Reforming forest tenure and governance requires a focused and sustained global effort.

A new, focused, and sustained global effort is required to reform forest tenure and governance to the scale needed to improve local livelihoods, mitigate the effects of climate change, and ensure long-term and sustainable economic growth. To support Indigenous Peoples and other local communities and their efforts to advance their own wellbeing, RRI coordinates and combines the efforts of civil society, community organizations, governments, donors, and international institutions to advance two global goals:

1. To double the forest area under local ownership and administration in developing countries, with secure rights to conserve, use and trade products and services; and

2. To reduce poverty by half in the forested areas of the developing countries world.

Since 2002, the area of forest recognized by governments as owned or controlled by Indigenous Peoples and other communities has increased from 21% to just over 30% today in developing countries. The amount of legislation recognizing or strengthening the forest and land rights of Indigenous Peoples and communities has also increased dramatically—with over 50 laws aimed at doing so enacted since sustainable development was set as a key global objective at the 1992 Earth Summit.

Learn more about how RRI measures progress on Indigenous and other community land rights recognition.


While this is significant, the gains have not been evenly distributed. The bulk of this progress has been made in only a few countries, mostly in Latin America, and the laws that have been passed do not always provide Indigenous Peoples and local communities with the full legal means to secure their rights and benefits. Most governments continue to resist recognizing community land rights, and many continue to deny that Indigenous Peoples have any claim to their land.

Most of the new laws that recognize rights are applied at very limited scales, and are far from meeting minimum standards enshrined in international human rights laws. There is also clear evidence that the rate at which governments are allocating lands for industrial concessions greatly outpaces the rate in which community lands are being recognized. It is therefore unsurprising that a strong demand from Indigenous Peoples and communities for greater legal recognition of their land and forest rights remains.

Given the unprecedented rush for land and resources caused by rapidly rising global demand for natural resources, the next few decades are particularly critical.

To take advantage of this historic moment, RRI is scaling up its efforts.

In order to secure an increase of at least 100 million hectares of land for communities, benefiting 500 million or more Indigenous People and other communities, RRI will deepen and expand our engagement in the 17 priority countries where there are strategic opportunities, will mobilize new strategic alliances of civil-society and public and private actors, and will launch new initiatives to influence and leverage private investment to improve community land rights.