Global Challenge, a Global Opportunity

Forests cover close to 30 percent of the world’s land area, and more than a billion people rely on forests to a significant extent for their food, fuel and income.

An estimated 350 million indigenous and tribal peoples are at least partly dependent on forests, including some 60 million who are substantially dependent on forests for their subsistence and livelihoods. Forests are also particularly important to poor women, who shoulder much of the burden for hauling wood and collecting and marketing forest products.

Dominant models of forest industry and conservation have often exacerbated poverty and social conflicts and have precluded pro-poor economic growth. The lack of clear rights to own and use forest land, develop enterprises, and trade in forest products has driven millions of forest dwellers to poverty and encouraged widespread illegal logging and forest loss.

The world will not meet national and global goals to reduce poverty and protect the environment unless poor peoples’ rights to land and resources are strengthened. Neither will the world effectively mitigate or adapt to climate change without clarifying local tenure and governance. The next two decades are critical–both for the poor and for the forests.

There are reasons for optimism. Organizations of indigenous peoples and forest-dwelling communities are gaining voice and opportunity, and after decades of limited action many countries are beginning to consider far-reaching legal and policy reforms. There is a major opportunity to advance the rights and livelihoods of forest peoples by establishing the institutional foundations for sustained conservation and forest-based economic development.

Who We Are

The Rights and Resources Initiative is a global coalition of international, regional and community organizations engaged in conservation, research and development. Together, we are working to encourage greater global commitment and action on pro-poor tenure, policy and market reforms.

The RRI coalition is formed by a group of core Partners who conduct work in specific areas of their regional and thematic expertise. Partners also engage with a wide group of collaborators who participate in and support RRI activities around the world. RRI is a strategic coalition that goes beyond the traditional set of international development actors to involve a wide spectrum of organizations, each of which provides a critical perspective in the larger chain of actors necessary to advance change.

Learn more about RRI Partners and collaborators under “Who We Are” in the menu at left.

Our Mission

Our mission is to promote greater global action on pro-poor forest policy and market reforms to increase household and community ownership, control and benefits from forests and trees.

Core Beliefs

Based on our experience, we find that empowerment and asset-based development are part of a process that is dependent on a set of enabling conditions, including security of tenure for access to and use of natural resources. As a coalition of diverse and varied organizations, RRI is guided by a set of core beliefs.

  • It is possible to alleviate poverty, conserve forests and encourage sustained economic growth in forested regions. For this to happen, the rights of communities in forest areas must be strengthened. Forest peoples must have rights to forests and trees, rights to participate fully in markets, and rights to participate in the political processes that regulate forest use.
  • The next few decades are critical. We are in an historic moment where there can be either dramatic gains or losses in the lives, rights, and well-being of forest peoples and in the conservation and restoration of the world’s threatened forests.
  • It is clear that progress on the necessary tenure and policy reforms require constructive participation by communities, governments and the private sector. This will also require credible new data and analysis of forest tenure, policies and mechanisms for sharing knowledge.
  • The two Millennium Development Goals focusing on poverty reduction and environmental sustainability will not be met in many landscapes unless forest tenure and rights are significantly reformed and strengthened.
  • There are growing opportunities for forest peoples and rural communities to benefit from forest markets, and there are an increasing number of national actors and policymakers eager to share experiences.

These core beliefs form the basis for the RRI focus on rights and governance, and the foundation for our programs and activities.

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