The Tenure Facility is an NGO based in Stockholm that works in partnership with indigenous peoples and local communities to strengthen their tenure and ability to preserve, protect, and enjoy the benefits of their traditional lands, territories, and resources. These rich biodiverse areas are vital to the people who steward them and the planet we all share.

Nonette Royo Executive Director of the Tenure Facility

Indigenous Stewardship: A Contrast to Conventional Approaches
Nonette Royo, the passionate Executive Director of The Tenure Facility, sheds light on the unique perspective and relationship that indigenous communities share with nature. In a world that often prioritizes rapid, exploitative methods of land and resource management, these communities stand in stark contrast.

Royo elucidates, “In the Tenure Facility’s relationships with indigenous peoples and local communities, the difference is in understanding among indigenous peoples that they are part of nature, and taking care of nature is inherent in themselves as communities and stewards.”

This statement not only captures the essence of their symbiotic relationship with nature but also frames their commitment to stewardship as an intrinsic part of their identity.

The Consequences of Insecure Land Tenure
In our conversation on the Business of Giving podcast, Royo delves into the severe implications of insecure land tenure—ranging from misunderstanding and displacement to conflict and environmental degradation.

She asserts, “Land tenure for indigenous peoples is their relationship to land, not just ownership, but commitment to stewardship such that when it is insecure, meaning there is no title that helps communicate what their relationship to land is, then external parties do not know how to relate with them and to connect and respect those rights and priorities that they have.”

In this regard, the Tenure Facility plays a crucial role, implementing laws and policies that bolster the land rights of indigenous peoples, ensuring their abilities to protect and enjoy their traditional lands and resources.

Bridging the Gap: The Role of Technology and Women in Land Protection
Technological advancements have transformed the process of determining land boundaries, fostering trust, and facilitating better land management. Financial support, Royo explains, is equally vital in propelling these efforts. She also emphasizes the instrumental role of women in this endeavor. Beyond their active participation, they are influential decision-makers contributing nurturing energy to these movements.

The Tenure Facility’s successes are not insignificant. Expanding from five countries in 2014 to a remarkable seventeen countries today, the organization has robust plans to extend its reach to thirty by year-end.

Catalyzing Climate Targets and Financial Sustainability
The organization’s alignment with the Paris Agreement is a testament to its environmental commitment, particularly in countries where the Tenure Facility operates. “So what we do right now is collaborate with not just the private philanthropists, but also governments who are very committed to climate biodiversity targets” Royo shares, highlighting the collaborations that ensure their financial sustainability. To this end, they also explore climate financing under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and impact investments among rights holders.

Living the Partnership Model
Deeply ingrained in the Tenure Facility’s culture is a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Central to their ethos is a partnership model that puts communities at the heart of the process. Royo explains, “I think the key, if there’s a key word here, is living the partnership model. So we are not coming with solutions; we actually come in when solutions become clearer, and we work with the communities.” This statement encapsulates the organization’s approach to collaboration and their dedication to empowering communities to forge their own solutions.

Looking Ahead
Royo acknowledges the challenges posed by the pandemic but also notes how it prompted a shift toward a more decentralized leadership model, enhancing the organization’s resilience. She candidly shares her biggest challenge: ensuring the proactive empowerment and involvement of the next generation of leaders.

The conversation with Nonette Royo provides a deep and nuanced understanding of the work carried out by The Tenure Facility. Guided by the principles of stewardship, collaboration, and inclusivity, the organization continues its vital mission to secure the land rights of indigenous communities, paving the way for a sustainable and equitable future.

To listen to the full interview or read the transcript, just click here.

Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving serves as a Trusted Advisor and Executive Coach to Nonprofit Leaders. His Book, The Business of Giving: New Best Practices for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leaders in an Uncertain World, is available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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