As rising consumption and the environmental crisis intensify pressure on resources, local communities are increasingly being dispossessed of the resources on which they depend for their survival. Large-scale investments --including some pitched as sustainable development, climate smart agriculture, blue and green growth -- take control of resources away from local communities. Increasingly, communities opposing these initiatives are using the language of human rights to land, sea, and food to articulate a vision of democratic access, management and control of resources where access to land, fisheries, food and other life-giving resources is protected. The experiences of communities using human rights instruments like the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Land, Fisheries, and Forests (VGGTS) show that another approach is possible and that governance structures that put marginalized communities and their human rights at the centre of land and resource governance can have a transformative impact on people’s lives.