News Environment, Forestry

How are tenure and rights included in global Sustainable Development Goals? How can the link between tenure and sustainable landscapes be strengthened? These questions were on the agenda when IUFRO WFSE, FAO, EFI, and Luke hosted a session at Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany, 23 June.

The main messages from the introductory presentation by Luke’s senior scientist Pia Katila and a panel discussion included:

  • Clear and strong rights to land and resources are important (but not sufficient) preconditions for improving forests, local livelihoods, and moving forward with many Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Rural land rights are implicitly included in three SDGs: SDG 1, SDG 2 and SDG 5. The indicators to track progress on the targets that address land and resource rights do not specifically address rights to forest resources; they focus either on all land or specifically on agricultural land. Furthermore, the SDGs do not refer to the full ‘bundle rights’ that includes access, use, manage, exclude and alienate. The emphasis is on the security of rights.
  • In the SDGs rights are not connected to land and resource governance issues such as participation and empowerment, accountable and just institutions and processes, although, these are addressed in other SDGs especially 5 on gender, 10 on inequality, and 16 on peace, justice and institutions. But the progress made in these SDGs would also need to encompass the institutions and processes affecting land tenure and the processes for clarifying and formalizing rights to land and resources.
  • Securing indigenous community rights is essential for self-determination.
  • In practice, strengthened community rights to forests or customary rights recognition are rarely accompanied by security of tenure or various forms of support given to other sectors (agriculture) and to other actors (large industry).
  • Successful cases show that strong rights to communities can improve forests and livelihoods, but only when these are accompanied by multi-dimensional support to communities.
  • Unless local resource tenure and use rights are strengthened, increased law enforcement will worsen existing inequalities. ‘Safeguards’ are not enough to counter the current forms of resource exploitation and conservation that favour formalization, standardization and legalization over local systems of governing resource access.
  • Complementing the work of Tenure Facility, FAO is working with countries to advocate for, and strengthen policies and programs for more comprehensive support to communities, aligning them with internationally endorsed principles on tenure and human rights, and building on recent reviews and lessons learned.
An all women panel discussion with Nonette Royo (Tenure Facility), Safia Aggarwal (FAO), Connie McDermott (University of Oxford) and Anne Larson (@CIFOR). Pia Katila (Luke; on the right) gave an introductory presentation to kick off the session. Photo: EFI.