Forest and Farm Facility

From Partners

The European Union’s environment committee decided this month to include protections for Indigenous peoples and other forest defenders in a proposed regulation on deforestation. It voted overwhelmingly to direct companies that seek to place products on the EU market to respect international standards on customary land ownership rights, as well as the right of communities to consent to, or reject, investments that would affect them or their way of life. If adopted by the European Parliament in September, two of the EU’s three legislative bodies will have voted in favour of creating obligations for companies to respect Indigenous peoples’ rights.

As negotiations intensify ahead of the UN biodiversity and climate conferences in late 2021, the time is now to recognise Indigenous peoples and local communities as central to sustaining the diversity of life on Earth. One of the biggest opportunities to catalyse transformative changes from local to global levels is to support Indigenous peoples and local communities to secure their human rights, and particularly their rights to self-determined governance systems, cultures and collective lands and territories. Although there are no panaceas, this is arguably a key missing link in efforts to address the biodiversity and climate crises and ensure a safe, healthy and sustainable planet for all.

This report is dedicated to Ghanimat Azhdari (1983-2020), a young and passionate leader from the Qashqai tribal confederacy in Iran.

In analysing a pool of 40 contracts, this research takes an agency perspective to examine the extent to which producers have a voice in contracting and related policy processes; how contracts affect options for rural producers; whether buyers’ obligations (and means for producers to enforce them) create opportunities for farmers to exert agency; and how arrangements affect producers’ ability to respond to risk. The findings provide pointers for enhancing rural producer agency at local to global levels.