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Land and Poverty Conference 2019: Catalyzing Innovation


25 - 29 March, Washington, DC - The 2019 Land and Poverty Conference presented the latest research and innovations in policies and good practice on land governance around the world. The conference, one of the largest international events on land governance, attracted over 1,500 participants from governments, academics, civil society, and the private sector.

The current focus in the development community on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators emphasizes the need for tools to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate related activities. Governments around the world do not necessarily have a clear picture of their capacity to provide sectorial coordination and an integrated approach to areas such as tenure governance and land administration (for example spatial planning data) that are needed to optimize the activities required to achieve the SDGs.

The FAO delegation at the Land and Poverty conference shared FAO's experience in providing support to countries from different regions to improve their tenure governance in line with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) in the Context of National Food Security towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

UN Integrated Geospatial Information Framework towards achieving the 2030 Agenda from global to national: Guyana experience

The use of geospatial data has been recognized by the United Nations (UN) as a prerequisite for underpinning the success of the SDGs announced in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015. In August 2018, the United Nations endorsed Part 1 of an Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF), which provides a strategic guidance that enables country specific action plans to be prepared and implemented. Direct benefits will include encapsulating new and innovative approaches to national geospatial information management, implementing integrated evidence based decision-making solutions, and maximizing and leveraging national information systems that are tailored to individual country's situations and circumstances.

Rumyana Tonchovska, Senior Land Administration Officer, Partnerships Division of FAO, participated in the experts' consultations meeting on the development of an Implementing Guide of the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF), jointly organized by the World Bank and the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM). The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission in cooperation with the FAO presented how the IGIF is being applied in Guyana to help rapidly accelerate the use of geospatial data and technologies. Guyana Action plan is one of the first IGIF Action plans in the world and has been presented during the experts' consultation meeting as well as during the Land and Poverty conference as an example for other countries and regions.

From laws to action: Achieving SDG indicator 5.a.2 in the Western Balkans

With the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, gender equality has become more present on the agendas of the governments and the international community. FAO together with the German Government, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the International Union of Notaries (UINL) have been providing support to the Western Balkans countries to move forward in strengthening women's access to land. The experience of the Western Balkans was presented during the conference session: "Can land administration foster gender equality?" chaired by FAO's Rumyana Tonchovska. The presentation focused on the implementation gap between the law (de jure) and the practice (de facto) in the region and introduce a set of practical guidelines that invite notaries and registration officers to use their unique position to protect and strengthen the rights of spouses, partners and daughters. It also explored how the experience from the Western Balkans could be applied in other regions of the world.

Improving gender equality in land tenure in the Republic Geodetic Authority of Serbia

Serbia is one of the countries participating in the Western Balkans regional initiative, supported by the FAO, GIZ and the World Bank, aiming to address the challenges to increase female land ownership. Gender disaggregated data have been produced from the administrative systems in the region, indicating a low percentage of female land ownership across the region. After the adoption of the Global Agenda, the work is focused on developing capacities to collect data and report progress on the SDGs land indicator under target 5.a: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Serbia is one of the first countries in the world, which produced the baseline data for SDGs indicator 5.a.2. and is taking serious actions to achieve the indicator. Rumyana Tonchovska together with the team from the Republic Geodetic Authority of Serbia presented the results from applying the methodology for monitoring and reporting on SDGs indicator 5a.2 and shared good practices from Serbia in improving gender equality in land ownership and its impact in the next coming years.

Promoting land related human rights in Asia Pacific

In the Asia and Pacific region FAO has been focused in promoting enhanced governance of tenure and improve the enjoyment of land related human rights. In connection with that, two papers portraying innovative work developed by FAO in the region and globally (in collaboration with the Legal Office-LEGN) were presented at the conference, including:

"Land Related Human Rights in Pakistan: Improving Land Tenancy as a Pathway for Agriculture Development and Food Security" authored by Marianna Bicchieri

Secure land tenure rights are crucial for the realization of a number of human rights such as the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being, including food and housing. Land is also a key element for food security and well-being of rural people who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. In Sindh Province in Pakistan, land governance issues hamper tenure security and, consequently, food security and equitable social and economic development. Highlighting human rights principles encompassed in the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT), this document will outline innovative options for securing rural land access for the poor. Drawing on pilot experiences, the text will elaborate on alternatives to enhance land governance, which has been leading to improved tenure security and agricultural productivity and, ultimately, enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

"Due Diligence In Land Acquisition: Lawyers and their Responsibilities" authored by Margret Vidar (LEGN), Kate Cook, Marianna Bicchieri

Lawyers have responsibilities both to respect human rights and to advise their clients on respecting human rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, IBA human rights guidance. The human rights implications of tenure mean that human rights due diligence should also include tenure due diligence and take full account of the standards set out in the VGGT, CFS-RAI and the OECD FAO Agricultural Supply Chains Guidance. Among key issues to consider in due diligence processes is the identification of holders of legitimate tenure rights and other persons potentially affected by an investment, the establishment of a thorough and ongoing process of consultation and engagement, to avoid adverse impacts on the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food and housing.

Supporting land consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe

In Central and Eastern Europe, land reforms from 1990's resulted in farm structures characterized by excessive land fragmentation and small average farm sizes in most countries. Most countries in this region have introduced land consolidation instruments to address the structural problems. Since 2000, FAO has supported land consolidation efforts in the region. The development and adoption of solid and operational land consolidation legislation is in all countries a corner stone in the process towards a national programme. Most of the legal discussions are with few variations the same in all the countries preparing for a national land consolidation programme. In recent years, FAO has acknowledged a significant need for an overview of European good practice in land consolidation legislation as well as for generic legal guidance. In 201, FAO conducted a regional study to identify European good practice on land consolidation legislation and will publish a Legal Guide on Land Consolidation this year. The primary objective of the Legal Guide is to facilitate the creation and development of the legal frameworks for land consolidation in Europe and Central Asia, through the promotion of the good European land consolidation regulatory practices that are fully in line with the VGGT.

More Resources

FAO team papers and presenations at the 2019 Land and Poverty Conference

Session: Can land administration foster gender equality? 

Session: Implementing NSDI: From guidelines to practice 

Session: Legal and normative aspects of making law gender sensitive 

Session: Land consolidation: A tool to improve land use 

Session: Providing policy advice through applied research

Session: Enforcing adherence to standards for large land-based investment