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Dear Colleagues and Friends,
For those concerned with human rights, social, and economic development, the news emerging in the past three months has made it is easy to despair.
The G20 and Rio+20 did little more than confirm current plans for conventional economic growth, and avoided commitments for alternative development paths or ensuring respect for human rights. The Voluntary Guidelines on Land, Forests, and Fisheries, endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security in May in Rome, signal an increased appreciation among governments for the role that securing tenure plays in achieving national and global development goals, but they remain voluntary and lack monitoring and teeth for enforcement.
And though the winners of the Olympic Games were decided last week in London, we've come to accept that winning security for the rights, livelihoods and environment of the world's rural people is not something often accomplished in global meetings or global capitals.
In fact, events in several countries across the world tell a different, quieter story than Rio, Rome or London: There has been great progress on the recognition of indigenous and community forest rights in the past few months. Perhaps the best news comes from Brazil, where after eight years of fighting with IBAMA and ICMBio, 63 families in Xapuri were granted a license to manage their reserve for timber production. In Laos, the government committed to developing new land policy and forest law. In Liberia, local organizations successfully countered the Government's and Sime Darby's illegal grabbing of community land--and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) effectively enforced the decision--a major precedent for the country. The Minister of Land Affairs in DRC launched the land reform process in the country. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruling in Sarayaku v. Ecuador, made public on Wednesday, ended a decade-long legal battle by the Sarayaku Indigenous People after a foreign oil company was allowed to encroach on their traditional lands without consultation with them.
Perhaps most encouraging is that RRI's new study, Respecting Rights, Delivering Development, shows that the area of forests legally owned and managed by communities and Indigenous Peoples in the developing world has increased over the last 20 years, and now stands at just over 30%--an indication of amazing social and political progress globally. On the other hand, RRI's companion study, What Rights? shows that in most of these forest areas Indigenous Peoples and local communities do not have the minimum set of rights to manage and exclude outsiders from their forests, which limits their ability to protect their forests and benefit from its use.
The understanding that recognizing traditional tenure rights have strong social, economic, and environmental benefits is growing. The progress made by local and national actors should spur us all forward, and together we must continue to convert rights on paper into rights on the ground. The effort to secure the rights and livelihoods of billions of rural people is not a 100 meter sprint. It is a marathon. And in the past three months, the world made a few more strides forward.
- Rights and Resources Initiative
Posted By David Robeck at 11:29am on August 14, 2012
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