By Nicholas K. Tagliarino, World Resources Institute
Land and property rights are key to myriad development goals, from hunger to women's economic empowerment. So why are they so hard to obtain?
“Let us wake up, humankind…Let us build societies that are able to coexist in a dignified way, in way that protects life. Let us come together and remain hopeful as we defend and care for the blood of this Earth and of its spirits.”
These were the influential words of the Honduran indigenous land rights activist, Berta Caceres. She won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 for her role in organizing an opposition movementthat led a major company to abandon building a dam on the indigenous-protected Rio Gualcarque in Honduras. Less than a year later, she was assassinated at home. Tragically, Berta Caceres was one of many land rights and environmental activists murdered in recent years.
Berta Caceres’ death comes at pivotal time in history. The year 2016 marks the beginning of a new era for land rights and environmental activism after a global consensus on sustainable development was reached last year .
Secure land rights - meaning enforceable land rights that are recognized by states and others, and protected in case of challenges - are a key ingredient to achieve the objectives set by these agreements. However, as demonstrated by the brutal killings of Berta Caceres and other activists around the world, the push for secure land rights continues to face an uphill battle.
Here are four reasons why secure land rights are so critical yet so difficult to obtain: