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April 2005

Participatory and Negotiated Territorial Development (PNTD)

FAO stresses the importance of the role of institutions in ensuring food security, fighting poverty and promoting the development of human and natural resources. The Rural Development Division, SDA has been undertaking activities to assist FAO Member Nations in restructuring their rural institutions and in identifying and preparing projects on "Land tenure institution building for food security and sustainable rural development" and "Improved rural institutions and services to promote sustainable rural livelihoods". Appropriate institutional mechanisms are required to establish user rights and facilitate access to rural resources (land, water, trees and wild fauna), which are a necessary precondition for agricultural development and food security. Many countries have requested specific advice on such issues as property rights, more equitable access to natural resources for women and men, the functioning of markets and administration of land property rights in order to benefit from mortgage credit for investment, and good management of land and natural resources” and more broadly on the aspects of the organization of the stakeholders and the relations between them.

This note presents an update on the work done on participatory and negotiated territorial development (PNTD) and modes of intervention in areas with competitive and multiple uses of land and natural resources,, drawning on the experiences of the Rural Development Division in different geographical settings and on various subjects.

The experience gained over the last few years in different countries has shown that this type of analysis can serve as a tool to facilitate a dialogue among the various actors involved in order to promote a negotiated approach to territorial development.

The purpose of this approach is therefore to define a process in which the analysis of local territorial issues, based on the viewpoints of the different actors and on an historical analysis, contribute to a coherent understanding of the territorial system. Furthermore, this approach is based on the idea that all identified territorial issues be placed on a negotiation table that will gather all the stakeholders in order to discuss area-related problems, with the aim of possibly collaborating in the formulation of a Social Territorial Agreement.

This method requires the definition of a new role for the experts who act as mediators/speakers and facilitators of the whole process. The experts legitimize their position through an equitable and impartial attitude (“the honest broker”) in search of a wide consensus and adjust their intervention according to the stakeholders’ margins of flexibility in order to stimulate an agreement among the different viewpoints.

Undoubtedly, stakeholders’ bargaining power, which allows them to participate in the negotiation or precludes such participation, is the most delicate aspect of this approach. This is why it is important, from the very start, to activate a widespread effective media campaign and a search for partnerships. which are the two pillars of the process aimed at building weak and marginal actors’ capacity to negotiate.

Finally, this approach to the territory is based on the concept of an open process of diagnosis as a means to support the definition of a collective territorial project. Such a project (i.e. the Social Territorial Agreement) provides a new perspective to the management and prevention of problems arising from local competition over the use of and access to land and natural resources. These problems can, of course, be quite different depending on the context and the issues at stake in a particular geographic area.

This methodology allows for a negotiated aggregation of local demands and provides inputs for an adaptation/redefinition of national and local policies in order to meet such demands. The main purpose of the process is to strengthen the dialogue and mutual trust among the various actors and between the actors and the institutions. Decentralized institutions (whether local or municipal) represent the main entry point in a collaborative attempt to influence social, cultural and political change and to improve the design of and coordination between the interventions at the different decision levels (from civil society and organizations related to the state and its decentralized bodies). Nonetheless, as most changes (at peri-urban/peri-rural level) take place outside administrative and political borders, it is important to take into account the external factors that influence local development and actions undertaken in a particular area.

Thus, the problem is how to guide inter-municipal and regional intervention or, in more general terms, how to direct interventions which go beyond the local and in some cases even national level. Furthermore, each specific case should be analysed from the points of view of the actors regarding current issues and problematic trends, causes of tensions or conflicts and local opportunities and potentials that need to be developed (human, social, environmental, productive, etc.). The general approach to territorial planning adopted in this paper - which embraces the complexity and totality of the territory – cannot overlook the need for these concepts, to be oriented towards offering practical solutions to FAO member countries.

The following table gives an idea of the process and the products:

The full document may be downloaded in English (PDF, 740K) , Spanish (PDF, 508K) , French and Portuguese.

For more information please contact the Rural Development Division of FAO:

Paolo Groppo, Land Tenure Systems Analysis Officer , +39 06 570 54741
Jean Bonnal, Rural Development Officer , +39 06 570 54453


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