Up to 2.5 billion people, including 370 million Indigenous people, depend on lands and natural resources that are held, used or managed collectively. Their rights to those resources are under threat, with only an estimated 10% formally recognized as owned by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. This leaves 1/3 of the world’s population vulnerable to pressures from more powerful actors. More broadly, societies that have insecure land rights have fewer opportunities to enjoy prosperity and achieve sustainable development.
The forests, rangelands, mountains, wetlands, and lakes governed as collective resources by Indigenous Peoples and local communities are biodiversity hotspots that regulate water flows, sequester carbon and maintain the ecological balance of our planet. Because we all benefit, we should all protect and defend those peoples and customary institutions that have preserved these ecosystems for centuries.
Collective land rights are an essential condition for Indigenous Peoples and local communities to enjoy human rights, and uphold cultural diversity. The reality is that even just speaking out to defend land and environmental rights puts people in danger of being forced from their homes, threatened and even killed. We envision a world where all women and men, peoples and communities have the right to shape their own destiny without fear or intimidation.