Linking Rights with Climate and Conservation Action

In 2023, the Rights, Climate, and Conservation Program faced a dynamic landscape shaped by the adoption of the 2022 Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework, which underscores the need for rights-based conservation, and growing distrust over the ability of voluntary carbon markets to do the same. However, even as governments and corporations turn to nature-based solutions and market-driven approaches to fulfill their climate and biodiversity commitments while simultaneously expanding projects that worsen the world’s environmental crisis, the pressures exerted on Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, and local communities are only likely to grow.

With these considerations in mind, we gave particular attention to identifying structural constraints to the advancement of rightsbased approaches and enhancing collaboration and knowledge sharing to help the coalition and its allies better understand the challenges and opportunities ahead.

A fishing boat sits on Lake Tamblingan in the customary territory of the Adat Dalem Tamblingan Indigenous community in northcentral Bali, Indonesia. | Photo Credit: Nicole Harris, RRI.

Here are a few of our achievements from 2023.

  1. During UN Climate Week in New York City, we initiated a new dialogue series with Rainforest Foundation Norway, Rainforest Foundation US, and the Forest Peoples Programme. The inaugural dialogue provided a platform for over 70 rightsholders and their allies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America to share experiences and lessons learned from market and non-market climate financing initiatives. The participants identified a broad range of challenges and pathways that can better support their current and future needs. Going forward, RRI will provide field-level technical and legal support to rightsholders to strengthen their capacity to advocate for the climate futures they seek.
  2. Also at UN Climate Week, we facilitated a workshop on Advancing Rights in Area-based Conservation in partnership with the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC), Campaign for Nature, and the ICCA Consortium. By connecting rightsholders with global actors who are working on meeting 30×30 targets, the discussion fostered participants’ shared understanding of rights-based and community-led approaches and helped them identify multi-stakeholder solutions to bring these approaches to life. The workshop’s deliberations are now being integrated into emerging conservation strategies at national and international levels, and RRI is planning new analyses and convenings in 2024 to shift the focus from conceptualization to implementation.

"Science shows that when our communities have strong rights and protections to our ancestral lands, we protect natural ecosystems better than anyone else. Our rights must be central to global efforts to protect Earth’s climate and biodiversity."

— Gam Shimray Indigenous Naga leader and Secretary-General of RRI partner, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)

  1. Our new policy brief on rights-based climate and conservation action identified structural constraints and proposed an action framework to support governments, development institutions, conservation organizations, and the private sector in fulfilling their commitments to Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples, local communities, and particularly the women and youth among them. The brief analyzes a broad set of challenges that rightsholders and their allies must overcome and offers pathways for rights-based interventions and best practices to mitigate risks.