Forest Peoples Programme: Respect for tenure security and human rights is essential for removing deforestation from agricultural commodity supply chains.
Tropical deforestation has been rising steadily since the start of this millennium. The production, global trade and consumption of agricultural commodities are clearly key contributing factors. The efforts at UNEA 4 to develop a resolution addressing deforestation and forest degradation related to agricultural commodity supply chains has come at the right time.
It appears, however, the draft resolution, withdrawn already, falls short of critical elements related to forest conversion. Insecure community tenure and illegal resource use, land trafficking, corruption and criminal activities on the forest frontier are not fully considered.
The resolution also fails to acknowledge that large-scale clearance of forests and illegal land acquisitions for cattle ranches, industrial farming and monoculture plantations not only cause significant harms to the land, livelihoods, food security and self-determination of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities but also encroach on the human rights of local communities, whose members often face violence, intimidation and even murder as a consequence of their efforts to protect their territories and community forests.
Due to the significant positive synergies that can be created by addressing deforestation, community tenure security and human rights issues simultaneously, we call on the resolution to explicitly recognise:
1. The severe human rights impacts associated with deforestation and agricultural commodity supply chains;
2. The vital role of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities in tackling deforestation; and
3. The UN Environment’s own policy on environmental defenders, which recognises their crucial role in protecting the world’s remaining forests and other ecosystems.
It was hoped that, the withdrawn resolution ought to set out government and private sector commitments to adopt binding measures to regulate and reform agri-commodity supply chains to eliminate land grabbing and ensure protection of the rights of forest peoples.