A few years ago, after observing the struggle of poor Brazilians all over the Northeast of the country I took a decision – I would work to promote the conservation of nature while at the same time improving the livelihoods of the people that depend on it—in other words, to secure impoverished communities’ land and resource rights.
Luckily enough, that is what I have been doing for the past three years. Working closely with the Rights and Resources Initiative I have participated in several very interesting projects. These included understanding how much of the world’s forests are managed or owned by communities; the degree of recognition of communities’ rights to forest resources around the globe; and the competing pressures communities have to face in order to implement these rights (e.g. land grabbing and conservation initiatives that exclude human activities).
On the one hand, the more I study this subject, the more convinced I become that recognizing and securing rights to land and resources for those depending on and protecting it for generations is vital for humanity as a whole, and not just for one community’s well-being. It is a local solution for some of the most challenging global problems: it helps the conservation of our natural resources, combats poverty, and prevents conflicts.
On the other hand, the more I dig in, the more I verify the complexity of the issues around securing the ownership of land and resources to Indigenous Peoples and other resource depending communities. For example, there is little information available at the global level; contexts differ a great deal depending on the community, country or region in question; and there are several ways of promoting the issue depending on the priority of the different organizations working to foster these rights.
I see this conference as an important opportunity to promote the need to secure land and resources rights at a global level and to create synergies among the different relevant actors. I also think it will allow me to put the work I do into a greater context. Organized by some of the most important organizations working at the global level to Secure Land and Resource Rights for the poor, this conference will guarantee the presence of relevant actors from around the world. And it will, therefore, provide experts and stake-holders, including myself, with a unique opportunity to decrease the gap of information on global land issues, share experiences and find converging local and global strategies to scale -up recognition of community land and resource rights.
Fernanda Almeida works as an international legal consultant undertaking comparative legal, regulatory and policy research and analysis. Fernanda is involved in several projects of the Rights and Resources Initiative, including maintaining and updating RRI database on the bundle of forest tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples and communities in the most forested countries in the world (published in the What Rights report).
Prior to working as a consultant she worked as project manager for the government of Minas Gerais, Brazil, the Subnational Doing Business team at the World Bank and the legal team of the Inter American Development Bank. She holds a law degree from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil from 2005 and a Master of Science in Foreign Services from Georgetown University in 2007 where she received the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and German and is based in Berlin, Germany.