Global news in 2018 made hard reading. Forest peoples who we support faced intimidation and murder. Political instability and populist leaders put increasing pressure on land tenure of indigenous peoples and local communities. Reports suggest that we are losing more tropical tree cover than ever before, threatened by palm oil and other agricultural expansion, and illegal logging and mining. And the latest IPCC reports were damning in their verdict of tropical forest loss and its contribution to causing runaway climate change. This requires deep and far-reaching actions by government, business and civil society to address these issues and their causes.
Indigenous and tropical forest communities have long been known to be among the best protectors of tropical forests, and the nature they house. Working with these communities as they seek to secure control of their territories and human rights remains at the heart of our mission.
Having now been Director of Forest Peoples Programme for a year, I am very proud to be part of such a grounded organisation. Our priorities continue to be shaped by the hopes and aspirations of the communities with whom we work, often over many decades – they seek control of their territories and to live sustainably in their ancestral lands. As an organisation, we are at pains to ensure that wherever possible we are creating space for those communities to bring their agenda and vision to the fore.
This Annual Report reflects our approach, which is to tirelessly support that change from the community level up to the international level and which I have seen first-hand. For example, the community I visited in Eastern Borneo who are pushing back against a logging concession granted unfairly over their lands or the communities that I met in Cameroon who are using cutting edge technology to directly map and monitor their lands. At the international level we have supported a strong indigenous voice at major global summits such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and in meetings with senior executives of the largest global consumer goods companies.
In the year ahead the indigenous peoples and local communities with whom we work will continue to strive to achieve their aspirations and their visions for the future. We will support them to exercise their right of self-determination. We will work with partners to build more agile approaches to providing legal support for communities in crisis. We will work with forest peoples to engage more deeply with the supply chains driving deforestation – increasing company transparency and ensuring policy makers across the world make informed decisions. We will work alongside our partners to push for a transformation in the way conservation works – putting rights at the heart of stewarding nature. And we will also strengthen our own internal systems in areas such as safeguarding and infrastructure to enable us to work as a more effective and efficient globally dispersed team.
I am pleased to present this annual report, which highlights many of the ways we are working together to bring about positive, systemic change. We thank all of those who have been ongoing allies on this journey and hope you will join us to work alongside forest peoples to secure their rights and protect their homes – the world’s great forests.
Director, Forest Peoples Programme