Illegal logging and extraction of minerals, oil, and natural gas frequently threatens indigenous people and their traditional ways of life. Many mining companies actively seek to access isolated and unexploited areas that are rich in natural resources. Such areas often overlap with indigenous peoples’ lands. The UN declaration on indigenous peoples’ rights states that indigenous people cannot be forcibly removed from their land. No relocation is permitted unless those affected give their consent in advance and based on all available information, according to the principles of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). These principles are also included in the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention 169, which many countries have ratified. Despite this, governments in some countries ignore these rights and grant concessions to extractive companies, often after dubious processes and without prior consent of affected indigenous people.
Indigenous people around the world
Indigenous people make up about five per cent of the world’s total population and number around 370 million across some 90 countries. Of these, 60 million people are almost entirely dependent on forests for their livelihoods. Their traditional lands make up almost 20 per cent of the world’s total land area. Source: World Bank
Indigenous people lose access to land and livelihood on Borneo
Logging of Borneo’s rainforest has been described as one of our generation’s most serious environmental crimes. Logging, palm oil plantations, mining, and hydropower activities have long had extensive negative impacts on indigenous peoples’ land and human rights in Borneo. Land concessions have been granted to companies and investors for projects on indigenous people’s traditional land, without indigenous people being informed or correctly consulted. Traditional livelihoods have been hard hit when entire communities have been forcibly removed. Defenders of human rights and environmental activists who attempt to protect the rights of indigenous people have been threatened, arrested, and murdered. In 2016, an older women from the village of Long Teran Kanan told Swedwatch how they lost their land:
“They came here without having consulted us. They came with heavy machinery driven by Indonesian workers to chop down our gardens and trees. I was scared and began to cry.”