Kiriri women walk through their ancestral land, Bahia, Brazil (2016). In 1995, after years of fighting for their rights, the Kiriri indigenous people took back their ancestral land.

Kiriri women walk through their ancestral land, Bahia, Brazil (2016). In 1995, after years of fighting for their rights, the Kiriri indigenous people took back their ancestral land. ©IFAD/Lianne Milton/Panos

Land rights are key to sustainable development

Secure land rights in Amazon bring billions in economic and climate benefits, according to the World Resources Institute.

Analysis of Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia finds land rights for indigenous communities are key to sustainable economic development, slowing deforestation and curbing climate change, the World Resources Institute (WRI) reported in October 2016.

Previous WRI research found that when indigenous peoples and communities have secure rights to land, both deforestation rates and carbon emissions in those lands often go down significantly. In its new report Climate Benefits, Tenure Costs: The Economic Case for Securing Indigenous Land Rights, matching analysis data show that the average annual deforestation rates in Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia were significantly lower in tenure-secure indigenous forests than in similar areas without secure tenure: 35 per cent lower in Bolivia, 40 per cent lower in Brazil, and 50 per cent lower in Colombia.

Building on this analysis, the authors calculated the economic value of carbon and other ecosystem-services benefits of secure indigenous lands in the Amazon and found billions of dollars in value.

  • Countries around the world can slow deforestation and reduce emissions by making a low-cost, high-benefit investment in secure land rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
  • Total estimated benefits of securing indigenous lands in Brazil: USD 523 billion –1.165 trillion, Bolivia: USD 54–119 billion, and Colombia: USD 123–277 billion over the next 20 years, when factoring-in global carbon benefits and ecosystem conservation.
  • Secure land rights protect forests: new analysis shows average annual deforestation rates inside tenured indigenous forests were 2-3 times lower than outside such forests in Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia from 2000-2012. Yet Indigenous Peoples and communities globally have secure tenure for only 10 per cent of their lands.
  • Although protecting indigenous land rights can help meet national emissions reduction commitments to the Paris agreement, only 21 of 197 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) mention community-based land tenure and only one set a measurable target for the expansion of secure tenure rights.


(WRI/ile)