Dr. Solange Bandiaky-Badji, Coordinator, Rights and Resources Group

A Message from RRI Coordinator, Solange Bandiaky-Badji

Dear friends,

I am delighted to present to you RRI’s 2023 annual report—a snapshot of our major achievements from last year.

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Indeed, across societies, collective power can play a vital role in challenging the status quo and bringing transformative change. In 2025, RRI will celebrate its coalition’s 20th anniversary. In preparation for this milestone, we must reflect now on how to redefine our shared vision for using the collective power RRI has cultivated in two decades.

Since 2005, RRI has grown into a global solidarity network that has the potential to transform social-economic relationships and help build a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable planet. Despite geographic and cultural disparities, we have found many commonalities in the struggles of rightsholders across the world. We want to use this year to reflect on how we can leverage these commonalities and the incredible impact our members across the world have achieved.

For our staff and leadership, 2023 was a year of building and strengthening movements with the communities that underpin RRI’s mission. Through regional conferences, global workshops, and strategic meetings, we heard from rightsholders about the ways we can strengthen the coalition. Perhaps the most pivotal one was to do more to include and amplify the voices and perspectives of Indigenous, Afro-descendant, and local community women and youth who have historically been left out of national and global strategies and meetings.

In 2023, we continued our commitment to evidence-based advocacy by releasing our flagship report monitoring forest and land tenure rights across all ecosystems. The second edition of Who Owns the World’s Land? brought us back to the fundamental question of who owns the world’s resources—finding that while governments recognized over 100 million hectares of community lands between 2015 and 2020, much of this progress is attributable to communities themselves with little government support or donor assistance. The report underscores the need for a dramatic increase in global investments in collective land rights, and recognition that international climate and biodiversity commitments can only be met if we prioritize the foresight, capacity, and stewardship of the communities who have maintained the world’s ecosystems thus far.

Across our regions, we continued to strengthen and incubate new alliances and networks. Our Africa coalition organized the continent’s firstever Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Conservation Congress in Namibia, paving the way for a new Alliance for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for Conservation in Africa (AICA). In Indonesia, we supported the Coalition for Tenure Justice in leading the Third National Tenure Conference, which granted momentum for Indonesia’s tenure movement in the recently concluded 2024 elections. And in Latin America, we strengthened the Afrodescendent coalition, helping its leaders engage strongly in global climate spaces. At CoP28 in Dubai, they demonstrated Afro-descendant Peoples’ contribution to biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation by releasing significant geo-referenced data of their territories in biodiversity hotspots across Latin America and the Caribbean.

We also took major steps to strengthen women’s solidarity and voices within the broader community rights movement. In partnership with Central Africa’s Network of Indigenous and Local Populations for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems (REPALEAC), we organized the First Forum of Indigenous and Local Community Women in Central Africa and the Congo Basin. This unprecedented gathering highlighted the leading role of Indigenous and local community women in protecting the Congo Basin’s natural resources and advocated for more funding to support their climate and conservation efforts.

Our current Strategic Program places a key emphasis on youth and incorporating intergenerational leadership in RRI’s work. In line with this, RRI members in Asia and Latin America undertook two exciting projects: one was a manifesto led by Indigenous, Afrodescendant, and local community youth in Latin America, united for the defense of their ancestral territories. Another was a joint report from Asia that incorporated the experiences of Indigenous and local community youth activists into a call to action. Both initiatives planted seeds for broader actions the coalition will pursue in 2024 to build stronger intergenerational dialogue within our communities.

This annual report is a snapshot of just some of our pivotal successes that energize us as we embark upon our 2024 workplans. We are excited to begin working on these plans and demonstrate the indelible power of collective action.

As always, I am deeply grateful for your continued support for our mission.

Solange Bandiaky-Badji's Signature

Dr. Solange Bandiaky-Badji

Coordinator, Rights and Resources Initiative