Linking rural and the urban: LANDac Conference 2016

By Elisa Mandelli, Associate Professional Officer, IFAD, and Andrea Wyers, Intern, IFAD
Harold Liversage (IFAD) sharing with the audience his considerations on the outputs of the conference @E.Mandelli
This summer, IFAD's Land Tenure desk took part in the LANDac Annual International Conference in Utrecht, Netherlands, an event organized by the LANDac network and a selection of Dutch and international knowledge institutes. Within the global context of rapid urbanisation, increased demand for land, and climate change, this year's conference focused on linking rural and urban dynamics.
In recent years, analyses of the growing demand for land have increased, but often only within the rural sphere. The effects of similar dynamics in the urban and peri-urban areas remain relatively unexplored. The aim of the conference was to bridge the rural-urban divide and explore the linkages between the two spheres.

Bringing together stakeholders from around the world and a variety of backgrounds, the two-day conference was attended by academics, consultants, policy makers, and NGO representatives. The conference offered spaces for paper presentations, poster displays and round table discussions, where participants analysed and discussed such topics as population growth, land scarcity, land-based investments, and especially processes affecting the transformation of urban and peri-urban landscapes and livelihoods.    

The complexity and subjectivity in defining legitimate rights was noted throughout the conference. In contributing to this conversation, Elisa Mandelli of IFAD's Land Tenure desk gave a presentation on IFAD’s experience  in promoting land governance and responsible investment in Bagamoyo District in Tanzania through the Bagamoyo Sugar Infrastructure and Sustainable Community Development (BASIC) programme. The programme aims to support a public-private-producer partnership (4Ps) for the development of sugarcane production in a nucleus estate out-grower scheme. The investment is being implemented in an area adjacent to Dar es Salaam with high potential for coastal tourist expansion.
One of the main challenges has been addressing the tensions in the programme area that result from the competing resource needs of peri-urban expansion and seasonal influxes of livestock. Although the programme has yet to come into force, it intends to include a wider community development programme and to support land tenure security through land-use planning and land registration activities. The programme is already supporting civil society engagement and is monitoring the possible impacts of the programme on tenure security and land use.

Elisa Mandelli (IFAD) presenting IFAD experiences in promoting responsible investment in Bagamoyo (Tanzania). @LANDac, 2016
The entire programme highlights the need for minimizing potential negative impacts and maximizing positive effects of out-grower schemes and other land-based investment and partnerships models. This in turn requires more effort in fostering informed and open dialogue with different stakeholders, especially with CSOs who can play a crucial role in social accountability and monitoring and evaluation. On this topic, Mandelli shared some lessons learned from the support that IFAD provides to the International Land Coalition (ILC) to strengthen CSO active engagement in the promotion of good land governance in Tanzania. Through the establishment of a platform for coordination and joint action, CSO are engaging in policy dialogue on land governance and exploring opportunities to actively shape models for inclusive and responsible land-based investments. Building on the third phase of the IFAD-supported Sustainable Rangeland Management Programme (SRMP III), the platform will also contribute to securing rangelands.  

For the private sector, responsible and transparent investment can also contribute to strengthening good land governance by providing much-needed resources for land tenure activities and opportunities for land development, thus further securing smallholder claims.  Moreover, in a context of increased competition on natural resources and weak land governance, Mandelli highlighted the opportunities for fostering responsible investment models as drivers for strengthening good land governance and secure land tenure rights. The Land Tenure desk will continue to share lessons on the challenges and opportunities for responsible land-based investment in the context of competing land demands. We would like to hear from others on how they are grappling with these issues.