CBI Under Commitment 5


CBI 5: Secure Territorial Rights for Indigenous Peoples


Advancing Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights Recognition Through Evidenced-Based Advocacy

In Asia, some 250 million Indigenous People (IPs) are custodians of customary, participatory land use and tenure systems. As well as being a UN-recognised human right, customary use of these lands has enormous potential for mitigating and adapting to climate change. In many countries, these lands are under threat from private interests ranging from resource extraction to large-scale land acquisitions, while the traditional tenure systems that would protect them are ignored by governments. The collective and sustained struggles of IPs throughout Asia have led to the passing of laws that nominally protect their rights to their land and resources, but enforcement is rare and dispossessions have not ceased. Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by land rights violations, losing their traditional role in natural resource management and becoming increasingly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.


  • Stronger capacity of five members of the initiative on participatory mapping.

  • Two communities trained on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software (in Kankana-Ey, Northern Philippines and Subanen, Southern Philippines), generating community data for advocacy and engagement with local and national government agencies, including the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

  • Contributed to the work of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for the SDGs, through advocacy events held at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), and the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development.

  • National campaigns in Malaysia, Cambodia, and Nepal as part of the Land Rights Now global mobilisation, together with indigenous local partners and other land rights champions.


Pursuing Community Resource Rights in Africa

The indigenous population of Africa is estimated at around 50 million people, including hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and some small farmers. Indigeneity in Africa is not defined by aboriginality or “who came first”, but by self-identification, with a defining characteristic for most peoples being the importance of accessing traditional lands in order to maintain a particular way of life. Most African countries do not have laws or policies regulating the relationship between IPs, governments, and investors, which has led to numerous violations of IPs’ internationally recognised rights.

All too often, land rights defenders have been persecuted by the very governments that are meant to defend them. Foreign direct investment (FDI), mega-projects, and so-called nature reserves have excluded IPs from many of their traditional lands, compromising their way of life and their cultural survival. IPs in Africa are currently working to strengthen joint platforms that will give them tools to defend their right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), as well as to access and benefit sharing. A joint action plan developed by IPs’ representatives from 11 countries for engaging with key decision makers, frameworks, and mechanisms led to the CBI “Pursuing Community Resource Rights in Africa”.


  • Fifty indigenous leaders from 15 countries trained on access and benefit sharing and FPIC.

  • A continent-wide solidarity movement of Indigenous Peoples on land and territorial rights, with the CBI working group involving a network of 25 organisations reaching 12 countries.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Plan to Promote Land Rights for Indigenous Peoples and Afro-Descendants Focuses on Self-Government, Secure Tenure and Access to Collective Lands

IPs’ land rights are formally recognised in most of Latin America, where 12 countries have recently reformed their constitutions, 14 countries have signed  Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, also known as ILO-convention 169 (a forerunner of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), and millions of hectares of land are titled as collective property of IPs. However, governments have often been unable, or unwilling, to enforce their own laws in defence of IPs and Afro-descendants facing threats to their land from corporations. For the 45 million IPs living in the region, economic marginalisation, human rights abuses, and the threat of dispossession have created a rift between progressive legal frameworks and the reality on the ground.  

For this reason, the ILC working group on IPs in Latin America has identified government agencies as the primary target of advocacy, where catalytic interventions benefiting indigenous organisations can produce the greatest impact. ILC’s plan to promote their land rights focuses on self-government, secure tenure, and access to collective lands.


  • More than 500 leaders and representatives have been trained on 3D participatory mapping in Nicaragua (CADPI) and gender-sensitive mapping of the Zapotalito territory in Oaxaca, Mexico (FIMI)

Global Achievements under CBI 5

  • ILC has been recognised, through its role in the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues (IASG), as a relevant partner working with UN agencies to advance implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) via partnerships with the ILC network. This includes partnerships on national policy dialogues, led by IFAD, on land indicators, led by FAO, and on indigenous youth.