Indigenous people and local communities (ILSs) are struggling to defend their rights over land and other resources they have traditionally used and over traditional knowledge they have developed over generations. They experience outsiders such as mining organisations being given rights without any reference to them, and receive few benefits from the commercial use of their crops or knowledge. Two righs-based tools – community protocols (CPs) and free, prior informed consent (FPIC) are being used to help claim indigenous rights and negotiate agreements in various biodiversity contexts. This issue of PLA draws on a range of experiences of using these tools, the lessons learnt and ways to maximise the benefits of their use. Some 17 articles are divided into five parts: setting the scene – research partnerships and ABS from the perspective of communities; institutional innovations for FPIC and benefit-sharing; community protocols for genetic resources and ABS; community protocols and FPIC – mining, protected areas and forest partnerships, and tips for trainers.