A platform for coordination and action on Land Governance

Written by Elisa Mandelli, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD

Competition for land has never been greater. IFAD has observed that pressure on land and natural resources are increasing as a result of a rising world population, climate change, food prices volatility, declining soil fertility and the need for global food and fuel security. This has prompted many governments and development partners to increase their efforts to address land tenure and resource governance issues in developing countries. In fact, good land governance is more important than ever.

In this challenging context, the “Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security” (VGGT) have been endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in May 2012 with the aim to strengthen land governance by providing guidelines to governments, international development organization and other concerned stakeholders. Following on from the international mobilisation for land security, the global land donor community came together in early 2013 and recognised the need to coordinate the implementation of land governance programmes, share information on best practices among the international community, and, where applicable, join forces in international policy, advocacy and programme work. This understanding led to the creation of the Global Donor Working Group on Land (GDWGL) which was formalised in August 2013.

As explained on the GDWGL’s website, “The Working Group aims to improve land governance and enhance transparency and coordination of its currently 24 bilateral and multilateral members with each other and with external government, non-governmental and private sector stakeholders”.  Its objectives are to improve information and lesson learning but also coordinate initiatives at the international level, highlight challenges around land governance, and agree on collective actions.

IFAD is one of the founding member of the Group together with FAO, World Bank, the Department of International Development of United Kingdom, USAID, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other bilateral and multilateral members. IFAD is convinced that this platform represents a unique opportunity to promote Tenure Security and the interests of poor rural people at an international and cross-cutting level.

The Working Group met first on the 14th of October as a side event of the Committee on World Food Security, and a second time the 16th of October for its 6th meeting at IFAD Headquarters in Rome to take stock of the progresses that have been made in land governance and define next steps for 2016. 

Credit: Global Donor Platform for Rural Development / Romy Sato, 2015

Day 1: Promoting the Voluntary Guidelines

During the first day of the GDWGL meeting, the Group tackled the issue of the Voluntary Guidelines as the first soft-law instrument on the governance of Land Tenure that has been internationally negotiated and agreed. The participants presented practical examples of how these Guidelines have been promoted and integrated into donor supported activities. Among the different contributions, the Lead Technical Specialist in Land Tenure at IFAD, Harold Liversage, illustrated how, with a total budget  of US$ 300 million (of which US$ 159 million from IFAD), 112 loans, 14 grants, IFAD has supported projects related to the governance of Land and Natural Resources in 59 countries. Founding member and Host Organization of the International Land Coalition (ILC), IFAD considers land governance as a critical condition for poverty eradication but it addresses this issue as an integrated element of broader programmes for inclusive rural development and not as stand-alone projects.  In line with the Global Land Indicators Initiatives, IFAD attaches much importance to innovative and effective ways to “measure” the positive impacts of land governance on poverty eradication.    

Day 2: Opportunities for a “Collective Action”

The second day, the Group focused on the concrete opportunities linked to the objectives on the Road Map for 2014-2017. Heath Cosgrove, USAID’s Land Office Director, emphasized the need to strengthen the Roadmap with proposals for collective action : “We need to go beyond lessons sharing and engage into a collective action to drive further implementation of the VGGTs and to achieve the SDGs”. Therefore, the members split into five working groups in order to capture good ideas for feasible, concrete and collective action around five headline priorities: 
  • Strengthen land related information exchange, coordination and cooperation in priority areas;
  • Promote country partnership models to support and deepen land governance initiatives. 
  • Support private sector in order to improve land governance through their core business procedures.
  • Assist donor governments in their contribution to global land governance through coherent approaches.
  • Ensure a global coordination and impact delivery for better land governance strengthened through single open and accessible hub.
The five working groups have identified concrete and realistic outputs and opportunities for action that ranged from the organisation of a global event for lessons sharing around land governance, the promotion of trainings on VGGT’s implementation and Land Tenure Security for Government staff and the development of land indicators.

The GDWGL will meet again on March 2016 during the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, in Washington-DC. You can find more information on the GDWGL activities as well as the Minutes and the presentations realized during the meeting in the GDWGL’s website. Stay updated!