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Land governance for inclusive development, justice and sustainability

Posted by Steven Jonckheere Monday, June 8, 2015

From 12 to 16 May 2015 the International Land Coalition organized a Global Land Forum, which brought together over 500 grassroots organisations, activists, local and international NGOs, researchers, multilateral organisations and government agencies from around the world in Dakar, Senegal. The Forum created particular opportunities for participants to learn from, and contribute to, land governance successes and challenges in Senegal and Africa. It facilitated dialogue to the highest political level on land reform in Senegal. Moreover, the global cope of the Forum enabled exchange across different national and regional contexts that allowed for not only identification of trends, but also the emergence of new perspectives and areas demanding common action.

Experiences from IFAD-supported projects were shared during various opportunities. IFAD’s Vice President, Mr. Mordasini, made an inaugural speech and participated in a plenary session on the future of small-scale farming systems. Mr. Mordasini stated that the challenge is now to scale up the implementation of land policy, and approaches for securing a diverse range of customary land and natural resource rights. He mentioned some general principles that apply:     

- The first one is that scaling-up the implementation of land policy requires political leadership and ownership, as well as transparency and accountability, so that the rights of the poor are protected even when they conflict with the desires of the more powerful.     
- The second principle is that there is a need for more inclusive business arrangements – such as contract farming or joint equity schemes - between the smallholder farmers and their business partners. Indeed, with more private-sector investments being channeled to agriculture, it is imperative that these investments are made in the form of mutually beneficial partnerships with the people already using the land.
- Thirdly, we need to address the significant and persistent data gaps on key dimensions of land governance and the realities of land management. Such deficiency seriously affects the quality and consistency of the land policies,  and the credibility of their objectives and targeting, weakening also the performance monitoring.
- The fourth principle is that we must more systematically share knowledge and experience across the continents. By sharing evidence of what has worked, and learning from what has not, we can accelerate and improve our scaling-up efforts.

IFAD organized two break-out sessions: one on inclusive business arrangements and another on access to land for young people. During the first session a variety of stakeholders from producers’ organisations, civil society, public and private sector shared their views on how to improve land administration systems and investment in agriculture so that the land rights and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, pastoralists and others are strengthened. Several examples of inclusive business arrangements supported by IFAD were shared, such as the Vegetable Oil Development Project in Uganda, the Participatory Smallholder Agriculture and Artisanal Fisheries Development Programme in São Tomé and Principe and a collaboration with Malibiocarburant in Mali and Burkina Faso.

The second break-out session identified transformative practices that promote inclusive development for young people, with a special reflection on the specific challenges of women and indigenous youth. The experience of the IFAD-supported Agricultural Value Chains Support Project in Senegal was shared, where an innovative targeting approach was developed through the ubiquitous and very cohesive village sports/cultural associations. Members of the latter are encouraged to prepare proposals for agro-related income- generating activities and submit them for project support. They are able to enhance their eligibility for support by accepting women and other vulnerable categories as full members. Over 4 000 young women and men belonging to 45 associations are receiving the financial and capacity-building support they need to become agro-entrepreneurs in their own communities, thereby reducing the pressures in favour of migration. Participants of the break-out session strategized collective actions for replication and scaling up in different contexts.