From 19 - 20 September 2013, representatives from Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and from FPP’s partner organisations attended an international conference in Interlaken, Switzerland, on community land and resource rights, organised by the Rights and Resources Initiative, the International Land Coalition, Oxfam, IUCN and Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.
The conference focused on five critical strategies which were discussed in different working groups:
- Coordinate global efforts to map and document community lands;
- Legally recognise and advance rights to land;
- Leverage private sector interests in securing these rights;
- Prioritise the intersection of conservation and community lands;
- Establish these rights as a global priority.
Strategies emerging from these sessions include:
- Produce a global community land tenure map which identifies the population in each particular area and its boundaries. Sharing this data and maintaining its access to all parties is critically important to ensuring the future recognition of local rights.
- Develop and sustain national level conversations between all key stakeholders on clarified land rights, including the conservation community whose goals depend entirely on securing community land rights, land governance, and tenure recognition. Also, increase the dialogue between community land rights and conservation organisations at the global level, at fora such as the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the World Parks Congress.
- Identify and leverage those private sector actors who have come to recognise the importance of clarified land rights, and then promote the best practices of these actors. At the same time, identify and discourage those actors who do not respect community land rights, and work to close the space they have to operate on. One way to do this is to increase the transparency in supply chains and risk assessments, and thus spreading the information about these processes so that the affected communities understand what is taking place.
- Understand that legal empowerment has limited value if the legal system is not functional. Continue to invest in proven methods to strengthen legal systems and local governance – which is just as important as the empowerment itself.
- In developing systems and procedures for recognising land rights, understand that different cultures and systems of governance may not accept a one-size-fits-all approach. Customising an approach to securing tenure rights is a key to success.
- Develop ambitious indicators to measure progress on strengthening community land rights, in the context of the current discussions on a new development framework to be launched in 2015.
More information about the conference can be found on the conference’s website: http://www.communitylandrights.org/