10% of the land and have some degree of government-recognized management rights over an additional 8%. When their rights are not recognized by governments or are insecure, poverty, environmental degradation, and conflict result. Moreover, their rights are often contested, leading to human rights abuses and conflict between them, and with governments, companies, and immigrant settlers.
Securing the land and forest tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities benefit everyone by providing a foundation for achieving sustainable development, addressing climate goals and reducing conflict at a reasonable cost. Many initiatives and organizations provide some support. However, none provide the flexible and direct financial support to Indigenous Peoples and local organizations required to respond at the speed and scale necessary to secure the lives of the millions of people and hectares of forest that are at immediate risk. Moreover, there is no other international organization dedicated solely to financing projects to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ land rights on the ground.
The unmet demand for financial and technical assistance hinders progress on human rights, sustainable development, agriculture, forest conservation, and climate change. Global leaders from all sectors are increasingly aware that tenure security is a prerequisite for achieving national and international goals for forest governance, food security, climate mitigation, economic development, and human rights. Governments understand that they face serious challenges as they implement tenure reform and titling and are asking the international community for support. Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ organizations are also asking for support to clarify and protect their rights to land and resources. Many initiatives and organizations provide some support. However, none provide the flexible and direct support to Indigenous Peoples and local organizations required to respond at the speed and scale necessary to secure the lives of the millions of people and hectares of forest that are at immediate risk. Moreover, there is no one international organization dedicated to supporting Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ efforts to secure their rights, while complementing and collaborating with initiatives to advance recognition.
The Tenure Facility fills this gap by advancing and catalyzing implementation of local land and tenure rights. Our comparative advantages are speed, flexibility and singular focus on implementing land and forest tenure by releasing the power of local community and Indigenous Peoples’ initiatives to secure tenure using on their strategies, skills, and energies.