Thematic Work

Linking Rights with Climate and Conservation Action

The importance of rights in the context of global climate action and conservation reached new heights in 2022. Due in no small part to years of evidence-based advocacy by our coalition members, we saw strong acknowledgements of the essential contributions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in the targets laid out by the new Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework. These affirmations were also central to emerging climate financing priorities, and influential in the design of the Core Carbon Principles developed by the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets.

But issues surrounding the social and environmental integrity of market-based projects and jurisdictional emission reduction schemes persist, as do the unexamined consequences of land-based removals committed to by UNFCCC parties in their Nationally Determined Contributions. Here are some highlights of our efforts to ensure that the rapidly growing efforts to restore and conserve the world’s natural resources recognize and respect the rights of IPs, LCs, and ADPs.

Here are a few of our achievements from 2022.

At CoP27 in Egypt, RRI launched the Land Rights Standard in collaboration with the Global Landscapes Forum. The Standard sets a new precedent for Indigenous, community, and Afro-descendent rights, and those of women and youth within these groups. It was developed by Indigenous and community leaders through a robust bottom-up collaboration jointly steered by RRI and the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group for Sustainable Development. The Standard’s launch was supported and endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council and over 75 rightsholder organizations and their allies. We are now seeking endorsements for the principles from climate, conservation, and development institutions, private companies, and investors.

Nepal village building | Credit: Igor-Ovsyannykov, Unsplash

Since the Glasgow Donor Pledge of USD 1.7 billion to advance the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, actors and rightsholders in the global arena have paid increasing attention to the appropriateness of existing channels and mechanisms to deliver resources where they are most needed. Together with Rainforest Foundation Norway, RRI conducted an assessment of donor pledges from the past decade to see how funding effectiveness could be improved going forward, leading to the development of a fit for purpose criteria that call for channeling funding for climate, conservation, and rights action in ways that are supportive of local peoples’ leadership, gender-inclusive, and aligned in terms of flexibility, long-term needs, timeliness, accessibility, and mutual accountability. This and other emerging opportunities at the global and regional levels were prominently featured in a side event at CoP27, which highlighted critical developments in this arena spearheaded by RRI’s CLARIFI mechanism and other local Indigenous and community-led funds.

“For too long, Indigenous Peoples and local communities have received shockingly little climate funding. We are excited about the hope and promise CLARIFI brings to channel long overdue recognition and resources directly to the Earth’s most effective stewards.”

– Stanley Kimaren ole Riamit, Maasai leader and Founder-Director of Kenya’s Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners

Following the official launch of RRI’s Community Land Rights and Conservation Finance Initiative (CLARIFI) in January 2022, we inaugurated a series of pilot projects in the Amazon Basin, East Africa, and Indonesia throughout the year. CLARIFI is led by RRI and Campaign for Nature and will contribute to raising up to USD 10 billion by 2030 to scale up the formal recognition of Indigenous, Afro-descendant, and local community land rights, conservation, and sustainable management of their territories. The mechanism secured substantial new public and private funding by the end of 2022 to support its projects.

Vegetable harvest from a community garden in Deman District, Bengkulu, Sumatra, Indonesia | Credit: Jacob Maentz

On December 6, RRI helped organize a first-of-its-kind gathering of Indigenous and local community rightsholders from North America and the global South ahead of the UN CBD CoP15 in Montréal, Canada. The dialogue kicked off an unprecedented North-South dialogue around Indigenous and community-led conservation, women’s leadership in these efforts, and coordination among global Indigenous rights movements. Co-organized with Canada-based Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership (CRP) and the ICCA Consortium, the event brought together over 350 participants in person and online representing Indigenous and local community organizations, civil society and non-governmental organizations, funders, academics, and governments.