For people around the world, land is a source of food, shelter, and livelihoods. Given their importance, land rights are surely human rights—right?
While a government might consider that a community’s lands can generate greater public benefits if used as the site of a large-scale project, such as for agriculture or forestry, that needs to be balanced with how taking the land will affect the people who lived there and depended on that land.
Climate change is a destabilizing force that touches all sectors of society, whether agriculture, forestry, infrastructure, energy, water or health. The inherently intertwined and complex nature of climate change impacts means that strong institutions, laws and policies are critical to ensuring that these impacts don’t impinge on the rights of local populations. Key among these institutions, laws and policies are those that deal with land and resource governance.
As the world rushes to invest in clean energy, the potential impacts of these projects on the rights of local individuals and communities need to be properly addressed.
Indigenous peoples and other communities hold and manage 50 to 65 percent of the world’s land, yet governments recognize only 10 percent as legally belonging to these groups, with another 8 percent designated by governments for communities. That’s bad economic policy.