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Promoting better tenure and responsible natural resource management

03/04/2014 - 

Secure and equitable access to natural resources is key for sustainable development, and good governance of tenure is crucial in determining how people and communities acquire access and rights to control land, fisheries and forests. 

An agreement signed  by FAO and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre (CATIE) aims to foster dialogues, promote South-South knowledge exchange, and inform policies in order to enhance the responsible governance of tenure of land and natural resources, and therefore boost food security in developing countries. 

“This partnership with CATIE will build the capacities of current and future leaders to create innovative strategies for the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources,” said FAO Deputy Director-General, Coordinator Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo, at the signing ceremony.

“FAO recognizes CATIE as a Center for Knowledge on integrated agriculture and natural resource management, contributing towards the achievement of food security. Our institutions will join forces to strengthen South-South and triangular cooperation with member nations. I am sure that, working together, we will contribute to the sustainable and hunger-free future we all want,” Semedo added.

Some of the foreseen activities envisaged under this agreement are to prepare and implement project proposals as partners, approach potential donors and aid agencies for strengthening capacities of integrated management of agriculture, forestry, agroforestry and conservation of natural resources, focused on family farming.

The joint mobilization of technical expertise for thematic interventions (South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation), the organization of training and workshops and the facilitation of access to learning resources are other key activities.    


Putting guidelines on tenure into play

Today's agreement underscores the importance of FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests.

 “The partnership between FAO and CATIE is an excellent opportunity to collaborate in the context of the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines in order to achieve FAO Strategic objectives, mainly the eradication of hunger”, Director of FAO’s Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development, said. 


 “We invite the international community, regional and sub-regional groups, states and entities, and all non-state actors to join the implementation process of the guidelines and become agents for change,” Rolf Hackbart, Deputy Director of FAO’s Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development, said. 

“Only a joint, constructive and results-based effort with all the sectors involved can guarantee food security for all,” he added. 

Based in Costa Rica, CATIE is an international, interdisciplinary centre that specializes in agriculture and natural resources, combining academia with outreach, and innovative solutions for sustainable development. Its regular members include the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) as well as the governments of Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Venezuela. Spain and the state of Acre in Brazil are affiliated members.


Empowering the poor and vulnerable

During the signing ceremony, CATIE Director-General José Joaquín Campos presented his organization's systemic-approaches, and particularly the Climate-Smart Territories (CST) approach in the tropics as a tool to achieve sustainable and inclusive human well-being.  The approach seeks to reconcile food production the need to both help agriculture adapt to climate change as well as reduce its own emissions of greenhouse gases. 

“If we want to address the issues which we are confronting today, the challenges, through climate smart agriculture we need technologies, that is true, but we also need the collective action, the partnerships at the land scape scale for bringing a change. We are in an urgent situation, for that we need  policies, institutions, incentives for an enabling environment, so people will have access and the rights to use and manage natural resources in a sustainable manner: land, forests, fisheries. This is very important and I congratulate FAO for taking the lead in promoting the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines”, said Mr Campos during the event.

Establishing and protecting rights to resources, especially for the most vulnerable, is a key element of the approach. 

Where the poor and vulnerable have limited and insecure rights to land and other natural resources, it is difficult for them to climb out of hunger and poverty. Conversely, equitable and secure rights support social and economic development and environmental sustainability. 

Costa Rica's Permanent Representative to FAO, Ambassador Fernando Sánchez, stressed his country's commitment to South-South cooperation and called the formalized CATIE-FAO alliance "a natural fit."

He also expressed his government's willingness to offer its expertise in the areas forest management, agriculture, and sustainable tourism.