Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, I have the honour to welcome you to this Asia Regional workshop on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.
The objectives of the workshop are to raise awareness of these Guidelines and to develop ideas for how they can be used to support the improvement of the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the region’s countries.
Let me start by saying how grateful and honoured we, at FAO are, at the willingness of the Government of Thailand to host this important event.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to this workshop in Bangkok.
Governance of tenure
Improved governance of tenure is essential. It is essential for food security, for poverty eradication, and for contributing to a foundation for responsible investment and for environmental sustainability.
Millions of people depend on access to farmland and rangeland, to fisheries and to forests for their livelihoods. Secure and equitable access to natural resources is a key for development.
As we know, there is growing competition for natural resources. Governing institutions face difficulties in adapting to this growing intensity of competition and to an increasingly dynamic world that provides great opportunities, but also entails large risks and serious concerns.
Improving governance of tenure is important, and it is important to do it in ways that reflect the interests of citizens, reconciling differences of opinions, and by ensuring that people are able to exercise their tenure rights and duties.
These actions will help to ensure food security for millions of people. They will also improve livelihoods, strengthen social and economic development and enhance the environment.
Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure
The Voluntary Guidelines provide a framework for the governance of land tenure, fisheries tenure and forest tenure. They provide internationally recognized principles and practices that can be used to improve tenure security and access to natural resources, whether in existing or new programmes and processes, or when establishing strategies and priorities. The Guidelines can be used as a reference by States in the development of relevant policies and laws. They can serve as a benchmark for acceptable practices for people in government, civil society organizations, private sector, and universities and research institutes.
FAO and its partners initiated the preparation of the Guidelines, which are based on a consultation process that included a meeting in this region October 2009.
The Guidelines were finalized through intergovernmental negotiations, and with the participation of civil society, the private sector and research institutes. The negotiations were led by the Committee on World Food Security, which formally endorsed the Guidelines on 11 May 2012.
Since then, the implementation of the Guidelines has been encouraged by the United Nations General Assembly, at the Rio +20 meeting, and by the G20 and G8.
The Guidelines are globally significant because they constitute the first international agreement on tenure and also, importantly, because they were developed through a participatory process of consultation and negotiation.
The Director-General of FAO referred to the end of the negotiations as a milestone achievement, because it resulted in the first comprehensive global instrument on tenure to be prepared through intergovernmental negotiations.
Governance of tenure is a priority for FAO and is being mainstreamed in all relevant work. FAO is assisting countries to modernize and improve tenure of land, fisheries and forests in order to ensure food security and good nutrition for all. Governance of tenure can be seen in FAO’s roles of providing a neutral forum where nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy, and in serving as a source of knowledge and information. FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger and eradicate poverty, and governance of tenure is included in these efforts.
Workshop on the Voluntary Guidelines
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are here in Thailand to discuss opportunities that could improve governance of tenure in this region. This workshop is a direct continuation of the consultation meeting held in Viet Nam in 2009 as part of preparing the Guidelines. With the Guidelines now finalized, this workshop provides an occasion for you to become more familiar with them and to discuss how they can be used to improve governance of tenure in your countries and in your work.
I hope that this workshop will help you to develop ideas that you can share with colleagues when you return home. It is also an opportunity to liaise with partners and create synergies with existing initiatives.
With the Guidelines now a reality let us work together to put them into practice, and to take steps to improve the governance of tenure.
I am pleased to see so many of you here in Bangkok today. I wish to express my deep gratitude to all of you for contributing your time and your expertise this week.
On behalf of FAO, I wish you all a fruitful and successful workshop.