05.08.2018

WRI: Indigenous Peoples and rural communities are now racing to secure their land rights before companies come knocking.

Indigenous and community lands is the source of subsistence for 2,5 billion people. ​The increasing demand for the resources is driving the commercial interest onto these territories, typically held under informal customary arrangements. There is an urgent need to formalize and protect the land rights of the Indigenous and rural communities. People, sustainably managed lands  for generations, risk to be left behind.
According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), indigenous people and communities collectively hold more than half of the world’s land, but legally they own just 10 percent of land globally, and another 8 percent is designated by governments for community use. The Report uncovers the existing disparities in formalization of the land rights by the Indigenous people, communities and the companies: the companies and the investors have a clear advantage in the land rights formalization procedures.

And the communities face complex legal, technical, and evidentiary requirements. For example, in Indonesia, Indigenous Peoples must first lobby their regional legislature for formal recognition of their indigenous status. In Chile, indigenous communities are not eligible for the procedure unless they possess a specified historic document.To create a level the playing field between communities and companies, this report calls on countries to establish accessible and transparent community procedures that recognize all customary land, mitigate associated land conflicts, coordinate implementation and budgetary support for community land formalization, and better monitor company compliance.

The report also calls for providing communities with a more comprehensive bundle of rights, including their right to give free, prior, and informed consent to any developments on their land. Establishing dedicated resources to transparently mediate border conflicts and resolve competing third-party claims that arise during land formalization processes is equally crucial.

By Katsiaryna Serada

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