Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

WELCOME ADDRESS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Expert Consultation Workshop on
Land tenure and disaster and its social and gender impact in
the Asia and the Pacific Region

Bangkok, Thailand
14 November 2013

 

Distinguished delegates and participants,
Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to welcome you to this important forum. Before I begin, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to AIT for organizing this workshop. I would like to welcome your collaboration in supporting promotion of responsible governance of tenure and increasing the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises in Asia and the Pacific region.

Eradicating hunger and poverty, and ensuring the sustainable use of the environment, depend in large measure on how people, communities and others gain and control access to land and other natural resources. The livelihoods of many, particularly the rural poor, depend on secure and equitable access to and control over these resources. They are the source of food and shelter; the basis for social, cultural and religious practices; and a central factor in economic growth.

Women’s unequal access to and control over resources compared to men is one of the underlying causes of global hunger. The number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by more than 100 million people if women in rural areas were given equal access to the same resources as men. It is not only the access that is important though, control over resources, such as land titling and tenure rights are equally important issues. The reasoning is that if women were to have the same access to and control over resources as men this would provide for increased possibilities for food production by women. Women who have access to higher quality (and not marginal) resources are burdened less and are able to produce more.

For those developing countries for which data are available, between 10 percent and 20 percent of all land holders are women, although this masks significant differences among countries even within the same region. Closing the gap in access to land and other agricultural assets requires, among other things, reforming laws to guarantee equal rights, educating government officials and community leaders and holding them accountable for upholding the law. It also involves empowering women to ensure that they are aware of their rights and able to claim them.

FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva stated that academics and universities should conduct research into principles for responsible agricultural investments for integrating small-scale farmers into the agricultural and food chains and protecting from land-grabbing or large-scale investments.

The Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) takes into account the differences in women’s and men’s vulnerability to disasters, as well as their differentiated role in fostering a culture of disaster resilience. Gender is a cross-cutting priority of the DRR Framework Programme which ensures that gender concerns, needs and capacities in DRR for FNS are integrated.

The interest of FAO is, therefore, to assess the status of responsible agricultural investments for integrating small-scale farmers into the agricultural and food chains and protecting from land-grabbing or large-scale investments by all stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific region. The assessment provided opportunities to study the current status of large-scale investment and understand and acknowledge differences between women and men and taking specific measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality. We could investigate possible strategies in promoting awareness and promotion of the Voluntary Guidelines (VG) which set out principles and internationally accepted standards for responsible practices.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I believe that this forum is a timely opportunity to share the knowledge, experiences and achievements and enhance understanding and acknowledge the complexity of property rights regimes and provide effective institutional structures that can protect and strengthen equitable access to land within the framework of a society’s particular land policy goals. Among others, land tenure technical assessments and identification of possible approaches and solutions related to land fragmentation, lands encroachment with reserve lands, informal land leasing and selling markets, and land administration bottlenecks would be our particular interests in this forum for discussion.

I wish you all the best for a productive meeting.

Thank you.