“Land issues also affect Europe and Central Asia”

FAO meets with the European Coordination of La Via Campesina to work towards the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure

29/01/2015 - 

29 January 2015, Rome – The European Coordination of La Via Campesina (ECVC) today presented its conclusions on common land issues in Europe and Central Asia regarding progress on the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure (VGGT).

 “Despite our perception, we have observed strong dynamics of concentration of land and land grabbing also taking place in Europe. Agricultural lands are being transformed into non-agricultural use at a fast pace. We have also noticed a problem on access to land for small scale farmers, young, and prospective farmers,” said Olcay Bingol, representative of the ECVC. Those are the conclusions obtained from three country case studies in Georgia, Andalucía (Spain) and Romania.

The meeting held today at FAO Headquarters in Rome was “an opportunity to explore possibilities and identify technical capacity for joint collaboration with FAO activities relating to the kind of work La Via Campesina carries out at a local level,” Guilherme Brady, FAO Partnerships Officer and Civil Society Team Leader, said to the 20 CSOs from more than 15 countries, from Spain to Kyrgystan, represented at the meeting.

To do so, FAO presented its activity related to the Voluntary Guidelines, which is based on five pillars: awareness raising (workshops in the region, meetings and other), capacity development (technical guides), support to countries (country projects on land reform and land consolidation, World Bank and FAO Cooperative Programmes), partnerships with stakeholders developed through the Office for Partnerships and monitoring, also from a civil society perspective through working papers.

Rolf Hackbart, Deputy Director of FAO’s Office For Partnerships, Advocacy And Capacity Development, invited civil society representatives to put their demands forward. “Please, present your demands. We need to work closer on land concentration, access to water or land grabbing. We will not eradicate hunger particularly without partnering with the Civil Society”, Hackbart said.

Hackbart proposed a meeting with FAO Europe and Central Asial regional office, virtually present from their office at the meeting, “to discuss further implementation and internal engagement from our team”.

The Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure

The internationally accepted principles and standards of the VGGT serve to develop the capacity of stakeholders to implement transparent, equitable, secure improvements to tenure arrangements over land, fisheries and forests and thereby promote food security and sustainable development.

The VGGT provide a framework that – besides the private sector and governments – can help civil society to develop their own policies and programs to promote the governance of natural resources.  

According the ECVC, the VGGT is “an instrument which has a valuable human rights focus that gives priority to vulnerable and marginalized people”.

Farmer´s meeting

Prior to today´s meeting, farmers’ and civil society organizations from Europe and Central Asia actively working on responsible tenure of land, fisheries and forests issues gathered in a two-day workshop (27-28 January) to discuss ways in which they can share experiences and build capacities for their participation in the implementation of the guidelines.

Organized by the European Coordinator of Via Campesina (ECVC) in collaboration with FIAN, TNI and Crocevia, the workshop was an opportunity for civil society members to trigger-off a collective process of knowledge-building based on their experience and vision.

“Discussions at the workshop highlighted that FAO regional offices, together with the farmers and small-scale producers, fisher folk and forest users, pastoralists, women, indigenous peoples and other communities, can play a key role to support the implementation of the guidelines in Europe and Central Asia,” Bingol noted in her remarks today. 

Participants at the seminar shared their tenure problems and discussed an agenda for action, aimed at influencing decision makers and public policies for the successful implementation of the guidelines.

An outcome document of the workshop will be shared with FAO prior to the second of such seminars, to be held in Brussels (13-15 April), Bingol said.