Advancing Sustainable Business and Ancestral Land Recognition

Access to and control over land and natural resources is causing conflict between private companies and indigenous communities in Riau Province, Indonesia. ASBALR PACT empowers indigenous and forest dependent communities in Riau by increasing their capacity to protect their communal and cultural rights through peaceful dialogue and negotiations between communities, public authorities, and the private sector. The program is facilitated by ICCO in partnership with local NGOs HUMA & Scale Up.

  • Location
    Indonesia Riau
  • Start project
  • Projectstatus
  • ID: NL-KVK-56484038-C_005185
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The program Advancing Sustainable Business and Ancestral Land Recognition towards Peaceful Arbitration in Communal Territories (ASBALR-PACT) empowers CSOs, local authorities, and corporates, which benefit people living in 21 villages.

There have been many reports by NGOs and the media regarding pulp and paper companies committing human rights abuses in Riau Province, seizing the land of local communities, intimidating villagers, and prohibiting villagers' access to previously public areas. According to the National Human Rights Commission, there were 1,119 cases involving business-related human rights violations in 2010 and 1,068 cases in 2011.

Frustrated with a slow-moving justice system and the persistent unresponsiveness of the state to their complaints, villagers have protested, in many cases obstructing company operations in order to get the company and government's attention. These community protests include harvesting of plantation trees, re-occupation of land, charging "tolls" for use of village roads, or setting up road blockades, and at times have included seizure of company vehicles and equipment. Such actions have been met with violent attacks by organized mobs of hundreds of club-wielding company enforcers, trained by and sometimes accompanied by state police.

The exploitation of forests and peat lands by pulp and paper companies at Riau province has directly driven to the escalation of conflicts and resulted in fatalities of indigenous people. But also to endangering indigenous and endemic species. including 140 species of mammals identified by the World Conservation Union as threatened, and 15 identified as critically endangered like the Sumatran Tiger and Orangutan. Deforestation and the destruction of peat lands also make Indonesia the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The program's general objective is to empower affected peat land residents of Riau to protect their communal and cultural rights through peaceful mechanisms. Specifically, the action aims to:

1) Strengthen and capacitate forest and indigenous peoples communities in protecting their livelihood and rights as rightful owner and dwellers of forest and peat lands,

2) Catalyze local advocacy campaigns of civil society by raising awareness for sustainable business and alternative dispute regulations,

3) Formulate guidelines for claiming community forest and peat lands as part of their ADAT land (ancestral) in a participatory process by communities, CSO's, national and local government and the private sector.

The program will concentrate on the following activities:
- Organizing and strengthening the current multi-stakeholder network.
- Research, seminars, and workshops on livelihood, forest conservation, and sustainable practices.
- Mapping and auditing land use, land occupancy, and human rights violations.
- Campaign on peaceful coexistence for sustainable economic opportunities.
- Summit on Good Business Practices.
- Research to find a legal scheme for claiming communal land.
- Consultation with authorities on guidelines for claiming ancestral rights and the issuance of a Governor's Decree on claiming ancestral rights.

ICCO's partner organization, HuMa, shares the responsibility of project implementation with ICCO in advocacy and lobbying towards the government, capacity building of the network of CSOs and local authorities, and the development of monitoring tools.
Advancing Sustainable Business and Ancestral Land Recognition

Target group

Indigenous and forest dependent communities in 21 villages in three districts of Riau Province.


The sustainability of the program is in the multi-stakeholder cooperation between the partners. The Partners focus on conflict resolution (land conflict), peaceful reconciliation and sustainable forest management, and good business practices. This project brings together NGOs, CSOs, village organizations, governmental institutions (Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Ministry of Forestry and Environmental Affairs) and business networks to advocate for good business practices.

Additionally, village organizations receive organizational capacity building, as well as capacity building in an economic resilience program.

Goals overview

- A strengthened and unified network of CSOs and local authorities with the technical and operational capability to resolve conflicts, protect livelihoods and gain access to and control over forest and peat lands.

- A signed unity statement and conservation principles for forest and peat lands by stakeholders in the program.

- Development of a land use and occupancy map, as well as a human rights audit tool.

- Strengthened capacity of active companies in the area on UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights*, Corporate Social Responsibility, environmental conservation and alternative conflict resolution mechanisms.

- The adoption of guidelines and Governor's decree in claiming ancestral land.
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