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This special edition of Land Reform, Land Settlement and Cooperatives is a joint publication by FAO, through the Rural Development Division's Land Tenure Service and the World Bank. These two institutions have a long tradition of research and policy advice on land issues. Greater awareness of the importance of access to assets for poverty reduction, economic growth and good governance has led to increased attention to land issues by other development partners and provides the justification for the publication of this special volume.

The papers contained in this issue have been selected from those presented at a series of workshops, held in 2002 in Hungary, Uganda, Mexico and Cambodia, that were organized by the World Bank jointly with the Department for International Development (DFID), the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and with FAO, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the African development Bank (AfDB), the European Union (EU), the International Land Coalition, Oxfam, and other bilateral and multilateral agencies. The purpose of these meetings was to provide input into the World Bank's Policy Research Report: Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction, which was prepared under the authorship of Klaus Deininger of the World Bank's Development Research Group. Building on the discussions at these workshops, this report (which can be accessed at identifies general principles for policies to strengthen tenure security, improve the functioning of land markets and ensure socially desirable land use.

Although the report has made a valuable contribution in helping to establish a broad consensus on general principles that should guide land policies, more detailed work will be required to implement these in specific country contexts. The case studies in this volume help to illustrate not only the complexity of the issues but also the opportunities and the progress made by a number of countries. The challenge ahead is to transform recommendations into actual policies and investments and to provide analytical support that can guide their implementation.

In trying to meet this challenge, it will be possible to draw on three major sources of support. The first is the rich material that has been made available in the preparation of the policy research report ( PolicyResearchReport) as well as the policy documents prepared by both institutions. These include FAO's Land Tenure Series with guidelines such as Good practice guidelines for agricultural leasing arrangements; Land tenure and rural development; Gender and access to land; and Rural property tax systems in Central and Eastern Europe, together with guidelines on The design of land consolidation pilot projects in Central and Eastern Europe (to be published shortly) and a number of others in planning.

A second source of support in moving towards implementation is the cooperation between the World Bank and FAO in the areas of access to land and land administration. The Cooperative Programme between the two institutions has enabled the collaboration of staff at field level, including in the preparation and supervision of World Bank-financed projects and in the preparation of policy analysis materials. The staff of the Land Tenure Service, led by its chief, Paul Munro-Faure, both those based in Rome and those based in the regions, have had substantial involvement at this level in the Latin American, Asian and Pacific, Central and Eastern European and African regions. FAO also executes, through World-Bank-financed Trust Fund arrangements, a number of projects around the world dealing with access to land issues.

The third source of support, without which all the other elements will only be of limited impact, is the active collaboration and support by our development partners all over the world. The papers in this volume, together with others presented at the regional workshops, illustrate the competence and hard work of research institutions, non-governmental organizations and think tanks around the world in participating in the policy debate on this issue. It is our hope that this special issue will contribute to this debate.

Maximiliano Cox
Director, Rural Development Division
Sustainable Development Department

Kevin Cleaver
Director, Agricultural and Rural Development
World Bank

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