How Protecting Community Land Rights Can Hasten Sustainable Development Goals and Slow Climate Change  

Extreme weather conditions have dominated news reports in recent years. The United States Environmental Protection Agency predicts that anthropogenic climate change is at the heart of this. More frequent and extreme weather conditions should be expected in the future. There has been a global call to revert to sustainable practices, similar to those practiced by indigenous people, to reduce many of the human-induced climate conditions that we are experiencing today.

The United Nations highlights on its website that approximately 370 million indigenous people are scattered around the globe. Indigenous land makes up approximately 20% of the earth’s surface, and of that territory, 80% represents Earth’s remaining biodiverse land. This means that indigenous people are some of the best caretakers of the environment.

Indigenous people have practiced sustainability for many centuries. Unfortunately, indigenous land and people are being threatened by privatization, individual ownership, and land development, which are all contributing factors to climate change. In addition, biodiversity loss, pollution, and land degradation further threaten sustainable practices on indigenous land. It is critical to protect community land rights and activists. Many of them are forcibly displaced from their land and imprisoned for their efforts. Lookup Inmate is a great tool to keep track of imprisoned leaders and activists while bringing awareness to their cause.

What Are Community Land Rights?

Community land rights refer to the rights of certain communities, most notably indigenous people, to own and manage their own land and resources according to their customs and practices. The right to own indigenous land is tied to the identity of that particular community, their livelihood, and, therefore, the survival of that community.

The importance of protecting community land rights

There is a great need to protect community land rights and activists. Indigenous communities practice sustainability and sustainable farming. These communities are responsible for protecting biodiversity and, at the very least, slowing down deforestation. These sustainable practices also help to fight climate change and prevent further damage.

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations established the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. There are 17 interlinked objectives that serve as a blueprint and aim to promote world peace and prosperity for the planet and the people on it. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) tie in directly with protecting community land rights as outlined in the following sections:

  • Sustainable Development Goal One: No Poverty
  • Sustainable Development Goal Two: Zero Hunger
  • Sustainable Development Goal Five: Gender Equality
  • Sustainable Development Goal Ten: Reduced Inequalities
  • Sustainable Development Goal Thirteen: Climate Change
  • Sustainable Development Goal Fifteen: Life on Land

How do SDGs align with protecting community land rights?

When a community receives land tenure, they are able to control how investment is made in sustainable agricultural farming and other activities. This allows the community to create food security, which in turn may help to alleviate poverty, as members of the community are able to generate an income off their land. Allowing communities to work on the land they own empowers these communities to create higher standards of living while also fighting climate change by protecting biodiversity and preventing deforestation.

The very first goal highlights the need to provide access to resources for all, but especially those from poor communities. The goal is to address and alleviate poverty by 2030. The second goal deals directly with eliminating hunger through food security and improved nutrition. This is achieved when communities are empowered through land tenure.

Another way in which the SDGs align with protecting land rights and how securing land rights may help to advance the SDGs is that it highlights the importance of providing women and members of marginalized groups access to land and resources in order to generate income. Previously, women and people from marginalized groups did not have much access to land and resources. This has led to higher levels of poverty and lower standards of living among these groups. By providing these groups with access to land and resources, poverty among women and marginalized groups can be addressed and alleviated as these groups are able to become more self-sufficient.

The fifth goal not only addresses inequality, giving women access to resources and allowing women to own their own land, but women’s land rights are directly linked and highlighted as a primary source of achieving income, health, and empowerment.

Protecting the land rights of indigenous people directly addresses climate change. Indigenous people rely on sustainable farming and a sustainable way of life. This leads to reduced carbon emissions, which directly affect climate change.

The 15th goal aims to protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems. By allowing indigenous people the right to their land, the goal aims to deal directly with deforestation, desertification, and land degradation and prevent biodiversity loss.

While the goals originally adopted by the UN in 2015 are admirable, many countries find it to be challenging to meet their specific goals and deadlines, with several countries lagging far behind and not being on track with adhering to the deadlines.

Protecting Community Land Rights is more than a political movement. It is something that anyone can get involved in simply by creating awareness around it.

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