With a rural population of nearly 500 million, Southeast Asia is a critical focus for poverty alleviation efforts that can benefit many millions of women and men. Agriculture is the foundation for rural livelihoods in the region, and stronger land rights are an essential component in efforts to promote broad-based economic growth, enhance food security, and improve lives.

The region is also home to more than one-third of the world’s mangrove forests, which store vast amounts of carbon and are a critical bulwark against climate change. These forests are also a source of food and income for coastal communities, who for generations have relied on mangrove fisheries for their abundance of fish, crab, and shrimp. Stronger forest rights for local communities help to both preserve their culture and way of life and empower forest users to serve as environmental stewards of these vital ecosystems.

Landesa works with governments and multilateral institutions to support land reform efforts and elevate land rights in regional development agendas. Since 2015, when Landesa began work in the region, these efforts have helped nearly 300,000 previously landless households obtain rights to land of their own, and have helped strengthen land rights for hundreds of thousands more.



Strengthening land rights across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations


Improving lives and livelihoods for millions


Protecting farms, forests, and mangroves


Coastal Livelihoods and Mangroves Project

The 4.6 million hectares of mangrove forests in the coastal region of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia are a critical source of livelihood for 73.6 million individuals, some of the most vulnerable people in the region. Mangrove forests here also mitigate climate change, storing 943 million metric tons of carbon.

Pressures on these areas are substantial and widespread - ranging from large-scale development to expansion of plantations and shrimp farming enterprises - and place both the mangroves and forest dwellers under threat.

Landesa is carrying out an ambitious law and policy initiative to lay the foundation to strengthen coastal tenure rights across this region to protect the mangrove forests and the communities living there. Alongside our local partners, Landesa is addressing laws and policies regarding forest tenure, land use planning, and climate mitigation and adaptation with the six countries forming a contiguous stretch of bioregion from West Bengal, India to West Papua, Indonesia. Activities include: state policy advising in West Bengal, locally-led climate adaptation in Bangladesh, community forest certification in Myanmar, forest cover mapping in Thailand, national policy advising in Cambodia, and legislative support in Indonesia.

At the same time, Landesa is collaborating with the regional policy body ASEAN to provide recommendations through various working groups, international advocacy, and national ministries. Our unique and bold approach is mutually reinforcing at the national and regional levels, with the power to protect ecosystems and communities on an enormous scale. This work is funded by King Philanthropies and other supporters.