Global reviews confirm that the main direct or ‘proximate’ cause of forest destruction is commercial farming, which accounts for 80% of forest clearance in tropical countries.64 Remote sensing evidence and forest monitoring updates from Latin America and Asia confirm that large-scale (over 1,000 ha) clearance for cattle (pastures), soybeans and palm oil are primary drivers.65 Other drivers include illegal and industrial logging, cultivation of illicit crops (Latin America), mining, energy, infrastructure projects and urban expansion. Case studies highlight that roadbuilding is a major indirect driver of deforestation as access roads open up remote areas to logging, extractive industries and commercial farming [Figure 3].66

…now we will have our own government responsible for our own territory. This will allow us to defend our forests from the threats of logging, mining, oil and gas and mega dams. As every year goes by these threats grow bigger. This unity will bring us the political strength we need to explain our vision to the world and to the governments and companies…

Andrés Noningo, Wampis elder and visionary, Peru, 2015 ‘A message to the world from the Wampis,’ New Internationalist

Support and promote secure community tenure rights:

  • Set up and resource fast-track initiatives to implement local, national and international court rulings upholding community customary land rights;
  • Channel international funds directly to customary land owners for community tenure mapping, self-demarcation initiatives, and conservation efforts;
  • Recognise and support the proposals of indigenous peoples and customary landowners for the creation of community conserved forests and territories;
  • Insert dedicated and well-resourced community tenure components in global action plans and programmes seeking to eliminate deforestation and land grabs from conflict commodity supply chains;
  • Enable access to justice and create mechanisms for land restitution (as opposed to mere compensation) to communities who have suffered land and resource theft and/or degradation or FPIC violations by land administration and licensing agencies, companies or land traffickers.

Reinforce community governance and control over community forests:

  • Assist forest peoples to strengthen their own systems of self-government and administration of justice and customary law to protect community rights and sustainably manage and control their lands, territories and forest resources;
  • Empower community institutions and structures for claiming and exercising their human rights to, inter alia, their lands, resources, and culture (including the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC);
  • Encourage and support (including via funding) community initiatives to maintain, protect and revitalise forest-related traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use practices; and to develop and implement long-term sustainable livelihoods options;
  • Increase recognition of the critical contribution of forest peoples, including women, in forest protection efforts, including under national and global forest and climate policies (INDCs etc);
  • Support forest peoples to establish community-based systems for monitoring and reporting on threats to their rights and forests (including on untitled customary lands) and for asserting their participation in State and corporate led monitoring and reporting mechanisms;
  • Establish mechanisms to provide independent legal and technical support to communities affected by land conflicts, illegal deforestation and disputes with companies.

Adopt and enforce laws that secure the legal personality of our self-chosen institutions and application of customary laws and systems of land use and management based on our own knowledge and beliefs.

Palangka Raya Declaration, 2014

Reform out-dated land laws and concession systems:

  • Conduct multi-stakeholder dialogues to assess national land concession frameworks for agribusiness and extractive industries (logging, mining, hydrocarbons) against applicable international standards and country obligations to protect community tenure rights and self-governance;
  • Enable land tenure and agrarian reforms to bring national land laws and land and resource concession systems into alignment with international human rights laws and obligations;
  • Put in place moratoria on land use change permits and implement rules and regulations to protect customary land rights in land use zoning and concession allocation decisions, including protections for untitled customary lands;
  • Address land tenure insecurity through full legal recognition of the customary land rights of forest communities.

We urge the Government of Indonesia, of the Province of East Kalimantan and the District of Mahakam Hulu, as well as KomNas HAM and the Forest Stewardship Council to take urgent action to redress violations committed by PT Kemakmuran Berkah Timber (PT KBT), Roda Mas Group, which is actively logging primary forests in the Heart of Borneo against the will of the indigenous people.

Pekanbaru Resolution, Indonesia, February 2017

Implement new rights-based nature conservation paradigm:

  • Reform unjust and unsustainable ‘exclusionary’ forest conservation and protected area policies in order to uphold human rights and recognise and support forest peoples’ ability to protect and sustainably use forests and biodiversity;
  • Enable collaborative partnerships between government agencies, civil society and forest peoples to implement the new people-centred conservation paradigm based on social inclusion, good governance and respect for human rights as defined in CBD and IUCN policies.

Strengthen measures to uphold human rights and protect human
rights defenders:

  • States must impartially investigate, sanction and prevent attacks and threats against human rights defenders in a timely manner;
  • States must establish effective protection and security mechanisms to provide appropriate safety measures for human rights defenders under threat;
  • States should support human rights defenders and publicly condemn efforts to defame and discredit their actions;
  • States and companies must stop the criminalisation of land and forest defenders;
  • Facilitate and promote judicial reforms to strengthen legal redress mechanisms and access to justice for community victims of violations, including those perpetrated by the private sector;
  • Provide capacity to law enforcement and judicial officers (including judges) on human rights and their applicability in domestic cases;
  • Adopt corporate policies to implement the business responsibility to ensure protections for human rights defenders and recognise their valuable role in ensuring responsible supply chains.

Address industrial drivers and underlying causes:

  • Double efforts to address industrial drivers and underlying causes in international forest and climate interventions and payment for results schemes, including perverse incentives, weak inter-sectoral coordination, insecure tenure and lack of FPIC protections;
  • Stop global finance for major deforestation drivers via private and public international financial institutions (including loans and grants made by the World Bank Group and its financial intermediaries);
  • Undertake robust national and sub-national deforestation analyses and stop blaming poor people and forest communities for forest loss and degradation;
  • Tackle illegal land transactions and organised crime through special law enforcement and justice initiatives to sanction human rights violators, land grabbers and illegal resource users;
  • Strengthen support and implementation of existing global frameworks for combatting corruption and money laundering, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption and UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC);
  • Address unsustainable global demand and consumption patterns, including demand for illegal drugs and narcotics (reduce food waste, change diets, consumer awareness etc).

Regulate and increase transparency and compliance in global supply chains:

  • Strengthen company due diligence, compliance, monitoring and reporting mechanisms, including human rights impact risk assessments, to uphold human rights, prevent land grabs, help resolve long-standing land conflicts, and achieve deforestation free supply chains;
  • Ensure company due diligence and human rights gap assessments of national laws, as well as prior social and environmental assessments prior to finalising project design and engaging in company activities/contracts with suppliers;
  • Establish legal obligations on companies to exercise increased due care where their operations, suppliers or business dealings involve countries or sub-national jurisdictions with high levels of corruption, illegality, human rights abuse and deforestation;
  • Establish contractual obligations between States and corporate actors to uphold human rights and environmental obligations;
  • Include community rights of grievance and redress in Investor-State agreements as well as supply chain contracts;
  • Ensure that Investor-State contracts, treaties and concession instruments enable human rights protections and access to grievance mechanisms for third party victims, including through the elimination or modification of stabilisation clauses that might otherwise infringe guaranteed human rights;
  • Increase spaces for communities to influence reforms to international investment treaties limiting protections to human rights and potential access to grievance mechanisms;
  • Establish systems of independent third party verification of compliance with company human rights and zero deforestation policies;
  • Ensure corporate disclosure of suppliers of forest-risk commodities with information on geographic sources and legality compliance, including respect for human rights and land tenure standards;
  • Adopt company policies and agile mechanisms to address documented allegations of human rights abuse in supply chains, including: commitments to issue a timely public statement on the company’s response to documented breaches; disclose non-compliance protocols and policies that are used to bring its supply change partners into compliance; and state clearly the human rights benchmarks that will trigger suspension or cancellation of relationships with repeated offenders;
  • Develop new demand side and supply side legislative measures to enforce standards to eliminate human rights abuse, illegal land acquisition and deforestation from global trade flows, ensuring adequate resources for police, customs and export authorities;
  • Enable independent community monitoring of global supply chains and company performance regarding compliance with human rights, tenure and environmental standards alongside corporate commitments on human rights and zero deforestation.

Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuse.

UN Global Compact

Community leaders from Indonesia, Colombia and Peru visit Canary Wharf, London to call for greater regulation of global agribusiness trade and finance © 2016 Kingsley Uzondu , Environmental Investigation Agency.

Community leaders from Indonesia, Colombia and Peru visit Canary Wharf, London to call for greater regulation of global agribusiness trade and finance © 2016 Kingsley Uzondu , Environmental Investigation Agency.

Ensure compliance in commodity certification and increase accountability:

  • Strengthen enforcement mechanisms at all levels to apply agreed standards;
  • Train Certifying Body staff on assessment compliance with standards for human rights and customary tenure protection;
  • Remove conflict of interest risks, including for Certifying Bodies by establishing mechanisms for genuinely independent certification and auditing of compliance;
  • Improve grievance procedures to make them more agile, accessible to communities and fully independent of scheme member companies;
  • Ensure protections for complainants and whistle-blowers using commodity certification grievance procedures, where they risk being harmed after denouncing rights violations;
  • Close accountability gaps to prevent members leaving schemes when complaints are lodged against them or otherwise reorganising their corporate structures to avoid liability (e.g. dissolution, sale of subsidiary ‘problem’ companies or asset transfers). Loopholes might be closed through the introduction of innovative financial incentives e.g. setting up some sort of ‘performance bond’ or similar fiscal mechanism for all signed up member companies;
  • Align National Interpretation of commodity standards with agreed minimum protections for human rights, FPIC and land tenure security;
  • Support upward harmonisation of commodity standards and related zero deforestation policies to create minimum standards for ‘forest-risk’ conflict commodities, especially with regards to human rights and social safeguards (e.g. via initiatives like the International Accountability Framework).

Include human rights, land tenure and anti-corruption componentsin jurisdictional schemes:

  • Jurisdiction programmes for zero deforestation, commodity certification and REDD+ must include
  • integrated and well-resourced components to protect human rights, recognise and secure community customary land rights, address past human rights and tenure violations and ensure access to justice;
  • Apply human rights-based approaches to landscape zoning and land allocation, using progressive social
  • standards and community land use planning approaches;
  • Mechanisms for remedies that go beyond compensation and include but are not limited to, land restitution, restoration of environmentally-damaged lands, apologies, and future prevention, should be set up for communities who have suffered land and resource theft or destruction, or FPIC violations by companies, land traffickers and/or government land administration and licensing agencies.


Wapichan and Makushi communities march in support of Global Call to Action on Community Land Rights, Guyana, 2016 © Tom Griffiths, FPP.

Wapichan and Makushi communities march in support of Global Call to Action on Community Land Rights, Guyana, 2016 © Tom Griffiths, FPP.