Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy

Governance, Equity and Rights

The CEESP Theme on Governance, Equity and Rights (TGER) works to advance approaches to the conservation of nature that are grounded in and promote good governance, social equity and human rights.
A man collecting medicinal plants in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Theme Chair Theme Deputy Chair
Melanie Zurba Headshot Photo: Melanie Zurba Purabi Bose Photo: IUCN
Melanie Zurba
Purabi Bose

TGER engages its diverse membership to learn from and share field-based experience, build capacity and networks, distill best practices and tools, and integrate rights-based approaches to conservation in the policies and programs of IUCN and other organizations. TGER has been a core theme of CEESP since 2004, and builds on previous work of the CEESP Collaborative Management Working Group. TGER has played a key role in building recognition of indigenous and community conserved areas and diverse protected area governance types, and serves as host within CEESP for the IUCN Natural Resources Governance Framework (NRGF).

Main areas of work

TGER contributes to the achievement of the CEESP mandate and program, working in close collaboration with other CEESP Themes and groups. Main current and recent areas of work include:

Natural Resource Governance Framework: TGER is playing a lead role in the development of the Natural Resource Governance Framework (NRGF). The NRGF was created for the purpose of providing a robust, inclusive, and credible approach to assessing and strengthening natural resource governance, at multiple levels and in diverse contexts. Key areas of work in the first phase of NRGF (2013-2016) included regional scoping activities, initial design of an overarching framework of governance principles and assessment guidance, a survey of governance-related work by IUCN programs and Commissions, and support for regional and global meetings to promote exchange and increased collaboration and coherence across IUCN on rights-based approaches to natural resource governance. NRGF work in the current phase (2017-2020) is focusing on completion of the overarching Framework, integration of Framework principles across IUCN programs and approaches, promotion of the NRGF as a wider standard for the conservation community, and support for the implementation of governance assessments.

Indigenous and Community Land Rights and Conservation: Land rights and conservation is a priority issue for TGER, with a particular focus on challenges and opportunities to advance land rights and conservation reforms in key national contexts. In 2016, a group of TGER members and partners organized a workshop at the World Conservation Congress on this topic. The well-attended workshop – one of four CEESP priority workshops at the WCC – featured presentations on Indonesia (by The Samdhana Institute), Colombia (Moore Foundation), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Rainforest Foundation UK), as well as remarks and reflections from Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, drawing on her recent report on Conservation and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. Following the workshop, TGER supported the production of a series of Issue Briefs based on the presentations (see Publications, below), which have been used to raise visibility and advance national actions on conservation and land rights. TGER also collaborated with the CEESP Theme on Environmental Conflict and Security (TECS) and the IUCN Drylands Initiative to prepare a 2016 Technical Guide on the Governance of Pastoral Lands (TG Pastoralism), to support implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure (VGGTs) in pastoral lands.

Human Rights and Conservation: TGER promotes and supports the work of IUCN and TGER members to advance rights-based approaches to conservation. Areas of particular interest include the development of human rights-based standards and policies for the conservation sector, and on mechanisms to resolve conflicts between protected areas and local people and increasing country-level collaboration to secure indigenous and community rights as they relate to conservation.

In 2015, TGER supported work by the Indian Law Resource Center to prepare a guide on conservation and Indigenous Peoples in Mesoamerica.


The following are recent publications produced or supported by TGER:

TGER members are active in research, analysis and publishing on issues related to the work of the Theme. The list below provides a small sample of recent work by TGER members:

  • Protected Areas and the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities - Rights and Resources Initiative (2015). - This study explores how protected areas relate to customary indigenous and community land and resource rights in 21 high-biodiversity countries. It assesses the extent to which rights are taken into account in national legal frameworks for protected areas as well as the range of community tenure situations within and outside protected areas. It further recommends actions to address conflicts and significantly increase support for securing land rights as a conservation priority.
  • Human Rights Standards for Conservation report series (Natural Justice & IIED) - this series of papers are part of an ongoing initiative to develop human rights standards for conservation initiatives. They aim to serve as a foundation for clear guidance about the human rights obligations of conservation actors, and specific details of the rights and forms of redress available.

Why someone should become a member of TGER

TGER members are individuals with concerns and expertise regarding governance of natural resources, equity, and human rights who agree to engage and collaborate with others towards better understanding and action on these subjects. The TGER membership is comprised of more than 250 members from over 50 countries.

While recognition of the centrality of good governance, rights-based approaches to conservation, and social equity has increased, much work remains to be done to ensure their integration in conservation policies and practices at multiple levels. TGER will continue to serve as a dynamic space for this work, drawing on the interests and capacities of its diverse membership, enhancing capacity, and contributing to the implementation of the IUCN Programme.

Go to top