From remarkable land rights achievements to the devastating Amazon fires, 2019 is the year forests moved up the global climate agenda.
In part, this is due to the growing realisation that deforestation affects us all.
Yet five years after a coalition of governments, businesses, civil society organisations and Indigenous Peoples’ groups made a historic pledge to halve deforestation by 2020, analysts say that this goal is nowhere near being realised. In fact, forest loss is accelerating. If we continue to destroy the world’s tropical rainforests at the current rate, they will disappear from the planet within 100 years.
The following stories, however, show a path to a different future - one in which the people most directly affected by deforestation are at the forefront of actions to tackle it:
From the Liberian women fighting for the right to own and govern land that’s rightfully theirs, to the Guyanese Indigenous Peoples resisting companies attempting to seize their forests these stories come from different parts of the globe, but are bound by a common thread.
It is the principle that to protect forests, the rights of those who manage and live in them must be strengthened. They are the ultimate guardians of the forests, and have be at the heart of efforts to improve how they are governed.
The reportage in Our Forests Our Lives reveals concrete examples of what is being achieved in countries that the European Union (EU) has either signed, or is negotiating, Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) timber trade deals with. VPAs are a key component of the EU’s pioneering Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan (FLEGT), which aims to tackle the root causes of illegal logging, by giving forest communities and civil society a say in shaping new, more just forest laws, or clarifying those which are unclear.
This report highlights seven key elements that can improve the way forests are managed, and strengthen community ownership rights. Each of the stories focuses on one of those elements, highlighting the importance of accountability, capacity, coordination, transparency and equity in benefit sharing, gender and participation.