Governance of Tenure

Governance of tenure newsletter

20 December 2017

Commemorating the 5th Anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines

Rome, Italy (5 – 10 October 2017). In commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines, FAO, together with relevant stakeholders and partners, and with financial support from the European Union, organized a technical thematic forum from 5 - 6 October, followed by a high-level event on 10 October where the outcome of the technical thematic forum was reported. Both events took place within the framework of the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

© FAO / Federica Gabellini

Over 200 representatives from government, civil society, private sector, academia, UN agencies, international organizations, professional associations and donor agencies gathered at FAO Headquarters to participate in the celebratory events. The thematic forum showed evidence that the Voluntary Guidelines have contributed to remarkable shifts in land governance. They have enabled people to exercise their rights to access, use, manage and control natural resources in an equitable and transparent manner, contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, although important achievements have been made over the past five years, responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests remains a critical challenge. All stakeholders must keep momentum in use and application of the Voluntary Guidelines in light of the importance of governance of tenure in the realization of food security, the eradication of poverty and to achieve the SDGs.

Read the Thematic Forum Outcome

Read more about the event (Webcast, Thematic Sessions Presentations, Photos of the Events



Kuito and Huambo, Angola (19 - 28 September 2017). Twenty-four technicians from local administrations received training on the use of a modified version of Open Tenure, a tool for recording land claims. The training took place in two separate events, and was organized in the framework of the project “Strengthened capacity for improved governance in partnership with Non State Actors in the Central Highlands of Angola” with institutional support from FAO. The project, funded by the European Union, is part of a regional programme aimed at implementing the Voluntary Guidelines in ten African countries. In Angola, the project started in May 2014, and was implemented by World Vision International, and Development Workshop. The training was held after the customization of a software carried out by NGO and FAO experts, whose output resulted in a tailor-made system, called SAGIT (Sistema Angolano de Gestão de Informaçâo de Terras) which has been installed in seven Municipal Administrations and one Provincial Cadastre Office, as a pilot that could be scaled up to the rest of the country. So far, more than 300 concessions have been issued through the SAGIT.


Niamey, Niger (28 – 29 June 2017). A high level national meeting in Niamey successfully inaugurated a technical committee to set up the États généraux du foncier rural, a national land forum, which has been considered a strong priority by the Government of Niger, particularly with a view to addressing disputes over access to natural resources and national food security. The objective of the forum is to take stock of the tenure situation in the country and it is expected to lead to adjustments and reforms essential to effective land governance. The meeting was organized by the National Rural Code with technical support from FAO and presided over by the Ministry of State, Agriculture and Livestock. The technical committee is made up of 23 members from key ministries, civil society organizations and academia. The preparation process for the États généraux du foncier, planned to be held in January 2018, includes a series of capacity development activities aimed at supporting the mainstreaming of principles of the Voluntary Guidelines throughout the process.


Asunción, Paraguay (3 - 4 August 2017). The Paraguayan capital hosted the International Colloquium "Gobernar la tierra en igualdad” (Governing Land in Equality), attended by 140 representatives from government, academia, and rural social movements from 12 countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region. The forum, jointly organized by FAO and UN Women, was a chance to discuss the main challenges to women’s access to land and the mechanisms necessary to improve land governance under the Voluntary Guidelines.  Academics highlighted the need to compile sex-disaggregated data on landholdings and decision-making at household level in order to recognize the role of women in the rural economy. Civil society called for leadership training and capacity-building to ensure women's involvement in political dialogue and decision-making roles. Participants emphasized the need for institutional coordination and the incorporation of a differentiated approach by gender and territory to adjust land policies to different realities at local level. Access to credit, to agricultural inputs and to crop insurance by peasant and indigenous women was underscored to support their economic autonomy and guarantee their food security.


© FAO / Amanda Bradley

Rome, Italy (9 - 13 October 2017). A training course on Open Tenure was held in Rome for four forestry officers from Tunisia.  Open Tenure is a tablet-based tool that records land claims, aimed at ultimately increasing land tenure security as endorsed/promoted by the Voluntary Guidelines.  As in many countries, Tunisia’s state forest boundaries are unclear and encroachment has become a major challenge.  FAO supported the Tunisian Government’s Direction Générale des Forêts (DGF) to address this problem with both technical and material support.  FAO also supported the purchase of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) station (used to accurately map forest boundaries) and a set of tablets. Subsequently, pilot activities were implemented in the Siliana governorate from 23 October.  At the time of writing over 50 forest boundary locations were marked and 20 claimant surveys were registered for review.  Activities were funded by FAO’s UN-REDD Programme. 

Central African Sub Region

© FAO / Sofia Espinosa

Lambaréné, Gabon (8 - 10 November 2017). A sub-regional workshop was held to share experiences of implementing the Voluntary Guidelines and tenure governance among nine countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tomé and Principe and Rwanda. Organized by FAO, the workshop saw the attendance of 60 stakeholders representing government and civil society, gathered to promote dialogue, capitalize on experiences and propose actions to improve governance of tenure, five years after the first Voluntary Guidelines regional workshop. The meeting ended with a set of recommendations to continue to share experiences on tenure governance and requests for FAO to support countries to create a platform for information exchange. A series of activities are expected to take place in the Central African sub-region over the next few years, such as national Voluntary Guidelines workshops and the establishment of institutional frameworks to ensure the monitoring of progress on Voluntary Guidelines implementation and improved tenure governance.    


Monrovia, Liberia (31 August 2017). FAO, in collaboration with the Government of Liberia and partners, organized the 4th multi-stakeholder platform technical working session on the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines. The two-day session brought together representatives from the government, traditional leaders, civil society, private sector, UN agencies, donors and academia. At the end of the technical working session, participants agreed on eight recommendations to improve the Voluntary Guidelines implementation in Liberia and issued a resolution calling on all stakeholders to join efforts to advocate for the speedy passage of the draft Land Rights Bill. Recommendations include using the Voluntary Guidelines’ principles to educate public in Liberia on their tenure rights; increasing public awareness on the governance of tenure; piloting legal support services for local communities; increasing capacity on tenure governance of all relevant stakeholders; developing a dedicated academic programme on tenure governance; urging the government to provide adequate political drive to support the Voluntary Guidelines implementation process; strengthening the Voluntary Guidelines institutional framework in Liberia and; developing and approving a one-year national Voluntary Guidelines action plan.  

Discovery Day 2017: Technology contribution in improving tenure governance towards achieving the SDGs

© FAO / Federica Gabellini

Rome, Italy (05 October 2017). Discovery Day 2017 was held as part of the Technical Thematic Forum of the 5th Anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines. This year’s meeting presented innovative, faster, cheaper, fit-for-purpose solutions, using geospatial data and technologies in support of the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Tenure and to address some of the world’s most pressing tenure related issues, resulting from the negative impact of climate change, violent conflicts, mass migration, and growing urbanization. Various practical examples with the use of very high resolution satellite imagery and imagery collected with drones, machine learning and crowdsourcing technologies demonstrated how to deal with complex situations to improve land, fisheries and forests governance. Participants from Serbia and the United Kingdom shared their experience in establishing Centers of Excellence to support government institutions to improve their capacity and to make the best use of available spatial data and technologies.

The event was jointly organised by FAO, the European Commission Joint Research Centre, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the World Bank.

See the video recorded session:

Civil Society

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are increasing their knowledge, capacities and use of the Voluntary Guidelines through targeted activities following the methodology established in the manual “Putting the Voluntary Guidelines on Tenure into Practice: A Learning Guide for Civil Society Organizations”, developed by FAO and FIAN International, in order to more meaningfully participate in national tenure-related processes. Each country adapts the programme to its specific context, where participants assess their local tenure situations and identify action plans. The programme has been successfully implemented in over 19 countries since late 2014, through the financial support of the FAO Multipartner Programme Support Mechanism (FMM).  

Recent activities include:

Ghana Accra, Ghana (19-21 October). West-African Convergence of Land and Water Struggles through the Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ECASARD) organized a 3-day regional event for CSOs on the use and application of the Voluntary Guidelines in Accra, bringing together 15 representatives of national platforms from 14 countries in the sub-region and 30 representatives of different Ghanaian platforms. The meeting was also attended by a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture of Ghana and 2 local traditional chiefs. The learning/dialogue meeting allowed the exchange of different perspectives on the use and application of the Voluntary Guidelines in the sub-region and plan for future collaboration between CSOs in the sub-region to meaningfully engage with governments, regional organizations and other partners in relation to the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines.    

Guinea Conakry, Guinea (24-26 October). The Association for University Youth for Environmental Protection (AJUPE) and  the national platform of the Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles organized a training for CSOs on the Voluntary Guidelines, bringing 30 delegates from four of Guinea’s Natural Regions, including members of the national platform, CNOPG and CSO networks. The workshop promoted a participatory approach, through use of the methodology and techniques of the Learning Guide.  Group work, open discussion, storytelling and the use of images encouraged active participation and understanding among participants.  The discussions on each theme allowed participants to exchange knowledge through concrete examples taken from their respective experiences and contexts with regard to prevention, management and resolution of land conflicts.

Indonesia Pari Island, Indonesia (September 2017). The Indonesian Traditional Fisherfolk Union (KNTI), with the support of the Transnational Institute (TNI), organized a training for around 50 people from different regions of the country. The training was a pilot for the newly adapted modules of the Learning Guide, co-developed by FAO and a selected group of civil society organizations, which addressed not only the Voluntary Guidelines but also the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines.  The results of the training were then presented to the High Level Dialogue with Ms Ibu Susi, Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, where concerns and issues faced by traditional fisherfolk were discussed. 

Kyrgyzstan Suusamyr Valley, Kyrgyzstan (August 2017) and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (October 2017). Kyrgyzstan showed strong potential for learning programmes, considering its numerous land-related laws, regulations, and tax codes, as well as it being a focus for the Regional Initiative for the REU Region (Europe and Central Asia).  Two workshops were organized together with the Nomadic Livestock Keeper's Development Public Fund.  The first workshop trained 35 pastoralists while reviewing the Pastoral law (2007) through the lens of the Voluntary Guidelines.  The second workshop enabled an exchange of experiences by local CSOs about working on tenure-related issues, as well as promoting dialogue between CSOs and government representatives about applying the Voluntary Guidelines principles in the political and legal framework.  

Mali Bamako, Mali (14-16 September 2017).A workshop was held in Bamako to discuss the elaboration of the implementing decrees of the Agricultural Land Law and the validation of the national roadmap for its implementation by the Ministry of Agriculture, through the framework for dialogue (“cadre de concertation”) and the Voluntary Guidelines multi-stakeholder platform. Organized by CNOP (Coordination Nationale des Organisations Paysannes) together with the Ministry of Agriculture, which chaired the workshop, roughly 60 participants took part, including the national Voluntary Guidelines consultation framework, participants from the workshop held in Ségou in July 2017, and CNOP members.  The overall objective was to make concrete proposals for the implementing decrees of the land law and on tenure reform.  

Nepal Kathmandu, Nepal (10-11 September 2017).A national workshop was organized as part of a wider set of awareness-raising and capacity development activities which included district-level workshops from selected provinces with affected communities, civil society members, political parties’ leaders and government officials working on land, fisheries and forests. The aim of the workshop was primarily to increase the capacity of CSOs in relation to land and their ability to engage with stakeholders at all levels including government institutions and local authorities from district to national level. The national workshop and related capacity development activities complemented the ongoing FAO collaboration with the Government of Nepal to support the Voluntary Guidelines implementation in the country.

Thailand Bangkok, Thailand (September 2017). Focus on the Global South organized a regional workshop entitled “The Tenure Guidelines as an Instrument to Advance Human Rights-Based Land and Natural Resources Governance in Asia”, bringing CSOs from more than 10 countries of the region to discuss the link between the Voluntary Guidelines and a rights-based approach. Some participants also took part in a workshop organized by FIAN International, bringing around 15 people from the IPC Working Group (WG) on Land and Territories and other organizations from Asia, Africa and Latin America. This workshop focused on exchanging experiences between regions and analyzing the current and future work of the WG.

Tunisia Tunis, Tunisia (October 2017). In the Near East Region, FAO has been supporting CSOs in their annual Land Forum, which works to channel and develop CSO initiatives on issues related to natural resources within the framework of international human rights. CSOs from across the region come together to discuss issues concerning land, tenure security, housing, access to natural resources, food security and sovereignty, agricultural investment, and other rights-based issues.  This year’s Forum, organized by Habitat International Coalition Housing and Land Rights Network (HIC-HLRN), focused on creating linkages between the Voluntary Guidelines, FAO’s agenda on natural resources and the FAO Regional Initiative on Small-Scale Family Farming.

Uganda West Nile and Karamoja sub-regions, Uganda (August 2017). Uganda hosted two sub-regional Training of Trainers (ToT) workshops to increase civil society awareness on the Voluntary Guidelines and national land laws and policies, and to strengthen civil society capacity to engage with government institutions and local authorities. The two workshops followed up on a series of ToTs undertaken in May 2017. The workshops successfully brought together CSO representatives and government officials, helping to improve dialogue and collaboration between the actors.

New publications

TG11 Valuing land tenure rights

Valuations of tenure rights are required by the State and by the private sector for a wide variety of reasons, often forming and informing the basis of transactions, taxation, compensation and accounting. This guide sheds light on the issues associated with the identification and valuation of tenure rights for different purposes, and provides guidance on how to ensure that valuations are undertaken in a fair, reliable and transparent manner that comply with international norms.

TG10 Improving ways to record tenure rights

This guide is about making the recording or registration of tenure rights more relevant to people who hold those tenure rights, and particularly to people who are currently poorly served by systems to record or register tenure rights. It provides practical advice on ways to improve the recording of tenure rights, including by addressing barriers that prevent people from using recording systems.

Also available in FR SP

TG9 Creating a system to record tenure rights and first registration

This guide is about extending the recording or registration of tenure rights to people who currently are not served by systems to record their rights. It provides practical advice on ways to introduce a new system to record tenure rights and for the recording of rights for the first time by the state, a process that is sometimes called first registration.

Also available in FR SP

Now available in Chinese

TG4 Safeguarding land tenure rights in the context of agricultural investment

This guide has been developed in response to concerns regarding large-scale land acquisitions and the need to increase investment in agriculture. The guide supports application of the Voluntary Guidelines at the national level by providing technical guidance on how to safeguard tenure rights in the context of agricultural investments, including investment in land. It aims to provide additional guidance to government authorities engaged in the promotion, approval and monitoring of investments at all stages of the investment cycle.

Also available in EN FR SP AR

Now available in Spanish and Arabic

TG5 Responsible Governance of Tenure and the Law

This guide explores the legal dimensions of responsible governance of tenure. It supports the application of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure for Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security at the national level. The guide addresses the legal value of the Guidelines covering the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests by explaining the concept of legitimacy and reviewing the various stages of legislative processes, from legal assessment and law-making through to the implementation of legislation and the settlement of disputes.

Also available in EN FR

Now available in Arabic

TG6 Improving Governance of Pastoral Lands

The guide builds on a number of initiatives and studies from recent years that have shone a light on pastoral governance and land tenure: on the inherent challenges pastoralists face, the shortcomings of governments in securing pastoral tenure, and the emerging examples of success and progress from around the world. This guide provides solutions to securing pastoral governance and tenure without undermining the inherent, necessary complexity of customary arrangements. The solutions are within a rapidly changing context, in which traditional practices and crucial patterns of livestock mobility are transforming.

Also available in EN FR Portuguese

Now available in Chinese and Arabic

TG 7 Responsible governance of tenure: a technical guide for investors

This technical guide explains how investors can invest responsibly in agricultural land in line with the Voluntary Guidelines. Although the Voluntary Guidelines address both forests and fisheries this guide focuses only on investments in agricultural land. It is not an attempt to set new standards but toexplains what the Voluntary Guidelines mean and how they can help firms to understand and manage risk related to land tenure.

Also available in EN FR SP

Land Tenure Journal 2016/01

This issue of the Land Tenure Journal includes a geographically and technically diverse range of papers covering Europe, Africa, and Asia. They cover a variety of different situations where land tenure plays a key role in improving food security and reducing poverty: from land consolidation as an alternative to compulsory land acquisition in Germany; to rural land markets and land concentration in Romania; to the impact of secured land rights on crop productivity in Pakistan; to customary land associations and sustainability issues in Papua New Guinea; to addressing land conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through a Green Negotiated Territorial Development approach.

New videos

5th Anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines on Tenure

Over the past five years, there has been an extraordinary increase in awareness of the importance of, and the potential for the Voluntary Guidelines to make a real difference through responsible governance of tenure, which has been strongly reinforced by the SDGs. Continuous long-term commitment efforts to the Voluntary Guidelines by all stakeholders, in addressing tenure issues is needed to improve food security, reduce poverty, safeguard the environment and reduce conflicts. The video has been produced, with the financial support of the European Union, on the occasion of a high-level event to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines, held at FAO Headquarters on 10 October 2017.

Also available in FR SP AR CH RU