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Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ land rights

Farmer looking upon river


Nestlé champions Indigenous People and Local Communities by recognizing and respecting their customary land rights. 

By doing so, we are helping preserve traditional cultures and livelihoods and upholding the basic human right of self-determination – the right of a people to determine its own destiny. 

In addition, securing land rights for these groups also recognizes them as ‘forest guardians’ who play a key role in preserving our most vulnerable and precious land resources. Land rights protect them from the risks of being displaced and preserve the land they depend on for food and shelter. This guards against threats from expanding agriculture and other industries associated with deforestation and the loss of biodiversity, and safeguards forests as crucial carbon sinks.

Respecting the rights of Indigenous people 

Indigenous people, local communities and Afro-descendant peoples number around 2.5 billion globally. They customarily claim almost half of the world’s lands and forests but have legal rights to less than 20 percent of this. By securing their legal rights to the land they have lived on for centuries, we are empowering them and helping clearly define which areas must be preserved in perpetuity and which ones can be responsibly harvested.

Our approach is set out in our new Forest Positive report, which highlights how we can combat deforestation, better conserve our forests and create more resilient livelihoods for the people who live in them. Putting Indigenous people’s rights front and center is an important component in the transition to a fair and ethical food system. 

Read more in the ‘Towards a Forest Positive Future’ report (pdf, 11Mb).

People in mountain region

We stand against all forms of land acquisition that are illegal or that adversely impact local communities. We have long understood that a lack of clarity over land rights can lead to legal disputes, violent clashes and land grabs – and that this is a barrier to sustainable rural development. In 2014 we set out our approach to recognizing and clarifying rights to land and natural resources. Ever since then we have maintained that land rights that are legally and socially recognized, well-defined and enforceable are the best way to protect the human rights of people living around our factories and our suppliers’ operations.

Safeguarding the Tsay Keh Dene Nation in Canada

We are participating in a program to uphold the rights of the Tsay Keh Dene Nation in British Colombia and protect the land they live on from harvesting for pulp and paper. The Tsay Keh Dene are working to identify the most unique and critical parts of their land to conserve, in order to then agree with local industry on which parts of the land trees can be responsibly harvested. 

Securing rights for communities alongside sugar producers in Nigeria

An assessment of two of our largest sugar suppliers in Nigeria revealed we needed to secure the rights of neighboring communities and enhance dialogue between them and our suppliers. We then collaborated with the non-profit Proforest group to agree on the best way forward to enhance the sustainability of sugar production and preserve the interests of local people in the future.

Using satellites to identify risks to land rights around palm oil producers

In the Aceh province in North Sumatra, Indonesia, we’re using satellite mapping to monitor deforestation around palm oil operations. This also helps us anticipate the future risks to forests, peatlands and the rights of Indigenous peoples. The approach helps identify which suppliers to engage with and which local communities could be affected. The area is known as ‘The Last Place on Earth’, where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos also live.

Creating Shared Value and Sustainability Report