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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, upholding the basic human right of self-determination – the right of a people to determine their own destiny – and enshrining a crucial component in the transition to a fair and ethical food system. 

Land rights protect people and communities from the risk of being displaced from expanding agriculture and other industries associated with deforestation and preserve the land they depend on for food and shelter. For communities living in or close to forests, securing land rights also recognizes them as ‘forest guardians’ who play a key role in preserving our most vulnerable and precious land resources, their biodiversity and crucial carbon sinks.

Respecting the rights of indigenous people 

Indigenous people, including 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 them. A lack of clarity over land rights can lead to legal disputes, violent clashes and land grabs – all of which are a barrier to sustainable rural development. 

Since 2014, we have maintained that land rights that are legally and socially recognized, well-defined and enforceable are the best way to respect the human rights of people living around our factories and our suppliers’ operations. By helping them secure legal rights to land their communities may have lived on for centuries, we are empowering them and helping define which areas must be preserved in perpetuity and which can be responsibly harvested.

People in mountain region

Our key actions

  • Strengthen our risk assessment approach
  • Engage and build the capacity of our suppliers on the topics of land rights and human rights defenders
  • Review and strengthen requirements and safeguards on Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities' (IPLCs') land rights within our existing programs (e.g. Global Reforestation Program)
  • Support IPLCs-centered landscape conservation and restoration projects
  • Collaborate with peers and stakeholders to help address systemic issues and develop common approaches and tools on respecting land rights
  • Identify government engagement opportunities to strengthen respect for IPLCs' land rights
  • Support access to remedy and help address systemic issues within our operations and supply chains

The action plan builds on our Forest Positive activities, which highlights how we can help combat deforestation, better conserve forests and create more resilient livelihoods for the people who live in and around them. 

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

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 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 where we source raw materials

In palm oil-producing regions, such as in North Sumatra in Indonesia, we have used satellite mapping to monitor deforestation around palm oil operations. This also helps us anticipate the future risks to forests, and peatlands as well as developing our understanding of land rights risks to Indigenous peoples. The results are being analyzed to help develop a strategy for landscape-level projects that can be used in other areas around the world where we source all types of raw materials.

Creating Shared Value and Sustainability Report