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Day Two Summary – Opening Plenary

Photo: IISD

Reporting back to plenary on Friday, Mark Freudenberger, Tetra Tech, for the “mapping and documentation” group, stressed that maps have many uses which can help protect community rights, enable community empowerment, and lead to legal reform. He outlined a variety of opportunities for the mapping of community land rights, which included  positive and enabling infrastructures, laws and regulations that increasingly recognize community maps; technologies and software that are reducing the costs of maps; incentivizing use and construction of maps by the private sector; and the increasing use of community maps by governments around the world. He said the group proposed the development of a global land tenure map of community land rights and called for continued discussions on creating this prototype with assistance from the World Resources Institute.

Jeff Campbell, FAO, for the “deepening synergies between rights and conservation” group, stressed that the group agreed that conservation goals depend entirely on community land rights, governance and tenure, and suggested that conservation objectives and outcomes can strengthen community tenure efforts. He highlighted that conservation groups have changed their narratives and efforts over the last decade to appreciate and work more closely on community engagement, participation and rights. He presented opportunities for action, which included  strengthening community and indigenous organizations through redirecting funds to support them and linking them to coalitions of civil society and other organizations; bringing conservation voices forward to promote tenure and resource rights security at high-level global events, such as the World Parks Conference and World Conference on Indigenous Peoples; and  including the target of doubling the amount of secure community lands in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Tapani Oksanen, Indufor, for the “private sector interest in securing community land rights” group, said that much of the discussion revolved around developing a business case for companies to pay attention to land rights, and exploring opportunities to target companies who do not yet operate in this way. On making the business case, he highlighted the need to develop risk assessment tools to quantify risks and costs of risk avoidance, and to help companies to know what needs to be done to avoid these risks. On how industry leaders can influence others, he noted that leading companies should use political influence at the national and international levels, as well as sectoral influence through, for example, trade associations. On how to build transparency in land use and supply chains, he discussed the importance of making data and maps public, through partnership with governments. He also noted that during investment planning processes, companies should make information available to communities, adding that communities need capacity strengthening to use this information. On bringing land rights issues into supply chains, he stressed the importance of finding ways to leverage change in the more difficult supply chains, such as in China.

Luca Miggiano, ILC, for the “making community land rights a global priority” group,  reported that the group was unified in a common message, but had diverse agendas and perceptions on rights. He said the group discussed the need to: focus on operationalizing international instruments at the national and local level through enforcement mechanisms and multi-stakeholder platforms; clarify definitions of community land and resource rights; and build on evidence in a way that ensures coherence across regions and groups without undermining existing struggles. He called for a contact group to bridge information across different processes, and for acting on the SDG post-2015 agenda. He noted that there was political space to talk about land rights in the UNFCCC negotiations.

For the “legal recognition and empowerment” group, Michael Ochieng Odhiambo, People, Land and Rural Development, reiterated that legal recognition is a necessary, but not adequate, condition, since it cannot be assumed that laws are functional in all countries. He noted that the group had come up with three priority areas, namely, the need for :  the legal system of the country to recognize community land rights;   improving the internal governance within communities to ensure equity and accountability, to be able to implement these land rights; and,  more effective linkage between different actors, including governments, NGOs, the private sector, development agencies, and community groups.

He added that these were linked to the idea of having an effective platform to share knowledge and experience, and help build capacity. He added that the group discussed how to translate the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests into national action.

Click here for a summary of participant discussions.

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