Secure land rights are key to the capacity of indigenous communities to respond effectively to the climate crisis — as well as providing them with socio-economic benefits — according to an informational brief jointly produced by the International Land Coalition (ILC) and the Global Land Programme (GLP).
Their conclusion aligns with recent findings from the University of Helsinki showing that supporting the rights of Amazonian indigenous peoples is crucial for conservation; with a study from Rutgers University showing the importance of indigenous and local knowledge for monitoring and managing ecosystems; and with research undertaken in 2019 at the University of British Columbia, showing that biodiversity is highest on indigenous-managed lands.
Anne Larson, a principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which currently holds a seat on the ILC council and played a key role in developing the ILC/GLP publication, said: “The brief recognises that respect for indigenous knowledge and cultures contributes to sustainable development and sound environmental management, while mitigating poverty and inequality.”
“Serious consequences arise from the lack of political will over granting formal land rights,” Larson added.
The brief cites the discovery that in the Brazilian Amazon, for example, territories managed by indigenous peoples were subject to less than 10% of the deforestation experienced in the rest of the region.
Her comments echoed the statement from Nick Reo, co-author of the 2019 British Columbia study, who said: “Collaborating with indigenous governments, communities and organisations can help to conserve biodiversity as well as support indigenous rights to land, sustainable resource use and well-being.” Reo is associate professor of environmental studies and Native American studies at Dartmouth College and a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario tribe of Chippewa Indians.
Securing full, collective land rights — with the support of a government that represented workers as well as corporations — was also the key factor in the resolution of a conflict between Amazon communities and transnational mining company Alcoa, reported by Mongabay.
CIFOR article on the land rights brief