In October 2017 Stockholm hosted a series of international events dedicated to the issue of land and resource rights. On October 3, Swedish Development Agency, Sida organised a “Development Talk” on the theme: Land rights – a prerequisite for combating climate change and advancing peace and gender equality, followed by an in-depth session in the afternoon on Securing Community Land and Resource Rights in Practice. You can watch video from both of the events here.
On October 4-5, Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), together with SIANI and other partners, organised the 3rd International Conference on Community Land and Resource Rights at Vår Gård Conference Center, just outside of Stockholm. The event attracted more than 300 participants from all over the world under the motto Reducing Inequality in a Turbulent World.
In this blog I will briefly tell about the International Land and Forest Tenure Facility and describe what I found particularly interesting during this “week of land rights” in Stockholm.
The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility: How will it work?
The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility was launched on the 3rd of October at the Swedish Development Agency, Sida. The Tenure Facility (for short) is a new international mechanism created to support recognition of land rights of communities around the world, and Sida is one of the facility’s donors. Initiated by RRI from an interim office in Washington DC with activities on a pilot-basis a couple of years ago, the initiative has now found a new home in Stockholm.
Tenure Facility is a unique institution. Firstly, it is the only international, multi-stakeholder, institution exclusively focused on securing collective land and forest rights for indigenous peoples and local communities. Secondly, funding support is channeled directly to selected local organizations with a minimum of bureaucracy. At the same time, the local partners are encouraged to collaborate with associated government agencies on the implementation of activities. Thirdly, the Tenure Facility will give a priority to activities with strategic significance which can catalyze the scaling-up of models and procedures for securing the land and forest rights of local people at the national level.
The Tenure Facility has already piloted this approach in several countries, of which those in Mali, Indonesia and Peru were presented at the Sida meeting in Stockholm. More details on all the pilot-projects can be found at the Tenure Facility’s website
One question that came up during the discussion was why the Tenure Facility has chosen to focus so much on collective property rights to land and forests. There are several reasons for this. For a start, most tropical forests are traditionally held as commons by local people and, therefore, it is logical to secure their land rights as collective properties. In addition, for historical and socio-cultural reasons indigenous peoples often wish to maintain control over their land and forest areas as integral territories. However, formalising communal customary tenure systems as collective property might be problematic in some places, like Sub-Saharan Africa, because of the internal differentiation that often characterise customary tenure regimes there. As recent research has shown, some people might risk being left out when these regimes are formalised. This is especially true for women and immigrants. It will be interesting to see how the Tenure Facility will deal with these kind of issues.