Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Work themes

Organisation of Work themes

FPP organises its work into three sub-programmes on: Legal and Human Rights, Environmental Governance, and Responsible Finance; and into three cross-cutting themes on: Climate and Forests, Communications, and Administration.

Environmental governance

Most of the planet's areas of high biological diversity are located within the territories of indigenous and tribal forest peoples, who have been managing the environment through their own systems based on traditional knowledge, practices, rules and beliefs for generations ('customary use'). Yet in many countries forest peoples do not have secure tenure over these areas and are denied access and use of their territories because of inadequate government policies, extractive industries’ activities, or conservation initiatives, such as protected areas. At the same time, many indigenous territories are increasingly threatened by unsustainable activities such as logging, mining, and plantations while the communities are not, or are only minimally, involved in official decision-making and management of these areas. Forest peoples who are facing such challenges are taking action to protect their rights and negotiate better access and greater involvement in the management of natural resources in their territories. Their initiatives include community resource mapping, documentation of customary sustainable resource use, development of community-based territorial management plans, and strengthening of community institutions and decision-making mechanisms. They advocate for recognition of land and resource rights with local and national authorities and work to achieve enhanced understanding and application of FPIC in conservation and/or development initiatives related to resources on their lands. These initiatives are supported by FPP. A particular focus of many forest communities is to challenge top-down models of conservation that restrict their access and livelihoods, and violate their rights. They work to promote the application of a rights-based approach to conservation, which respects their rights in conservation initiatives. With support of FPP, they research to what extent international guidelines and agreements on protected areas related to indigenous peoples’ rights are being put into practice at international, national and local levels, and advocate for national reforms in protected area policies. They also raise their concerns and propose alternatives in international standard-setting processes, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Climate & forests

Many emerging climate policies and new forest funds have potential impacts on the rights and interests of forest peoples in the tropics. In line with the broad objectives of the Responsible Finance Programme, FPP advocacy aims to ensure that all international funding for forests and climate change mitigation and adaptation is accountable to indigenous peoples and other local rights holders who depend on forests for their lives, livelihoods and way of life. Activities target international funds and policy processes and also provide support to local partners seeking to influence the formulation of national policies on forest and climate issues. Amid the growing international consensus on the need to take urgent measures to tackle climate change, policies for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) have emerged as a key issue in global and regional policy debates about climate change mitigation and forest management. At the same time, new funds for supporting REDD have been set up in the World Bank and the UN. Bilateral finance is also growing for REDD through schemes such as the Congo Basin Forest Fund supported by the UK government and the Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative (NCFI).

Legal & human rights

Indigenous and other forest peoples experience racial and cultural discrimination, are denied rights to lands and livelihoods, to organise and to represent themselves, and, in short, are hindered in myriad ways from fully exercising and enjoying their right to self-determination. FPP provides technical legal and related assistance to help forest peoples tackle these injustices. By supporting their organisations, nations and/or communities to understand and use national and international legal processes, we assist forest peoples to challenge violations of their rights, promote alternatives, including through legislative and other reforms, and pursue legal cases through the courts and international bodies.

Responsible finance

The Responsible Finance Programme (RFP) aims to make public and private finance for development and the environment fully accountable to the public and affected communities. FPP advocates for rights-based approaches in development and emphasises that international finance agencies have a duty to ensure that the aid and investments that they support uphold the obligations of donor and recipient countries under international law. Advocacy targets include the World Bank Group, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and Asian Development Bank alongside bilateral aid agencies such as the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The programme also carries out advocacy on the private sector with the aim of promoting respect for human rights and greater corporate accountability. FPP’s advocacy activities seek to ensure that international financial institutions (IFIs) and development agencies adopt and fully comply with social and environmental policies that are in line with international standards, including human rights norms. RFP tracks the different safeguard policies of IFIs and pushes for upward harmonisation in standards and the establishment of mechanisms and incentives to promote effective implementation of safeguards. Major efforts are also made to monitor IFI loan and grant operations affecting forests and forest-dependent communities. Where requested by local partners, FPP may also assist community appeals and complaints to IFI accountability mechanisms in order to help them secure redress and expose problems in IFI due diligence.