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SOURCE: THE HANS INDIA
By Nita Bhalla

New Delhi : For as long as she can remember, Panchi Sahariya and those in her tribal community in central India have been threatened, harassed, beaten and even arrested for living on land which does not legally belong to them. But there is nowhere else to go, she says. For over 40 years, the forest village of Nibheri in Madhya Pradesh state has been home to 150 families of the Sahariya tribe and their children have been born and brought up there.

“We have no land of our own. We had no choice but to live in the jungle. We survive from the little farming we do there. But there is no comfort, there is no security,” she said. “The forest department guards come and threaten us and tell us to move. Sometimes they have even beaten us and taken our people to jail for protesting over the land.”

Sahariya is one of more than 5,000 people from India’s most impoverished communities who gathered in the capital this week to demand Prime Minister Narendra Modi bring in a law guaranteeing the rural poor the right to shelter. Despite wide recognition of the link between poverty and landlessness in India, and a slew of policies over the years aimed at helping the people secure housing, more than half of rural Indians do not have a permanent homestead.

Data from India’s 2011 Socio Economic and Caste census released last year showed that 100 million families, that is 56 percent of all rural households, were landless. Most are from low caste or indigenous communities, who have faced decades of neglect and social discrimination, and continue to live on the margins of society – partly due to a failure to enforce laws aimed at their uplift.

Social indicators such as infant and maternal mortality rates, literacy and monthly income are worse than national averages and their access to quality services such as good hospitals and schools remains a serious challenge. Homestead bill neglected After years of campaigning for land rights by the social movement Ekta Parishad which has organised multiple rallies involving thousands of homeless rural poor the government drafted legislation in 2013.

The National Rural Homestead Bill calls for a democratic and market-friendly land reform programme, providing landless families with plots of land the size of small football fields. The bill provides that titles for the land, which would be around 4,400 square metres, be registered in the name of the woman, rather than jointly by the male and female head of the household.

To ensure accountability of the local authorities, it also stipulates a time frame of five years for India’s 29 states and seven union territories to enforce the law. But the draft bill has never been presented before parliament, despite repeated promises by both the previous and current government to introduce it to lawmakers.

Activists acknowledge that land reform, like in many other countries, is a highly political issue but argue that securing tenure for the landless will help stem the rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation India currently faces. India’s towns and cities are projected to swell by an additional 404 million people by 2050, as villagers migrate to urban areas in search of opportunities and better standard of living, says the United Nations.

More significantly, experts say, land in India is the biggest predictor of poverty. Insecurity traps people in extreme impoverishment, restricts economic growth, and sparks conflict. “When women and men gain secure rights to land, they can begin investing in their land to improve their harvests and their lives,” says the land rights group, Landesa. “Further, land rights in India act as a gateway right.

When women and men gain secure rights to land, they can access a host of government services from work and nutrition programmes to agricultural extension services.” Research by Landesa suggests clarifying and strengthening land rights could increase India’s GDP by as much as 476 billion rupees  ($7 billion).

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SOURCE: ADB Blog
Written by: Jeffrey Gerobin

Fresh produce at a market in Thailand.
Fresh produce at a market in Thailand.

In our February blog poll about inclusive business, we asked readers where they believe there is the most opportunity for commercially viable solutions to the poor’s problems ahead of the 2nd Inclusive Business Forum for Asia.

Over 400 representatives of companies, social enterprises, investors, banks, business associations, and governments gathered last month at the forum, organized by ADB and 8 development partners, to discuss how private sector firms can create profitable businesses that make an impact on poor and low-income people. Inclusive business models target the market at the base of the income pyramid through affordable goods and services and decent jobs; this doesn’t mean, however, that these companies don’t turn a profit. Inclusive business is highly profitable, as inclusive business firms embrace innovation to reduce costs and enlarge their reach. Inclusive business is also part of the overall market for impact investing, estimated at over $10 billion worldwide.

The majority (37%) of our readers picked agribusiness as the sector with most potential to create inclusive business opportunities. That’s no surprise, as the majority of the low-income population live in rural areas, where poverty incidence is high and jobs are badly needed. To reduce poverty and create employment, though, inclusive business companies must operate on a large scale, so business models must be scalable and capable of providing income higher than the market rate.

Likewise, agribusiness is crucial to food security in Asia and the Pacific, which will need to boost its food production systems by 70% to feed 5.2 billion people by 2030. In particular, inclusive business firms engaging smallholder farmers are making waves. A 2015 report from Hystra noted how inclusive business firms that work with smallholders help increase the income and livelihoods of farmers through sourcing produce from them or selling products to them. These companies share technology to boost yields, make smallholders less risk-averse in terms of new business models, reward ‘early adopters,’ and integrate farmers them into the value chain.

Governments are also becoming increasingly aware of the importance of enabling the environment for inclusive business companies, especially in agribusiness. ADB has assisted the Government of the Philippines in piloting an inclusive business accreditation system where most of the companies assessed were agribusiness firms. Governments should realign their policies to encourage more companies willing to adopt inclusive business models.

28% of poll respondents encouraged inclusive business companies in Asia to focus on renewable energy. Simpa Networks, which provides affordable pay-as-you-go solar energy solutions for poor consumers in India, benefited from early ADB support to scale up its operations, and last year secured a $6 million loan from the Clean Technology Fund to expand its off-grid solar home system service to underserved markets in rural areas.

In our survey, 20% of participants noted that businesses can provide solutions to the poor’s problems and make a profit in education. An example of this is Hippocampus Learning Centers, which employs unqualified women from Indian villages and trains them to teach pre-school children and manage its learning centers. Hippocampus’ business model enables low-income consumers to receive education hitherto reserved for the urban middle classes, while low-income employees to get a new source of income. The firm in turn benefits from a low-cost workforce culturally attuned to caring for small children.

Finally, 15% of respondents chose water and sanitation as an interesting sector to do inclusive business with. ADB is currently discussing with several microfinance institutions and banks ways to provide toilets for the rural poor in India.

This blog is part of a series of blogs about inclusive business in Asia written by a wide range of experts following ADB’s 2nd Inclusive Business Forum for Asia in Manila. Visit the new Inclusive Business in Asia site here.

SOURCE: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION
By Megan Rowling

A Yawanawa Indian splashes in the Gregorio river during the Mariri Festival in the village of Mutum, in the Amazon forest of Acre state, Brazil, Aug. 11, 2014. REUTERS/Odair Leal
A Yawanawa Indian splashes in the Gregorio river during the Mariri Festival in the village of Mutum, in the Amazon forest of Acre state, Brazil, Aug. 11, 2014. REUTERS/Odair Leal
 LONDON, Feb 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Conditions are ripe for a global leap forward in recognising the land rights of indigenous people and forest communities, but investors and the public need to pressure governments to make it happen, an international network of forest policy groups said.A rising number of politicians and businesses realise that if plans to exploit natural resources and expand agricultural production are to succeed, they must consider local peoples’ concerns and ensure they benefit too, the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) said in areport released on Wednesday.

Key countries, including Indonesia, Peru and Liberia, are poised to make legal reforms or roll out policies that would give communities greater security on their land.

But political will is often lacking, RRI coordinator Andy White told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I think we are on the brink of major change, both for saving forests and recognising rights, but it’s going to require a push for governments to take that next step,” said White.

“That push we hope will come from both the major investors – the private sector – as well as the citizens of their own countries,” he added.

The report said “a critical mass” of actors, including governments, aid donors and companies, now acknowledge that secure local land rights are “a prerequisite for addressing poverty, conflict, deforestation, and the climate crisis”.

The new global climate change agreement adopted in Paris in December advocates forest protection as an important way to reduce planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide.

It also urges respect for indigenous rights, and the use of traditional knowledge as a guide for adapting to climate change.

A growing body of evidence shows communities are crucial to maintaining forests as stores of carbon, the RRI report said.

COSTLY CONFLICTS

New research by consultancy TMP Systems suggested that efforts to protect forests by turning them into reserves may be underestimating the impacts on local people.

Proposals to use international funding to set aside 12 to 15 percent of forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo as protected areas, and Norwegian aid to do the same for 30 percent of Liberia’s forests, could affect an estimated 1.3 million people through displacement or damage to their incomes, it said.

The costs of establishing those areas would be “significant”, running to hundreds of millions of dollars, suggesting the need for lower-cost approaches to keeping forests healthy and reducing emissions, the analysts said.

A separate TMP analysis of 362 disputes with communities over the use of land and resources in developing nations found that such tensions caused significant financial harm to investors in more than half the cases.

The study of conflicts in mining, energy, agriculture, transport infrastructure and forestry concluded that over 60 percent involved minorities and indigenous peoples, but in the forestry sector that number shot up to 90 percent.

White said companies, especially large multi-nationals, increasingly understand land conflicts can be expensive, leading to higher operating costs or even abandonment of some ventures.

“That is triggering government to take a more serious look at the urgency of straightening out land rights,” he said.

Free risk analysis tools have been developed to help businesses identify and address potential land issues.

TMP warned against assuming compensation can always provide a solution, because some communities will not put a price on their land and resources.

In its analysis, 93 percent of disputes were not over compensation paid to local populations, but other concerns – mainly displacement and environmental destruction.

“Investors and companies typically assume that disagreements can be resolved with money,” said TMP Systems founder Lou Munden. “But when you see that only one mining conflict out of 50 is driven by money, it makes you think differently about managing the risk.”

LIBERIA FEARS

According to the RRI report, governments in 33 low- and middle-income countries have recognised indigenous and community ownership of 388 million hectares (959 million acres) of forest land. They have “designated” an additional 109 million hectares for such communities, though that offers a more limited set of rights.

The total of almost 500 million hectares is over 30 percent of the total forest area in those countries – up from 21 percent in 2002, but below a 2015 target of 42 percent set by RRI.

If countries in the early stages of recognising community land rights at a national scale – including India and Colombia – follow through, it would add more than 100 million hectares of indigenous and community forest land, and directly benefit over 200 million people, the report said.

But in Liberia, there is concern over attempts to water down a groundbreaking Land Rights Act before it is passed.

According to Constance Teague of Liberia’s Sustainable Development Institute, 18 civil society groups recently claimed changes made to the act’s core principles “would erode rural communities’ land rights, exacerbate poverty, and potentially set up the country for further unrest”.

White said he hoped governments in Liberia and elsewhere would respond to pressure from indigenous peoples, conservation groups and businesses that are “joining forces and seeing the urgency, as well as the logic, of securing land rights”.

(Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

SOURCE: National Geographic

Criminal loggers and land snatchers are committing more murders around the world, but they almost always escape justice.

Picture of a National Cambodian Forestry Department patrolman in Bokor National Park

A Cambodian forestry department ranger patrols Bokor National Park for illegal loggers. Violence associated with illegal logging is on the rise.
PHOTOGRAPH BY PATRICK BROWN, PANOS

After a productive day—they’d encountered a gang of illegal loggers and confiscated six chain saws—the four patrollers in Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Protected Forest strung up their hammocks and settled in for the night. Come morning, they’d return to the nearest Forestry Administration station, just 2.5 miles away.

But at 1 a.m. on November 7, 2015, two intruders slipped into the campsite. They approached the hammock where Sieng Darong, 47, a leader of the Forestry Administration’s law enforcement team, lay sleeping, drew their weapons, and fired two shots—one into Darong’s head, another into his throat.

Sab Yoh, 29, a provincial police officer, was next, receiving a shot in the stomach.

The commotion woke Phet Sophoan, 30, a member of the border police, who leaped from his hammock just in time to feel a sudden, searing pain as a bullet grazed his buttock. Still, he managed to drag himself about 300 feet away, where he hid in the brush.

After the killers’ shadowy silhouettes retreated, Sophoan located the fourth member of the group, Koem Chenda, a soldier with Intervention Brigade 9’s Battalion 391. Chenda had escaped unharmed. They could hear Yoh’s groans but decided not to attempt a rescue. “We were afraid that we would be shot dead if we went back,” Sophon would tell thePhnom Penh Post. “I felt sorry for [Yoh], but I couldn’t help him.”

Hours later, when Chenda led patrolmen back to the campsite, Yoh was dead.

It was the latest in an ongoing series of violent crimes associated with illegal logging, a global contraband industry that accounts for up to 10 percent of all timber trade.

Killings and Disappearances by Month
NG STAFF
SOURCE: GLOBAL WITNESS

Impacts caused by those crimes have a global reach. Illegal logging is the leading cause of forest degradation worldwide and contributes to global warming. In 2013, for example, it resulted in an estimated 190 million tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The practice alsothreatens critically endangered species, including orangutans and Siberian tigers, as well as local people, with impacts ranging from loss of livelihoods and land to endangerment to their lives.

Global Witness, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exposing corruption and environmental abuse, with offices in London and Washington, D.C., has confirmed the killings of more than 950 forest defenders between 2002 and 2014—activists, rangers, and indigenous people. During the past five years the murder rate has risen to two a week.

The tally is certainly an underestimate. “There are still huge gaps of information, because a lot of killings aren’t reported,” says Billy Kyte, a campaigner for Global Witness. Dependable data are lacking for many countries, such as Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, China, as well as Central Asian nations.

Illegal logging is irresistible because of the high prices luxury timbers like rosewood and mahogany fetch on the international market. A cubic meter of rosewood, for instance, can sell for $50,000 in China, and in Thailand a two-meter-long plank goes for $5,000.

Picture of Cambodian forest rangers crossing a river

Cambodian forest rangers cross a river during a patrol. Last November, illegal loggers killed two patrollers in a protected forest. 
PHOTOGRAPH BY PATRICK BROWN, PANOS

China is a major destination for illicit wood. Alison Clausen, Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Madagascar director, estimates that 90 percent of Madagascar’s illegal timber winds up in China. A World Wildlife Fund report found that between 2004 and 2011, China imported two to four times more oak timber from the Russian Far East than was legally permitted.

Windfall illicit profits have spurred a logging frenzy in numerous countries, including Thailand, where Thai nationals and Cambodians sneak into national parks near the Thai-Cambodia border. They sometimes carry AK-47s, and they often get into altercations with Thai forest rangers.

 

13 Years of Killings and Disappearances of Environmental Defenders
At least 991 activists, forest rangers, or indigenous leaders have been killed in land related crimes, according to Global Witness.
Data as of January 5, 2016
MaleFemaleGender unknownKillingsDisappearances
WHO WERE THE VICTIMS?
CHIQUI ESTEBAN, JOHN TOMANIO, NG STAFF
SOURCE: GLOBAL WITNESS

“We’d like to see the government step up and treat this as a national security issue—which it is,” said Anak Pattanavibool, country director for WCS’s Thailand program. “Unknown armed groups of Cambodians are coming into our country and smuggling out illegally cut trees.” Between 2008 and 2015, according to Pattanavibool, 54 Thai park rangers were killed, and 61 wounded.

Government Complicity

Global Witness began keeping its grim statistics after Chut Wutty, an environmental investigator, activist, and reporter in Cambodia, was shot by a military police officer in 2012. Wutty, who was accompanied by two journalists, had been escorting the reporters to logging sites when he was killed.

His death made international headlines, but, according to Global Witness, within days the government dropped its investigation into his murder. Since 2010, three other journalists in Cambodia have also been found killed; two were reporting on illegal logging, the other on illegal fisheries. In November 2015, Reporters Without Borders, a nonprofit organization based in Paris, named Cambodia the most dangerous country for an environmental reporter.

In the days following Darong and Yoh’s murder, six illegal loggers with alleged military ties, and a soldier, were arrested. No charges have yet been made. According to Steve Mecinski, a law enforcement technical advisor for the World Wildlife Fund-Cambodia, “This matter becomes rather complex as media sources suggest high government officials and authorities’ involvement.”

According to the Phnom Penh Post, “the military is well known in Preah Vihear to be responsible for logging and poaching in protected areas, according to multiple sources.”

Picture of Cambodian forest rangers patrolling Bokor National ParkCambodian rangers monitor Bokor National Park’s forests. Illegal logging accounts for up to 10 percent of global timber trade.
PHOTOGRAPH BY PATRICK BROWN, PANOS

A source in Cambodia who asked not to be named out of concern about safety says it’s widely accepted, but rarely discussed, that rogue Cambodian military units are heavily involved in illegal logging throughout the country. “Military-connected cartels linked to illegal logging crimes operate with impunity,” the source told National Geographic.

The Cambodian Ministry of National Defense and the National Press Room did not respond to requests for comment about these allegations.

Funds generated from those activities—estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year—are said by the source to support the ruling party.

“In deeply corrupt countries such as Russia, Laos, and Cambodia, illicit timber extraction has become an important part of the state management system,” says Denis Smirnov, a consultant with more than 20 years experience in forest conservation, including ten years as head of WWF-Russia’s Amur-Heilong Ecoregion forest program. He now specializes in illegal logging and deforestation in Cambodia. “When government agencies are involved, you’re not protected.”

Brazil 454; Honduras 111; Philippines 84; Colombia 80; Peru 57; Others 205
Killings and Disappearances by Country
NG STAFF
SOURCE: GLOBAL WITNESS
 For example, in the Bajo Aguan land conflict in Honduras, in which environmental campaigners clashed with companies converting forests to palm oil plantations, between 90 and 120 protestors were killed from 2010 to 2013. According to Human Rights Watch, only seven of those deaths resulted in a trial, and none ended in convictions. Globally, “the vast majority of these crimes appear to go unpunished,” says Billy Kyte.

Kyte uses the word “appear” because information is thin. “There’s no available data on impunity rates, as this is a research task that would require global networks of people getting information directly from prosecutors’ offices in every country,” he says. “It is a herculean task to do this globally.”

Nevertheless, with pro bono help from in-country law firms, Kyte and colleagues are working to identify best practices for ensuring accountability for killings in Honduras as well as Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica, and Uruguay.

For now, criminals can be brazen. In December 2015, illegal loggersdragged mock-up coffins bearing the names of Peruvian forestry inspectors through the streets of Iquitos—a spectacle meant to send a warning following recent crackdowns involving shipments of Peruvian Amazon timber to the U.S.

And earlier last year, Darong, one of the two Cambodians murdered in Preah Vihear Protected Forest last November, received a call from the soldier who was later arrested in connection with his shooting. The man had said he would shoot Darong if he continued to confiscate illegal logging equipment.

“This is a very dangerous job,” Darong said at the time. “I’m worried that it will take the death of a patrol team member before the dangers of our work will be taken seriously.”

 

Targeting Community Leaders

Indigenous people who protest illegal logging or seizures of their land are frequent victims. Global Witness found that of the 116 people killed defending territory in 2014, 47 were from indigenous communities.

The criminals often target community leaders—a strategy aimed at spreading fear and silencing people. In September 2015 in the Philippines, the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani Forces allegedly set fire to a community building and told residents to leave or face a massacre. According to numerous media sources and human rights groups, Magahat-Bagani and other paramilitary groups work with the Philippines’ military to acquire indigenous lands for mining.

The Observers, an eyewitness site run by France 24, an international news television channel based in Paris, reports that most villagers escaped unharmed, but according to residents, men from Magahat-Bagani singled out three villagers, including a teacher, a tribal leader, and an indigenous rights activist, all of whom were involved with protesting conversion of local lands for mining.

The schoolteacher was later found dead in one of his classrooms, while Observers, Global Witness, and other news sources say that the other two men were gunned down in front of community members. Soldiers from the military’s 36th infantry battalion were allegedly in town that day but are said to have done nothing to stop the violence.

Picture of Cambodian forest rangers patrolling a river

These Cambodian rangers are on the lookout for timber thieves. Between 2002 and 2014, criminals killed more than 950 forest defenders around the world.   
PHOTOGRAPH BY PATRICK BROWN, PANOS

Such crimes are not confined to the Philippines. In Latin America especially, says Jeremy Radachowsky, WCS’s director of Mesoamerica and the Western Caribbean, “park staff become afraid to push for enforcement, prosecutors become afraid of investigating, and even judges are threatened and intimidated. In many cases, threats are also combined with some kind of bribe, making it very difficult for someone to say no.”

In Brazil’s eastern Amazon rain forest, one leader of the Ka’apor indigenous community recently told the nonprofit group Survival International, “There have been constant death threats against us [by illegal loggers] for a long time. Now they’re even killing to intimidate us. We don’t know what to do, because we have no protection. The state does nothing.”

But Mônica Machado Carneiro, an expert from the press office of FUNAI, the Brazilian governmental body responsible for indigenous peoples’ affairs, said in an email that FUNAI and other government institutions are aware of the situation and are actively working to reduce illegal logging and prevent crimes against indigenous people.

The U.S., Europe, and Australia have enacted legislation aimed at combating illegal timber imports, but other countries with large appetites for timber—including Japan and China—have weak provisions. In China, for instance, Global Witness reports that the government is not playing an active role in monitoring companies working in the forest sector and does not have legislation specifically prohibiting the import of illegal timber.

“So far, I don’t think there’s enough pressure to get China to care about this,” Pattanavibool says. “It’s causing serious problems in other countries, but they don’t see that link.”

“Without international and market pressure, nothing will change,” Smirnov adds.

For now, individual forest defenders often remain one of the only obstacles between illegal loggers and stolen trees. “They’re doing all of humanity a huge favor by putting their lives on the line,” Radachowsky says.

In Cambodia, Phet Sophoan says that as soon as his wound heals, he plans to return to the forest. Likewise, Yuri Melini, an activist in Guatemala who has been shot seven times, continues his work ensuring the rights of indigenous communities.

These courageous people know the risks. “I am afraid, I have fear, but my fear won’t make me be quiet,” José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva, an activist in Brazil, said in a TedX talk in 2011, shortly before masked gunmen fatally shot him and his wife. “As long as I have the power to walk, I will be denouncing all of those who are harming the forest.”

 

Rachel Nuwer is a freelance science journalist who regularly contributes to outlets such as the New York Times, Smithsonian, Scientific American,and others. She lives in Brooklyn. Follow her @rachelnuwer

 

SOURCE: MONGABAY
by Morgan Erickson-Davis, Mongabay Staff Writer

A new report warns that conflict between companies and local groups in areas with insecure land tenure can be harmful for both parties.

  • Analysts find that most conflicts that occur between development projects and local communities involve situations in which the communities lack rights to their land.
  • These disputes could damage the financial bottom line of an operation, which may scare off future investment in a region.
  • The report’s authors say that this could serve as a wakeup call to governments, and provide further incentive to grant communities tenure to the land on which they have been living and depending for generations.
Research has shown that land held by indigenous and local communities tends to be more effectively protected from human-driven changes like deforestation than land managed by governments or private entities. However, these communities lack rights to nearly 75 percent of their global lands. Not only is this deficit putting wildlife habitat at risk, researchers say, it also is stymying the fight against poverty, hunger, and climate change.

Now, a new analysis adds another beneficiary of securing land tenure for local communities: corporate investment.

A report released today discusses how conflicts between industry and local communities in contested areas can be harmful not just for the communities that live in and depend on them, but for the private sector players, as well. The authors write that these conflicts may dissuade investors from backing development projects.

Analysts from Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), an NGO, and TMP Systems, a U.S. and Philippines-based consultancy, looked at 360 conflicts centered in development projects such as mining, agriculture, and infrastructure in key countries around the world. They found that more than 60 percent involved insecure land tenure. When it came to the forestry sector, that number rose to 90 percent.

While the amount of forestland officially recognized as belonging to indigenous groups and local communities has been rising in recent years, so has “designated” land, over which local people have limited control.

“Our analysis shows that a significant number of governments have begun to designate forest lands that impose limits on local people’s ability to manage the land, or control how it is used,” said RRI’s Andy White in a press release. “This is a half-measure that poses a significant risk to the lives and livelihoods of forest peoples and the health of our planet. It undermines commitments made by governments at the UN climate summit in Paris, and by companies that signed on to the New York Declaration on Forests. The rights of local peoples must come first if we hope to achieve any of these global development goals.”


A Kwamala village in Suriname. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

Commercial natural resource development doesn’t just occasionally happen on land occupied by local people. A previous analysis by RRI and TMP systems released last year found that of the nearly 73,000 such projects taking place in eight emerging market countries, nearly all were occurring in areas inhabited by local communities and indigenous groups.

The analysts were surprised to learn that money wasn’t usually the deciding factor when conflicts arose. Rather than disputes over compensation paid to communities, other issues such as damage to the environment and restricted access to resources took precedence 93 percent of the time.

“These results were really unexpected. Investors and companies typically assume that disagreements can be resolved with money, because that’s often how business issues over things like intellectual property or employment disputes are resolved. But when you see that only one mining conflict out of fifty is driven by money, it makes you think differently about managing the risk,” said TMP Systems founder Lou Munden. “It means the primary goal is not for an operator to figure out what the local population needs to be paid, but instead, how to determine what factors drive their opposition to the project, and make a calculated assessment about whether those issues can be addressed.”

These conflicts can also damage the financial outcomes of development projects – so much so, that operations may need to shut down, according to Munden, adding that “these risks are significant enough to change the calculus of investing in emerging markets. And they suggest investors are confronting a substantial problem.”

This “substantial problem” could serve as a wakeup call to governments, the analysts suggest, and provide further incentive to grant communities tenure to the land on which they have been living and depending for generations.

“We’re now in a moment where private investors have to decide how to invest their money to best achieve their commitments to stop deforestation and respect rights,” White said. “Governments that want to attract these investors have to ensure that local peoples’ rights are legally defined and respected in order to ensure that companies do not incur financially painful and reputation-damaging tenure related risks. It benefits governments too.

“Efforts to mitigate risk and meet deforestation commitments can only succeed if customary land rights are taken into account.”

 

Citation:

  • Rights and Resources Initiative. 2016. Closing the Gap: Strategies and scale needed to secure rights and save forests. Washington, DC: Rights and Resources Initiative.

 

 

 

SOURCE: WRF

Members of the Technical Working Committee (National Committee) in the Philippines, along with dozens of allies and partners attended the Knowledge and Learning Market-Policy Engagement Programme conference (KLM-PE), bearing the theme “IYFF+1”, held in November 2015 in Quezon City, Philippines.

At the conference the achievements, progress, challenges and commitments of the International Year of Family Farming contained in the Declaration of Quezon City were discussed, in addition to showing the commitment of both, organizations of Family Farming and the Government, to continue the work done during the International Year of Family Farming.

In this way, recommendations and commitments such as the promotion and development of a resilient agriculture, strengthening family farmers markets and the agri-cooperatives were made. Another outstanding proposal is the institutionalization of the National Committee of Philippines and the commitment to support the declaration by the General Assembly of the United Nations of the Decade of Family Farming.

cid:image005.jpg@01D15D9F.0BC6DBA0

SOURCE: Kapaeeng Foundation

On 23 January 2016, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad’s Gaibandha Unit and Sahebganj-Bagdafarm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee jointly staged a mass gathering in front of Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka demanding rescue of 1842.30 acres of acquired land. Hundreds of indigenous and Bengali farmers of Gaibandha took part in the demonstration.

It is learnt that the demonstration was staged to demand restoration of the right to land of farmers from 20 villages whose 1842.30 acres of lands were acquired by the erstwhile Pakistan government in the mid-1950s to grow sugarcane for Rangpur (Mahimaganj) Sugar Mills under Gobindaganj in Gaibandha district. At that time, residents of 15 indigenous villages and five Bengali villages were evicted. As per acquisition contract, if the sugar mill shuts and the land is not used for cultivating sugarcane anymore, authority must handover the lands to the land owners. Because these lands are currently being used for cultivation of other crops, and as the authorities shut the mills in 2004, around 400 farmers, most of who belong to indigenous communities have put forward the demand to give their farm lands back.

It is worth mentioning that on 31 March 2004 production of Mahimaganja Sugar Mill was closed due to corruptions, mismanagement of authorities and damage of mill. But the terms of the agreement are violated by the cultivation of rice, wheat, corn, tobacco, potatoes, mustard, etc in the property instead of sugarcane and Mahimaganja Sugar Mill has provided the lease of the property to influential individuals and racketeers. In this situation indigenous and marginalised famers who has lost land have been applied to the Government several times to get back the acquired 1842.30 acre property. Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) of Gaibandha district visited Shahebganj-Bagdafarm for spot investigation on 30 March 2015. Assistant Commissioner (Land) and Surveyor of Gobindaganj upazila were present during the investigation. They have listened the hearing of Managing Director, General Manager of Rangpur Sugar Mill and accusers.

Rangpur Sugar Mills authorities said that allegations are confirmed after reviewing the applicants statements and documents submitted by the applicants. On 21 June 2015 Additional Deputy Commissioner submitted a report on this regard.  The record no. was 05.55.3200.030.00.001.15-41. Sugar Mill authorities mismanagement, corruption and irregularities has been exposed to the locals at different times. To hush these crime racketeers group and influential threatening, intimidating and harassing the villagers and keep conspiracy going on. As a result leaders of Shahebganj-bagadafarma Committee are living under fear of attack.

Pankaj Bhattacharya, president of Oikya NAP delivered his speech in the mass gathering as chief while it was presided over by Philimon Baskey, leader of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad’s Gaibandha Unit. Syed Abul Maksud, noted columnist and researchers; Sazzad Zahir Chandan, leader of Communist Party of Bangladesh; Robindranath Soren, president of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad; Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum; Dipayon Khisa, leader of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), among others, addressed the demonstration. The demonstration was moderated by Suvash Chandra Hembram, office secretary of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad.

Eminent politician Pankaj Bhattacharya said that according to the law, the mill has to surrender the land to the government and the government has to return the land to the original owners.” He also stated that if the government does not take initiatives to return land to the owners, they would wage a greater movement and the aggrievedfarmers are ready to sacrifice their lives for rescuing the land.

Columnist Syed Abul Maksud said, the state has violated the basic human rights by grabbing the lands. He also mentioned that the government proved them as promise-breaker as they did not comply with the agreement with the farmers. He urged the government to form a judicial committee to return the land to the farmers.

Robindranath Soren, President of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad said, “people of 15 indigenous villages and five Bengali villages of Sahebganj-Bagdafarm area have become landless and jobless as the mill authority illegally leased out some parts of the land to influential persons.” He also added that indigenous peoples want to cultivate on their own lands. The protesters later started off a rally from Central Shaheed Minar that ended up in front of National Press Club, where they staged a human chain for the same cause.

Earlier, on 30 August 2015, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad, Sahebganj-Bagdafarm Land Rescue Action Committee (Sahebganj-Bagdafarm Bhumi Uddhar Sangram Committee) and Kapaeeng Foundation jointly organized a press conference and human chain for rescuing 1842.30 acres land from Rangpur (Mahimaganj) Sugar Mills ltd authority in Rampur, Sapamara, Madarpur, Narangabad and Chakrahimpur mouza area under Gobindaganj upazila in Gaibandha district and demanded to return those ancestral land to the victims at Reporters unity in Dhaka.