Technical guides

FAO Governance of Tenure Technical guides 


The FAO Governance of Tenure Technical Guides are part of FAO’s initiative to help develop capacities to improve tenure governance and thereby assist countries in applying the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. The FAO Governance of Tenure Technical Guides are prepared by technical specialists and can be used by a range of actors. They:

  • translate principles of the Guidelines into practical mechanisms, processes and actions;
  • give examples of good practice – what has worked, where, why and how;
  • provide useful tools for activities such as the design of policy and reform processes, for the design of investment projects and for guiding interventions. 

No. 8 Governing Tenure Rights to Commons


Millions of people worldwide depend on natural resources such as land, fisheries and forests that are used collectively as commons. Commons are essential to culture, identity and well-being. As a source of food and income, they are an important safety-net, especially for the most marginalized and vulnerable people. The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security provide a historic opportunity to recognize and secure tenure rights to commons. This guide offers 12 strategies in three areas of action: the legal recognition and protection of tenure rights to commons, their effective implementation by states and rights holders alike, and the support of communities to enjoy their rights. With these interrelated strategies, 7 illustrative cases of practice from around the world, and methodological steps for national and local adaptation, the guide aims to inspire and support states, community-based organizations and civil society organizations, the private sector and other relevant actors to make a difference and contribute to transformative change by making responsible governance of tenure rights to commons real.

Available in: English | Français | Español

No. 7 Responsible governance of tenure: a technical guide for investors


This Technical Guide explains how investors can invest responsibly in agricultural land in line with the Voluntary Guidelines. (Although the Voluntary Guidelines address both forests and fisheries this guide focuses only on investments in agricultural land.) It is not an attempt to set new standards. Rather, the guide explains what the Voluntary Guidelines mean and how they can help firms to understand and manage risk related to land tenure.

Available in: English 4 Español

No. 6 Improving governance of pastoral lands: Implementing the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security


The Technical Guide on Pastoralism builds on a number of initiatives and studies from recent years that have shone a light on pastoral governance and land tenure: on the inherent challenges pastoralists face, the shortcomings of governments in securing pastoral tenure, and the emerging examples of success and progress from around the world. This Technical Guide provides solutions to securing pastoral governance and tenure without undermining the inherent, necessary complexity of customary arrangements. The solutions are within a rapidly changing context, in which traditional practices and crucial patterns of livestock mobility are transforming. The technical guide on Improving the governance of pastoral lands is designed for several audiences including government and non-government actors. While most readers will have a basic knowledge of pastoralism, many will be unfamiliar with the great diversity of pastoralist systems and cultures throughout the world. The guide addresses those who recognize the importance of securing pastoral land tenure and who are looking for practical guidance on how to proceed. The guide is, therefore, not an advocacy document, but it provides arguments in Section 1 for securing pastoral tenure that can be used by different actors to strengthen their justification for such work. While these guidelines provide practical advice that can be operationalized, further work will be required to translate the current document into more local user-friendly products for pastoral communities. 

Available in: English French | Portuguese

No. 5 Responsible governance of tenure and the law


This guide explores the legal dimensions of responsible governance of tenure. It supports the application of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure for Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security at the national level. The guide addresses the legal value of the Guidelines covering the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests by explaining the concept of legitimacy and reviewing the different stages of legislative processes, from legal assessment and law-making through implementation of legislation to settlement of disputes. The guide is aimed at legal professionals working with state institutions, civil society, development agencies and the private sector, as well as law societies, notaries, judges and all those who are interested in understanding the role of law in giving effect to the provisions of the Guidelines.

Available in: English  | French


No. 4 Safeguarding land tenure rights in the context of agricultural investment


This guide has been developed in response to concerns regarding large-scale land acquisitions and the need to increase investment in agriculture. The guide supports application of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure for Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security at the national level by providing technical guidance on how to safeguard tenure rights in the context of agricultural investments, including in land. It aims to provide additional guidance to government authorities engaged in the promotion, approval and monitoring of investments at all stages of the investment cycle. The guide also serves as a reference for implementation of the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in October 2014 (CFS, 2014).

Available in: English | French 4 Español | Arabic

No. 3 Respecting free, prior and informed consent


Ill-regulated land acquisition has become a major problem, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, where it threatens food security, local livelihoods and sustainable natural resource management, and has triggered land conflicts and human rights abuse. Marginalized social groups are particularly at risk, including indigenous peoples, other customary landowners, women, lower-caste people and ethnic minorities. This technical guide on Respecting free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) sets out practical actions for government agencies to respect and protect FPIC and for civil society organizations, land users and private investors globally to comply with their responsibilities in relation to FPIC.

Available in:      English 4 Français 4 Español 4 Arabic

No. 2 Improving governance of forest tenure. A practical guide


Forests help us breathe and they give us homes, food and energy. Moreover, human well-being and the health of our whole planet depend on whether and how we grow and look after forests. So ‘forest governance’ – or who is allowed to decide what about forests and how – is a matter of life and death for millions of people around the world and is profoundly relevant for us all. But decisions about forests and trees are often in the wrong hands or made badly. Much depends on ‘tenure’ – on who owns and controls the forests and trees themselves. The owners may be those who need the forests and look after them well or those who degrade them with no regard for the well-being of others. In short, it is about power. This Practical Guide aims to inspire and arm those who want to try to improve things so that power is used well for forests; it describes how practical tools can be used to shape better governance of forest tenure. If you are a government policy-maker, or other public sector, private sector or civil society stakeholder concerned with forest governance and tenure reform, this guide is written with you primarily in mind. But we hope others may pick it up and find it useful, too. We are aiming for a broad readership, recognizing that people in different situations have different perspectives on the issues and need to take different approaches in addressing them. You may find this guide useful when you recognize that change is needed and you need help in achieving it. When decisions about forests are made by the wrong people, when decisions are bad, when the process is suspect or when good decisions are made but the capacity to do anything with them is feeble – that is when this guide may be useful. Conversely, you may need help in finding the best way to respond to positive opportunities for reform of policies, laws and institutions.

Available in:   English 4Français 4 Español  


No. 1 Governing land for women and men


Gender equality is one of the ten core principles of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. This guide aims to assist in its implementation through the achievement of responsible gender-equitable governance of land tenure. The guide focuses on equity and on how land tenure can be governed in ways that address the different needs and priorities of women and men. Gender-equitable governance of land tenure ensures that women and men can participate equally in their relationships to land, through both formal institutions and informal arrangements for land administration and management. The guide provides advice on mechanisms, strategies and actions that can be adopted to improve gender equity in the processes, institutions and activities of land tenure governance.

Available in:    English 4 Français 4 Español 4 لعربية 5 Albanian