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Practical guidance for governments, companies, NGOs, indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to land acquisition. Governance of Tenure Technical Guide N.3

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Year of publication: 2013
Job Number: I3496
Office: Deputy Directory-General Natural Resources
Corporate author: Climate, Energy and Tenure Division


Tenure and its governance are crucial elements in determining if and how people, communities and others are able to acquire rights to use and control land and other natural resources. Responsible governance of tenure promotes sustainable social and economic development that can help eradicate poverty and food insecurity and encourages responsible investments. Improving governance of tenure is the objective of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (Guidelines), which serve as a reference and set out principles and internationally accepted standards for responsible practices. Weak governance of land and natural resources, coupled with lack of secure tenure, in the context of rising global populations, increasing living standards, rising commodity prices, global trade and the use of food crops such as agro-fuels, are placing heavy pressure on farmlands and forests. Ill-regulated land acquisition has become a major problem especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, posing threats to food security, local livelihoods and sustainable natural resource management, and triggering land conflicts and human rights abuse. Particularly at risk are marginalized social groups, including indigenous peoples, other customary landowners, women, lower-caste people and ethnic minorities. Concern about the long-term social and environmental implications of accelerated land acquisition has grown, and international human rights and standard-setting bodies have begun to explore and apply new norms and procedures designed to help regulate this process. The aim is not to discourage investment and prevent the development of new farmlands, but rather to ensure that such expansion occurs in ways that respect rights, secure favourable and sustainable livelihoods, and divert pressure away from areas that are crucial to local livelihoods and have high conservation value.

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