Strengthening Land and Resource Rights of Indigenous Peoples

This newly-revised research paper from USAID discusses the key issues, opportunities, and recommendations for strengthening the land and resource rights of Indigenous Peoples (IP). Despite occupying 20 percent of the world’s territory, IP often have weak claims on land and resource rights – which are frequently challenged by rising demand for land, increasing population pressure, and global climate change – and are among the most vulnerable groups in the world. IP comprise one-third of the world’s poor and live an average of 20 years less than the nonindigenous population. Securing rights to land and other natural resources is essential for projects, laws, and policies that aim to improve human development outcomes for these populations.

Policy makers seeking to improve the livelihoods IP and reduce land-related conflict should consider the following recommendations for strengthening land and resource rights of IP:

  • Support locally generated efforts to strengthen indigenous peoples’ land and natural resource rights
  • Incorporate collective tenure into land policy as an appropriate alternative for indigenous peoples
  • Avoid creating conflicting claims
  • Work with conservation organizations to enhance recognition of and respect for indigenous peoples’ land tenure and resource rights
  • Build support for indigenous peoples’ land and natural resource tenure into REDD+ and other global climate change investments
  • Integrate indigenous peoples’ land tenure and resource rights into related food security, livelihood, and governance programs
  • Support indigenous customary tenure, access, and allocation of water rights in policies and projects

To apply these strategic recommendations most effectively in any local situation, it is essential to maintain awareness of evolving land issues of indigenous peoples at global and national levels.