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Summary of Day One – Afternoon Plenary Session

Photo: IISD

The Thursday afternoon plenary  session began with reports from each of the five strategy sessions that are taking place simultaneously on both days.

Joji Cariño, Executive Director of the Forest Peoples Programme, on behalf of the “legal recognition and empowerment” group, noted the wide range of views in the group and highlighted a number of legal pathways for local land rights, which included: the declaration approach or overnight change of law; the domain or boundary-focused approach; the governance approach, which distinguishes between local and national jurisdictions; the indigenous approach of native titling; the case-by-case titling approach; the backdoor approach, which interfaces with different arenas such as conservation; and finally the incremental approach which tackles legal issues through small gains. She also highlighted the importance of international law in leveraging political space at the national level.

Rukka Sombolinggi, Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), spoke on behalf of the the “mapping and documentation” group. She stressed the urgency for more mapping of boundaries, rights and communities, policy processes at the national level, and global threats to indigenous communities. She highlighted the challenge of identifying what types of maps are needed and emphasized that social processes are very expensive and take time, noting the lack of donor support for these initiatives. Highlighting the complexity of different localities, she said that the group will next discuss how to find a common regional approach and how to develop a strategy for mapping indigenous rights and local communities. She suggested one output from this group may be a global map of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Mark Constantine, International Finance Corporation, for the “private sector interest in securing community land rights” group, noted that much progress has been made and good practice examples exist from the private sector. He illustrated an example of a company based in a developing country that is expanding internationally and changing its behavior for the better as a result of civil society’s efforts of naming, shaming and then engagement. Through these processes, the private sector and civil society organizations have learned to work together more collaboratively, particularly in the area of land governance. He noted a key challenge is to include companies not in the “progressive camp.” Other topics which will continue to be discussed include how far companies can go in certain contexts and the relevance of round tables on certifications.

Jane Carter, HELVETAS, for the “making community land rights a global priority” group, highlighted that there was disagreement on definitional issues, for example on the use of terms such as “indigenous” versus “place-based” people. She said that the role of women in indigenous groups was also a debate that needed to be explored, and illustrated that there was no shortage of international instruments, but that the big issue was enforcement. She explained that “carrots” such as investment can be used, but that “sticks,” such as international treaties, grievance mechanisms, and World Bank inspection panels and safeguards, can be explored further.

Gonzalo Oviedo, IUCN, on behalf of the “deepening synergies between rights and conservation” group, discussed approaches in conservation arenas to address community concerns. He highlighted several good experiences from the ground where communities have obtained rights, but also recognized associated challenges, such as differing understandings of what community rights mean in practice. He stressed that the impacts of political economy on tenure rights in a region needs to be recognized. Oviedo explained that new conservation approaches like REDD should have a precondition to support community rights for them to be successful, and recommended that stronger broad-based alliances should be established because growing pressure on the economy, land and resources are issues that affect both conservation and communities.

This is an abridged version of a report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Reporting Services.  A full summary will be available here on September 23, 2013. For more conference highlights, click here.

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