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Protecting land and natural resources tenure rights in the era of COVID-19 by heeding the lessons from the past

Land is essential for food security and for livelihoods, particularly for small food producers who generate 80 percent of the world’s food. Yet, most of the world’s small food producers do not have secure, legally recognized tenure rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe disruptions around the world, undermining the ability of small food producers to access and control their land and the natural resources they need, and thereby rendering them more vulnerable to encroachment on their tenure rights. While the impact of the COVID-19 crisis is still unfolding, experiences gained from the impact of the food crises of the late 2000s on tenure rights have a lot to teach.

This brief aims to provide guidance and insights to policy-makers, regulators, and affected stakeholders on how evaluate and plan for how to protect the tenure rights of small food producers, particularly women, indigenous peoples (IPs) and other vulnerable groups, to avoid exacerbating the negative effects of the existing health crisis. It argues, amongst other recommendations, for the implementation of legislative and regulatory frameworks that protect legitimate tenure rights and livelihoods; for land governance frameworks, such as multi-stakeholder platforms, that help stakeholders and decision-makers solve land related issues; and for digitalizing data to inform legislative and policy decision-making. These as important steps towards mitigating the impact of the current health crisis on the access and control over land and natural resources that small food producers need for their food security and for livelihoods.

Available in French and Spanish.

Policy Theme