Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Livelihoods

Indigenous peoples, traditional communities and other forest-dependent communities are important partners and allies in the fight to slow climate change. Indigenous peoples (IP) and traditional communities (TC) own or have designated use rights to approximately 18% of the world’s tropical forests and maintain 20% of total above ground carbon storage in the world’s major tropical forest regions put together (Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mesoamerica, Amazon Basin). In these tropical forest regions, climate change mitigation and forest conservation is intricately linked to the rights and livelihoods of the indigenous peoples and traditional communities.

While these forest communities are increasingly recognized as key partners for forest conservation, often governments have struggled to recognize their rights, help them defend their lands from outsiders, consult them and generally improve their livelihoods.

There is a need, and opportunity, to find better and faster ways of recognizing indigenous peoples and forest communities’ land rights and human rights, engaging these actors in decision-making processes, and replicating the government-community partnerships that have been pioneered in the State of Acre, Brazil and elsewhere.

  • Indigenous and traditional communities manage about 18% of the world’s tropical forests

  • IP & TC in many regions have successfully slowed deforestation through protection of forest boundaries and low-intensity land use

  • Broad donor commitment to seeing forest conservation benefits flow to IP & TC represents an important opportunity


Earth Innovation Institute seeks to better integrate indigenous and local communities into climate change mitigation strategies and to bring more benefits to those on the frontlines of forest conservation for their role in climate change mitigation, while facilitating greater control over those benefits to meet their needs and aspirations.

We do this through partnerships between indigenous peoples and traditional communities and local governments in tropics. We work to secure a seat at the decision-making table for indigenous and community representatives and to improve the capacity of local governments to address the barriers currently hindering the participation of IP and TC and slowing the stream of benefits to these communities.

Together, we are advancing a common agenda with governments, indigenous peoples and local communities to secure the rights and livelihoods of forest guardians while slowing climate change. We believe that the future of climate change mitigation and adaptation will run on the power of partnerships.

Additional video on our work with indigenous and traditional communities in Acre, Brazil: Voices from Acre

And videos from indigenous Innovators Javier Kinney and Mina Setra: