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Rights-Based Approaches in Climate Change, Conservation and Development Initiatives: Preliminary analysis and recommendations from a review of the scholarly literature

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Rights-Based Approaches (RBAs) purposefully position the recognition of, respect for, and access to individual and collective rights as central to an initiative’s planning, design, implementation, monitoring process, and outcomes. In mainstream climate change, conservation, and development programs and policies, this means refocusing the relationship between ‘beneficiaries’ and ‘implementers’ to one of right holders and duty-bearers. RBAs hold growing discursive importance in relation to the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs) in conservation and climate change spheres and the agendas of international agencies.
The growing interest in RBAs, and their inclusion in frameworks that will guide development, conservation, and climate projects over the next decade is laudable. However, there is a shortage of analysis of RBA experiences, both their conceptualization and practice. Such analysis would advance discussions on the impact of these approaches and provide lessons to enable transformative change.
This review is a preliminary assessment that aims to advance the ongoing conversation on RBAs. Our primary interest is the conception and implementation of RBAs in forest-based initiatives, but we reviewed the wider scholarly and gray literature on RBAs in development, conservation, and climate action initiatives. The review was complemented by interviews with a multi-actor group of specialists and advocates.

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