Vibrant social movements led by Indigenous Peoples and local communities alongside their civil society allies are the primary drivers of tenure recognition and reforms in Asia. Their struggles have brought increasing attention to Indigenous and local community rights as a development, climate, and conservation priority at both the global and local levels. However, even though Asia is home to 70 percent of the world’s Indigenous population, it still has the lowest percentage of community land ownership compared to Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa when China is excluded from the results.

In 2023, our Asia coalition pursued legal reforms in the land rights, biodiversity, and conservation sectors through a combination of research, legal advocacy, and programs in the field. Indigenous and local community youth, who hold a unique position on the frontlines of climate justice and land rights struggles, also took center stage this year. We supported Indigenous and local community youth by hosting a virtual International Youth Day celebration and published a new collaborative report showcasing youth leadership in Asia.

A view of the Tsum Nubri community land in Gorkha district Nepal. | Photo credit: Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Research and Development (CIPRED).

Here are some of our achievements from 2023.

  1. We joined forces with Indigenous and local community youth, policymakers, donors, community leaders, and environmental experts on International Youth Day to amplify the voices and perspectives of youth. We partnered with six youth-led organizations to co-organize a webinar on Empowering Indigenous and Local Community Youth for a Sustainable World. The webinar, attended by more than 500 people, demonstrated on a global scale how youth in Asia are playing a crucial role in protecting and defending the region’s lands, waters, and natural resources.
  2. Co-authored by 16 organizations spanning youth groups, Indigenous networks, and ally organizations, we published a flagship report on youth leadership in Asia. The report shows how by building a strong intergenerational bond with their communities, cultures, and ecological contexts, youth become self-motivated defenders of their collective rights. The publication, available in English and Bahasa Indonesia (with Nepali and Hindi translations forthcoming in 2024) and designed by an Indigenous youth in India, will be instrumental in further mobilizing Indigenous and local community youth in Asia and elsewhere.

"We do not call what we do conservation. It’s our daily habit and it’s who we are."

— Putu Willy Suputra A youth trekking guide and member of the Adat Dalem Tamblingan Indigenous community in Bali, Indonesia

  1. In Indonesia, we contributed to the Third National Tenure Conference in coordination with both national and international organizations. The event convened 700 participants from rightsholders’ groups and other actors engaged in tenure reform and culminated in a national consensus on how to push forward in engagements with governments. It helped grant momentum to Indonesia’s tenure movement in the recently concluded 2024 elections. With the Coalition for Tenure Justice at the helm, the conference was attended by representatives from social justice movements, rightsholder and civil society organizations, and the media, many of whom are now crucially integrating tenure reform into wider agendas for social justice across Indonesia.
Ketut Ayu is head of the Women Farmers’ Group and member of the Adata Dalem Tamblingan Indigenous community in northcentral Bali, Indonesia. The Group plants, grows, harvests, packages, and sells over 700kg of coffee every month in shops throughout Bali. | Photo Credit: Santhi Wijaya.
  1. We partnered with the Working Group for ICCAs in Indonesia (WGII) to pursue legal reforms in the biodiversity and conservation sector in Indonesia. The WGII network submitted recommendations for the National Parliament’s consideration as part of the process of amending the current Conservation Bill. The proposed amended bill recognizes and strengthens the important role Indigenous and local communities play in conservation. We also supported WGII’s participation in the joint government-civil society collaboration to develop the first official draft of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan which outlines how the Indonesian government will implement rights-based conservation policies going forward.