Omidyar Network's Big Give to Land Rights Work

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) is a global alliance that includes 14 main international organization partners and close to 150 collaborating organizations. Among RRI's sponsors are Norad, UK Aid, the Ford Foundation and now, the Omidyar Network.

Omidyar’s $1.5 million, 18-month grant is earmarked for technology improvements that will help RRI gather, analyze and monitor data. The grant will also be used to measure the impact of RRI's work and the work of other private sector players working for indigenous peoples land rights in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  

The RRI grant was awarded out of Omidyar’s Property Rights program, which supports organizations that are working toward improving property rights advocacy and policies around the world. In the Network’s words, it looks “…for investments that have the potential to be highly disruptive.”

To those ends, Omidyar looks not only to governments and NGOs, but also to the private sector to help bring about transformative policy change—especially in developing countries, where over half of the rural land, forests, and dryland areas are currently under dispute.

Of the gift, coordinator of the Rights Resources Initiative, Andy White, stated

(Omidyar Network’s) innovative investment strategy and expertise in using technology to advance the greater good is an opportunity for all of us working in the property rights sector to raise the level of our game, and the level of our impact.

Exactly how the Omidyar’s $1.5 million is expected to level up RRI's game and improve its impact is unclear. Right now, the organization is focused on two heavy global development goals: Doubling the number of locally owned forest areas and securing the rights to that property and reducing the poverty level in forested areas in developing countries by 50 percent.

There’s no doubt that this area of global development needs a nudge. Since the early 2000s, the forest areas that are officially recognized by governments as being owned and/or controlled by indigenous peoples has increased by less than 10 percent in over a decade.