Rolling back social and environmental safeguards in the name of COVID-19 | Land Portal
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Neil Sorensen,


Forest Peoples Programme supports the rights of peoples who live in forests and depend on them for their livelihoods. We work to create political space for forest peoples to secure rights, control their lands and decide their own futures.

The Tenure Facility

The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility is focused on securing land and forest rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities. We are the first financial mechanism to exclusively fund projects working towards this goal while reducing conflict, driving development, improving global human rights, and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

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The webinar Rolling back social and environmental safeguards in the name of COVID-19., organized by Forest Peoples Programme, the Tenure Facility,  Middlesex University, the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic and the Land Portal, took place on Thursday, February 18, 2021 . 



Global leaders increasingly recognize that land rights for indigenous and local communities are a prerequisite for achieving national and international goals for forest governance, food security, climate mitigation, economic development and human rights.

In 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the political context in many countries, and some governments used the pandemic as a justification for dismantling the protections gained by Indigenous and Forest Peoples. This has been particularly common in heavily forested countries where there are large indigenous communities.

In partnership with various civil society organizations, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic of Yale Law School, Middlesex University London, and local researchers have developed five country-specific reports on Brazil, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, and Perú. These reports address the following question: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, to what extent are the five most tropically forested countries rolling back social and environmental safeguards and if so, what are, or may be, the negative consequences in terms of land grabs, rights abuse and deforestation in indigenous territories.

This webinar launched the report and presented its findings to a global audience. The 90 minute session included the report presentation, a panel discussion including representatives from four countries and a Q&A with the audience. The webinar was conducted in English and Spanish.



Jonathan Watts Jonathan Watts
Global Environment Editor The Guardian




Cathal Doyle
Dr. Cathal Doyle
LM Programme
Leader and a 
Leverhulme Early
Career Fellow
at the School of Law
Middlesex University
Rukka Sombilinggi
Rukka Sombolinggi
Secretary General
Alliance of the
Camilo Niño
Camilo Niño
speaker of the
of Indigenous
Wrays Pérez

Wrays Pérez

of the
Government of
the Wampis Nation    

Bibiany Rojas Garzon

Bivyane Rojas
Lawyer and
Xingu Program
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Rolling back social and environmental safeguards: Global Report

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This crucial report demonstrates how states and other actors are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to roll back social and environmental safeguards. In doing so, they are eroding the rights of indigenous peoples in the five most tropically forested countries of the world

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Brazil: The dangers of rolling back social and environmental safeguards for indigenous and forest peoples during COVID-19

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Over the last several years, the Brazilian government has rolled back environmental and social protections, threatening ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest and the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and traditional communities. The dismantling of inspection and protection programmes in indigenous territories coupled with political neglect towards the formal demarcation of indigenous lands or the strengthening of public policies to safeguard traditional ways of life has led to social, physical and cultural vulnerability for indigenous peoples.

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Brasil: os perigos de reverter as salvaguardas ambientais e sociais para os direitos dos povos indígenas e das florestas durante a COVID-19

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Nos últimos anos, o governo brasileiro reverteu as proteções ambientais e sociais, ameaçando ecossistemas como a floresta amazônica e a subsistência de povos indígenas e comunidades tradicionais. O desmantelamento dos programas de fiscalização e proteção em territórios indígenas, aliado ao descaso político com a demarcação formal das terras indígenas ou o fortalecimento das políticas públicas de salvaguarda dos modos de vida tradicionais, tem gerado vulnerabilidade social, física e cultural para os povos indígenas.

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Las medidas de confinamiento adoptadas por el gobierno colombiano para contener la propagación del Covid-19, se han traducido en un detrimento de libertades y derechos fundamentales de las personas: restricciones de movilidad, toques de queda sin garantía de renta básica, cierre de mercados, inoperatividad de sistemas judiciales, precariedad del sistema de salud, abusos policiales, fortalecimiento de grupos armados e incremento de actividades ilegales.

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Los impactos económicos del COVID-19 han generado que el Estado peruano agudice aún más en la priorización de las actividades extractivas por sobre la atención y cumplimiento de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas. En ese sentido, el presente informe describe, a través de las medidas establecidas por el Estado, las políticas que se han impulsado en territorios indígenas, bajo el argumento de la reactivación económica, sin contemplar los efectos que éstas pueden tener a mediano o largo plazo sobre la vida, la salud y el cumplimiento de los derechos de los pueblos.

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Rollback in the time of COVID-19 - Indonesia country report

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This paper highlights the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected and disenfranchised indigenous peoples and forest communities in Indonesia. The lack of adequate protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and their territories before the pandemic has been made worse by a lack of protection during the pandemic. The challenges faced by forest communities during the pandemic show that access to land and natural resources is crucial for the survival of communities whose livelihoods depend on the forest.

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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Le présent rapport met en exergue les reculs constatés dans l’application des lois et règlementations en matière de sauvegardes et de protection des droits des communautés locales et des peuples autochtones (CLPA) en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC).

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