March 19, 2024

ExPEERience Talk #14 – Protecting Indigenous Rights to Land and Natural Resources: perspectives on the carbon market in Kenya

KenyaAccess to justice and developmentBusiness & human rightsVictim's rights

This Justice ExPEERience Talk aims to provide an overview of rights of indigenous communities to physcical and economical access to land and other natural resources, focusing specifically on their intersection with carbon markets land use in Kenya. This is prompted by recent events such as the eviction of the Ogiek people from the Mau Forest in November 2023.

Moderated by Jim India from ASF’s East Africa office.

Indigenous communities in Africa, notably the Ogoni (Nigeria), Endorois (Kenya), and Ogiek (Kenya), have long faced challenges regarding their rights to land and natural resources. The eviction of the Ogiek people from the Mau Forest serves as a significant example of the ongoing struggles indigenous communities face, especially concerning natural conservation projects and the emergence of carbon markets. The intentions of Kenyan authorities to negotiate carbon deals in protected areas further highlight the connection between indigenous rights and carbon markets.

In 2017 the Ogiek won a landmark case against the government efforts to evict them from their ancestral land in the Mau Forest. The African Court of Human and People’s Rights ruled they were entitled to live on the land, and the government had violated their rights by evicting them. In 2022 the court ordered the Kenyan government to pay reparations to the community for the suffering caused by forced evictions. It also ordered the government to consult the Ogiek in respect of any projects on its land.

But despite those victories in court, the Kenyan government has launched a new eviction campaign in November 2023 leaving hundreds without a home and nowhere to go.

This talk aims to shed light on the complex relationship between carbon markets and indigenous rights in Kenya, with possible lessons to be learned for other countries in the region, and beyond. By incorporating perspectives from academic researchers and representatives of indigenous communities, the event seeks to contribute to ongoing discussions on environmental justice and human rights in the context of climate change mitigation efforts, which is also increasingly central to ASF’s work on business and human rights.

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