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IUCN Congress boosts support for Indigenous peoples’ rights

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, 9 September 2016 (IUCN) – Key decisions boosting support for Indigenous peoples’ rights have been adopted by IUCN State, government and civil society members today at the IUCN World Conservation Congress taking place in Hawaiʻi. 

In a landmark decision, the IUCN Members’ Assembly has voted to create a new category of membership for Indigenous peoples’ organisations. This will open the opportunity to strengthen the presence and role of Indigenous organisations in IUCN – a unique membership union gathering 217 state and government agencies, 1, 066 NGOs, and networks of over 16,000 experts worldwide.

“Today’s decision to create a specific place for Indigenous peoples in the decision-making process of IUCN marks a major step towards achieving the equitable and sustainable use of natural resources,” says IUCN Director General Inger Andersen. “Indigenous peoples are key stewards of the world’s biodiversity. By giving them this crucial opportunity to be heard on the international stage, we have made our Union stronger, more inclusive and more democratic.”

“This decision is historical in that it is the first time in IUCN’s history that a new membership category has been established,” says Aroha Te Pareake Mead, Chair of IUCN's Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP). “It also marks a turning point for the inclusion and full participation of Indigenous peoples in all aspects of IUCN's work. 

“For Indigenous peoples this provides an unprecedented opportunity to contribute to global policy on biocultural conservation, indigenous issues, traditional knowledge and the future direction of conservation as distinct peoples. I am proud of IUCN and its members for doing the right thing and enabling Indigenous peoples to speak for themselves as full members of the Union.”  Readmore  IUCN

Protecting the Rights of Forest-dwelling Communities: Compendium of Judgments on the Forest Rights Act

The publication, produced by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and UNDP, is a compilation of various court rulings, including the Supreme Court of India and High Courts of several states, that have strengthened the Forest Rights Act. The compendium aims to be a guide for authorities that protect the rights of such vulnerable communities . Source: UNDP in India  


State of the World's Forests 2016 (SOFO)

Forests and agriculture: land use challenges and opportunities

Serial Title: State of the World's Forests
Year of publication: 2016
Publisher: FAO
Pages: 125 p.
Job Number: I5588
Country: Costa Rica; Georgia; Viet Nam; Tunisia; Gambia; Ghana; Americas
Agrovoc keywords:forest land use; degraded forest land; agricultural landscape; landscape conservation; forest cover; food security; forestry policies; sustainable forest management; Costa Rica; Georgia; Viet Nam; Ghana; Gambia; Tunisia;

Forests and trees support sustainable agriculture. They stabilize soils and climate, regulate water flows, give shade and shelter, and provide a habitat for pollinators and the natural predators of agricultural pests. They also contribute to the food security of hundreds of millions of people, for whom they are important sources of food, energy and income. Yet, agriculture remains the major driver of deforestation globally, and agricultural, forestry and land policies are often at odds.

The State of the World’s Forests (SOFO) 2016 shows that it is possible to increase agricultural productivity and food security while halting or even reversing deforestation, highlighting the successful efforts of Costa Rica, Chile, the Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Tunisia and Viet Nam. Integrated land-use planning is the key to balancing land uses, underpinned by the right policy instruments to promote both sustainable forests and agriculture.

Read the Booklet of the State of the World’s Forests (SOFO) 2016.

Read the Flyer

See the Infographic

Visit the Sofo 2016 webpage

Read the Country Case Studies:



Conservation measures and their impact on indigenous peoples’ rights. Report to the General Assembly

The present report is submitted to the General Assembly by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples pursuant to her mandate under Council resolutions 15/14 and 24/9. In the report, the Special Rapporteur provides a brief summary of her activities since her previous report to the Assembly, as well as a thematic analysis of conservation measures and their impact on indigenous peoples' rights. 

For more info, go to this site: UNSRRIP 

When Land Is Lost, Do We Eat Coal?: Coal Mining and Violations of Adivasi Rights in India


Mining operations by India’s state-owned Coal India Limited, the world’s largest coal producer, are shutting out indigenous Adivasi communities from decisions that affect their lives, Amnesty International India said in a new report published today.

The report, “When Land Is Lost, Do We Eat Coal?”: Coal Mining and Violations of Adivasi Rights in India, traces how Coal India subsidiaries, central government ministries and state government authorities in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha failed to ensure meaningful consultation with Adivasi communities on land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement, and the environmental impacts of mines, seriously affecting their lives and livelihoods.

“The government plans to nearly double coal production by 2020, and Coal India wants to produce a billion tons of coal every year.Yet both the company and central and state governments don’t seem to care to speak or listen to vulnerable Adivasi communities whose lands are acquired and forests destroyed for coal mining,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.

“Abusive laws, poor enforcement of existing safeguards, and corporate neglect of human rights are now leading Adivasi communities to oppose the expansion of the very mines they once thought would bring employment and prosperity, until they receive remedy for violations.”

The report exposes a pattern of human rights violations in open-cast mines run by different Coal India subsidiaries: South Eastern Coalfields Limited’s Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh, Central Coalfields Limited’s Tetariakhar mine in Jharkhand and Mahanadi Coalfields’ Limited’s Basundhara-West mine in Odisha.

It is based in part on interviews with 124 affected Adivasi people across the three mine areas; village, district and state government officials from the Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha state forest departments and pollution control boards; representatives of the three Coal India subsidiaries; and local journalists, activists and lawyers.

The main findings of the report were shared with the relevant state authorities and companies, offering them an opportunity for comment. No response was received.

Abusive land acquisition

Land acquisition for Coal India’s mines is carried out under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act (CBA Act), which does not require authorities to consult affected communities, or seek the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples, as stipulated by international law. A new land acquisition law enacted in 2014 specifically exempts acquisition under the CBA Act from seeking the consent of affected families or carrying out social impact assessments.

In each of the three Coal India mines examined, the central government acquired land without directly informing affected families, or consulting them about their rehabilitation and resettlement. Frequently, the only official notice given was a declaration of the government’s ‘intention to acquire’ land in an official government gazette, which is virtually impossible to access for affected communities.

“The CBA Act undermines communities’ security of tenure. Any eviction resulting from acquisition under the Act is likely to amount to a forced eviction, which is prohibited under international law,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar, Senior Researcher at Amnesty International India.

Poor enforcement of environment and Adivasi rights laws

India’s environmental laws require state pollution control authorities to set up public consultations with local communities likely to be affected by industrial projects to give them an opportunity to voice any concerns. However public consultations conduced in the three mining areas suffered from serious flaws.


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