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Defending Rights

Forests are home to local communities and Indigenous Peoples, including women. They have been living with the forest for centuries and guarding it. Their lands and way of life are under threat however as their territories and rights are not recognized.

The Global Forest Coalition has always identified itself as a rights-based forest policy activist group. Part of the rationale for the birth of the Global Forest Coalition was the need for a group that took the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent peoples as a starting point in the fight to protect forests.

In the name of forest conservation, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities have been forcibly relocated: moved away from their lands and territories and resettled in areas that are alien to them. This has sometimes happened with the consent, or even the involvement, of forestry conservation organizations. We particularly denounce so-called ‘Green Land Grabbing’ for false solutions to climate change like forest carbon offset projects [http://globalforestcoalition.org/about-2/redd-rights] and bioenergy [http://globalforestcoalition.org/about-2/agrofuels-bioenergy].

Women are often the main victims of projects and policies that exclude and ignore forest-dependent people. Their rights, needs and fundamental role in forest conservation and restoration should be one of the cornerstones of rights-based forest policies.

GFC believes forest conservation policies that ignore the rights, needs and role of Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities and Women violate fundamental human rights and are in conflict with the need to create support for forest protection amongst a broader community. We believe that people will ignore laws and policies that they see as elitist and fundamentally flawed. Thus both forest protection and Indigenous and human rights suffer from such an approach.

Last but not least, we work together with a large number of women’s movements in the international Women’s Major Group (WMG) on sustainable development [http://www.womenmajorgroup.org/] and on UNEP processes. GFC is one of the core group members of the women’s major group and actively involved in the UN discussions about women’s rights and sustainable development. In addition, GFC is part of The Gender & Sustainable Development Alliance which includes recognized organizations such as Women International for a Common Future (WECF) and the Gender Water Alliance. We aim to integrate gender considerations in all our other policies and activities.