Who We Are

Securing Indigenous, community, and Afro-descendant land rights—including the rights of the women within these groups—is vital to both staving off the climate crisis and achieving sustainable development. It’s also a human rights imperative. Rights and Resources Initiative is a global coalition of more than 150 rightsholder organizations and their allies dedicated to advancing the land and resource rights of local peoples— informed and driven by Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, and local communities themselves.

Why Community Land Rights?

Up to 2.5 billion people live in community arrangements worldwide. They directly manage over 50 percent of the world’s land, including much of the remaining forestland and biodiversity hotspots.

Yet legal recognition of rights lags far behind, with only 10 percent of the world’s lands recognized as owned by Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, and local communities.

Scaling-up efforts to close the gap in rights recognition represents the world’s single greatest opportunity—in terms of land coverage and number of people affected—to advance global climate and development goals. Getting this right is also critical for protecting human rights and women’s rights. 

RRI’s Mission

Rights and Resources Initiative’s mission is to support Indigenous Peoples’, Afro-descendant Peoples’, and local communities’ struggles against marginalization and for sustainable, self-determined development. It does so by promoting greater global commitment and action towards policy, market, and legal reforms that secure their rights to own, control, and benefit from natural resources, especially land and forests.

To advance this mission, Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) has three global goals:

  • To substantially increase the forest area under local ownership and administration, with secure rights to manage, conserve, use, and trade products and services.
  • To increase the adoption of progressive laws, regulations, and practices that promote the customary and statutory forest land rights of Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, local communities, and women within those groups, and simultaneously reduce efforts that weaken these.
  • To dramatically improve the self-determined socio-economic status of Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, and local communities.

Situated within the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, RRI has adopted two targets as global indicators of progress:

  • At least 50% of lower- and middle-income country forest area is owned by or designated for use by Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, and local communities by 2030.
  • Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, and local communities —and the women within those groups—have recognized rights to manage, conserve, use, and trade forest products and services in 100 percent of the area under their ownership or designated use by 2030.

Securing Community Land Rights is Possible

Fortunately, there has been significant progress on this front. In 2002, only 40 countries had legal frameworks recognizing communities as forest owners or designated rightsholders. By 2017, at least 54 countries had adopted such laws, establishing new pathways for community forest ownership. Around 150 million hectares of land were recognized for communities in the last 15 years—an area three times the size of Spain. 

If just four countries implemented existing laws, the world could double the gains made in the past 15 years, and much more could be achieved if other countries followed their lead, dramatically scaling up tenure security for millions of forest people.

See how this change happens.