Governance of Tenure

Policy reforms in Guatemala

The new land governance policy, which is part of the overall Rural Development Policy (“Política Nacional de Desarrollo Rural Integral”) promotes sustainable development through access to land, legal certainty and security of land tenure, land conflict resolution as well as access to other productive assets that contribute to family farming and more broadly, to attract investments in agriculture.

The Secretaría de Asuntos Agrarios and the Land Fund integrated the Voluntary Guidelines into the new policy framework. The result is the new land policy, which reflects the main concepts and approaches of the Voluntary Guidelines. It recognizes and strengthens indigenous communal systems of land tenure and management, including land law and jurisdiction. It also recognizes and promotes women’s rights to land and seeks to promote the rural economy and contribute to the competitiveness of rural areas and their full integration into the national economy.

Improving the capacity of people and organizations has been a theme throughout the process. At the start, key stakeholders improved their understanding by receiving information on the Voluntary Guidelines. Training was provided for staff of land policy institutions to improve their capacity, and relevant government agencies (Secretaría de Asuntos Agrarios, Comisión Presidencial de Desarrollo Rural) were assisted in the review and formulation of the policy.

A learning event enabled CSOs working with farmer’s organizations, human rights and indigenous peoples to learn how to the use the Voluntary Guidelines in the land, fisheries and forestry sectors. 

Representatives from Guatemala participated in a programme to support indigenous communities in Central America to develop capacity to engage in national policy dialogues to improve land access and rights for indigenous peoples in the context of the Voluntary Guidelines. The participants shared their experiences regarding land conflicts, weak land governance institutions within indigenous territories, unsustainable management of forests, and other challenges such as mining and mega-projects. These stories set the backdrop for discussions on how governance of tenure in their communities and territories could be improved by using the Voluntary Guidelines. Technology such as Open Tenure were presented as tools to help administer tenure rights. 

Emphasis has now turned to the implementation of the national land policy. Representatives from government, civil society and academia have participated in a series of workshops to address the advancement of rural development in Guatemala within the framework of the Voluntary Guidelines. 

FAO has provided technical and financial support to Guatemala since 2014, with additional financial support from Belgium and the United Kingdom (DFID).