FCMC engages in global conference on "Scaling Up Strategies to Secure Community Land and Resource Rights"

FCMC engages in global conference on "Scaling Up Strategies to Secure Community Land and Resource Rights"
From September 18-20, 2013, Dr. Janis Alcorn, FCMC´s Social and Environmental Deputy Task Lead, joined 180 participants from 40 countries to analyze opportunities for advancing five critical strategies of community land and resource rights: 1) coordinate global efforts to map and document community lands; 2) legally recognize and advance rights to land; 3) leverage private sector interests in securing these rights; 4) prioritize the intersection of conservation and community lands; and 5) establish these rights as a global priority.

Participants met in Interlaken, Switzerland, and included representation from indigenous and other local community leaders, the corporate and financial sectors, civil society and non-governmental organizations, donor agencies and national governments.

The conference was co-organized by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation (Helvetas), International Land Coalition (ILC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Oxfam, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) based in Washington, D.C.

The conference was important for reducing conflicts, achieving sustainable development, and because securing community tenure is importance for REDD+ success. Approximately 451 million hectares of forests in developing countries were owned and managed by indigenous and other local communities in 2012. Yet formal community ownership of large areas of forest is contested, and communities lack the means to defend their customary rights. REDD+ investors face increased risks when forest tenure is not clear. Some private sector actors have developed best practices for respecting community resource rights, and they can be important allies for securing resource rights.

Dr. Alcorn participated in the fifth stream, focusing on global strategies for scaling up, and joined the subgroup on formal international instruments, where she contributed perspectives and suggestions related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and REDD+, and trade agreements. Prior to the conference, she also contributed suggestions for the agenda and speakers in the fourth stream, organized by IUCN, focusing on intersections of conservation and community lands, as part of FCMC's collaboration with IUCN on the Natural Resources Governance Framework (NRGF) initiative. She also joined the European Tropical Forestry Advisors (EFTA) pre-conference visit to the communal forests of Couvet, where Swiss experience with natural forest regeneration was highlighted.

Final Conference recommendations included establishing a goal to double the area under community land rights by 2018 by customizing approaches and procedures to recognize informal rights, strengthening legal systems, and rigorously monitoring progress, within the context of the United Nations’ post-2015 Development Agenda. The UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) 20 in Peru, 2014, was also identified as a key meeting for pursuing this goal within the context of the new 2015 global UNFCCC agreement— to be finalized at COP 21 in Paris. For more information about this meeting, please click here and here.

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