55 Tenure Governance and the Sustainable Development Goals

Leaving no-one behind in the land and fisheries sectors?

Organizers: Strathclyde University; Edinburgh University; International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED); FAO

Abstract

As the Committee on World Food Security is called to put implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the center of its work, this event will explore legal and policy tools aiming to inject fairness and equity in tenure governance and sustainable development. Focusing on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT), and showcasing the recently published FAO Technical Guide on Responsible Governance of Tenure and the Law, discussions will address legal approaches for operationalizing the VGGT, including securing legitimate land tenure rights as a step towards food security. They will also highlight research on lessons and challenges arising from the application of the concept of fair and equitable benefit-sharing in the land, food, agriculture and fisheries sectors; and explore the ‘leave no-one behind’ concept, on the basis of case studies from the fisheries sector.

Key Speakers

Elisa Morgera (Strathclyde University - facilitator)

Elsa Tsioumani (Strathclyde University – BeneLex project)

Lorenzo Cotula (IIED)

Daniela Diz (University of Edinburgh – Marine Benefits project)

Dave Steinbach (IIED)

Margret Vidar (FAO LEGN – concluding remarks)

Main themes/issues discussed

As the Committee on World Food Security is called to put implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the center of its work, this event explored legal and policy tools aiming to inject fairness and equity in tenure governance and sustainable development. Focusing on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT), and showcasing the recently published FAO Technical Guide on Responsible Governance of Tenure and the Law, discussions addressed legal approaches for operationalizing the VGGT, including securing legitimate land tenure rights as a step towards food security. They also highlighted research on lessons and challenges arising from the application of the concept of fair and equitable benefit-sharing in the land, food, agriculture and fisheries sectors; and explored the ‘leave no-one behind’ concept, on the basis of case studies from the fisheries sector.

Summary of key points

Tsioumani’s and Cotula’s presentations focused on land governance, highlighting, among other issues: the relevance of the VGGT, despite their soft-law nature; possible tensions between different bodies of international law, including on human rights, the environment, trade and investment; the importance of national law for land governance, including for instance defining what tenure rights are “legitimate”; challenges regarding the conceptualization and application of the principle of fair and equitable benefit-sharing in land governance; and the opportunities arising from the 2030 Agenda as a new and comprehensive international framework.

Diz’ and Steinbach’s presentations focused on fisheries, exploring a series of legal means and tools to contribute to equity in the context of the SDGs, including: the ecosystem approach; integrated impact assessments (accounting for impacts on ecosystem services and cumulative impacts on ecosystems); territorial use rights; and fiscal reform.

Key outcomes/take away messages

Equity and justice concerns arising from large-scale and/or foreign exploitation in the land and fisheries sectors result in challenges for sustainable development but also an opportunity for a cross-sectoral discussion on the role of law.

Despite challenges regarding tensions between different bodies of international law and implementation on the ground, the 2030 Agenda, as a new and comprehensive framework, represents an opportunity to move towards equity at the international level, and the VGGT can be used as a yardstick to that regard.