Governance of Tenure

Governance of tenure newsletter

24 March 2020
 The “Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security” are referred to as the “Voluntary Guidelines" or the VGGT in this newsletter.



Land Tenure Journal - Call for submissions!

We are looking for quality articles that highlight important global or regional experiences and best practices related to land and natural resources tenure, lessons learned in the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT). The article should be in support of a global land agenda, emerging tenure issues and cross-cutting themes, and propose ways forward to meet challenges that the land and natural resources tenure sector is facing in the context of the 2030 Agenda and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To facilitate the discourse on tenure governance issues, sharing and dissemination of land tenure experiences and in view of the recent cancellation of the 21st Land and Poverty Conference “Institutions for Equity and Resilience”, you may wish to consider submitting articles based on your approved, but perhaps unpublished paper(s) for publication in the FAO Land Tenure Journal (LTJ). Submission requirements can be accessed here.

The Land Tenure Journal is a peer-reviewed, open-access flagship journal of the Land Tenure unit (PSPL) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Launched in early 2010, it is a successor to the Land Reform, Land Settlement and Cooperatives magazine, which was published between 1964 and 2009.

The Journal is a medium for the dissemination of quality information and diversified views on land and natural resources tenure.

For more information please contact [email protected], or visit the Governance of Tenure website.

Egri, North Macedonia: from pilot to successfully adopted majority-based land consolidation plan


FAO’s land consolidation work in Europe and Central Asia reached a key milestone on 29 January 2020 with the successful adoption of the first majority-based land consolidation plan in Egri, North Macedonia. The Land Re-allotment Plan was adopted by the Land Consolidation Assembly with a qualified majority of 83 percent of landowners in the village of Egri. Egri is one of two land consolidation pilots initiated under the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme in North Macedonia in 2015 to screen the national legal and institutional framework for land consolidation and provide recommendations for operationalization of the National Land Consolidation Programme. Building on the pilot experience, through the ongoing EU-funded project ‘Mainstreaming of the National Land Consolidation Programme’ (MAINLAND), FAO assists the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy of North Macedonia  to implement the first round of land consolidation projects under the National Programme, by developing the expertise and strengthening the technical and administrative capacities of the ministry and key national stakeholders.

The land consolidation process in Egri concerns 336 ha of agricultural area targeting 214 landowners. The Re-allotment Plan resulted in almost fourfold reduction in the number of land parcels (from 874 to 260), which are now better shaped and allow for better farming practices. The Plan also includes investments in agricultural infrastructure improvements in the land consolidation area, including access roads, irrigation and drainage systems to be covered by the EU-funded MAINLAND project.

“The results from the land consolidation in Egri are an excellent example of successful land consolidation also in an international perspective” stated Land Tenure Officer Morten Hartvigsen. It is clear evidence of how these projects can lead to improved tenure structures that support sustainable and long-term rural development. Egri will serve as a model for the ongoing implementation of nine other land consolidation projects under the MAINLAND project, as well as for future projects under the National Land Consolidation Programme in North Macedonia.

On Flickr

Water contains fish, food and jobs!

In collaboration with the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), FAO is extending the understanding of responsible governance of tenure with the upcoming workshop Tenure, Access and User Rights of the Great Lakes and Inland Water Bodies of the World in Entebbe, Uganda (postponed until September 2020).

This meeting is the third in a series of workshops to enhance and gather knowledge about tenure, access and user rights in the fisheries sector. The aim is to accelerate the uptake and application of the VGGT and the Small-scale Fisheries Guidelines while also improving guidance on appropriate tenure systems and rights-based approaches for fisheries at regional, national and local levels.

Process plus results: To gather comparable knowledge and information, the workshops are designed to:

  • share information and practical experiences by having the participants “tell their stories” about tenure and user rights in their fisheries;
  • identify the main challenges and good practices in the region;
  • gather participants’ reactions and feedback on how things are the same or different in their fisheries (what, how, and why); and
  • develop ideas on appropriate next steps.

Previous meetings examined regional nuances and specificities of Southeast Asia and Bay of Bengal (September 2019) and Latin America and the Caribbean (October 2019). Additional regional workshops aim to cover the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea, Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean, West Africa, the Pacific and more.

FAO Tanzania: guidelines on responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries, forests (VGGT) key to food security

©FAO/Emmanuel Kihaule

Tenure rights to land and other natural resources are fundamental to food and shelter, which are the key elements of social and cultural practices underpinning Tanzania’s economic growth.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam recently, FAO Tanzania’s National Land Officer, Beatha Fabian, pointed out that security of tenure of natural resources such as land, fisheries and forests was key since food security of billions of people in the world depends on it.

“Agriculture very much depends on security of tenure of the natural resources. The sector is important, as it is the main source of food, employment and cash for many people. Here in Tanzania it contributes about twenty-five percent of Gross Domestic Product and thirty percent of export earnings while employing about sixty-seven percent of the labour force,” she said. 

For full article

 Voluntary Guidelines underpin new REDD+ project in Democratic Republic of the Congo

© FAO/Amanda Bradley

In Equateur Province in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), FAO recently launched a four-year Integrated Programme on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), aimed to address drivers such as logging, shifting agriculture and fuelwood extraction. Among its activities, the project will support the formalization of customary tenure rights for local communities and indigenous peoples under a progressive 2014 law allowing communities to secure tenure rights over up to 50,000 ha of forest land. 

A key kick-off activity for the project was a training course on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) held in mid-February 2020 for the project team, partners, representatives of relevant government departments as well as practitioners from local associations. Resource persons from indigenous peoples’ networks in the province also shared their knowledge and experience. The objective of the training was to build capacity on the FPIC process, so that trainees would understand the importance of the consent process and be prepared to implement it with indigenous peoples and local communities. The FPIC process, which is firmly embedded in international law (e.g. , ILO Convention 169, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), is a FAO requirement for projects that affect indigenous peoples or their territories.  The Voluntary Guidelines were an important component to this training since they enshrine the importance of respect for customary tenure.  This training was just one example of how the Guidelines will underpin and provide valuable principles and direction as this project moves forward. 

Training of the Network of Mauritanian Female Parliamentarians on the Voluntary Guidelines


In Mauritania, access to land is one of the major challenges for sustainable development and its regulation is an important factor of social cohesion. Today, this issue is central to the challenges relating to investments in the field of agriculture, a vital sector for achieving food security in the country. In this context, the Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT) is a relevant tool for improving tenure governance.

The Réseau des Organisations de la Sécurité Alimentaire (ROSA), FAO partner in the implementation of the VGGT program in Mauritania benefited from capacity building on the Voluntary Guidelines and land governance in 2017 and in 2018.

In February 2020, ROSA, playing the role of trainer,  with the technical support of FAO, organized two training sessions on these subjects for young journalists and the réseau des femmes parlementaires mauritaniennes (Network of Mauritanian Female Parliamentarians).

These training courses, provided at a  time when Mauritania is engaged in a land reform process, were highly appreciated by the various actors.

In support of the dissemination of the VGGT and their implementation tools, in particular FPIC, these training sessions were accompanied by an action plan focused, among other things, on advocacy for the inclusion of the VGGT in state policy on the one hand and dissemination in rural areas on the other.  

Role of VGGT/tenure governance multi-stakeholder platforms in Senegal recognized by government and partners


Created in March 2014 by the Government of Senegal, CSOs and other actors, the national VGGT/Land Governance platform has progressively become an important actor in the land policy dialogue and the improvement of governance of tenure. From the beginning, FAO has supported the implementation of the platform’s action plan and the coordination of its Tenure Governance Steering Committee (TGSC).

A new important step was taken recently with the consideration of the platform's opinions in the formulation of a new World Bank project that aims to create a multifunctional cadaster in Senegal.

FAO has also played a key role in facilitating dialogue between the Platform, the Ministry of Finance and Budget and the World Bank, in particular through information sharing and contact facilitation. Through capitalization meetings and field visits, FAO and the TGSC have presented the main outcomes of the projects implemented, identifying potential intervention areas for the World Bank project, such as the Niayes, where the TGSC is currently implementing a pilot project aiming to develop a holistic and participatory approach of natural resources management.

A TGSC representative is now included in project coordination and formulation (the Decree on the Project Coordination and Formulation Unit for 18 months includes various concerned ministries, one CSO representative and one from TGSC). The TGSC has submitted a recommendation document on project formulation to the WB mission. The more relevant recommendations have been taken up, presented to and discussed with the government, and reflected in the Aide-Mémoire. Another important impact of this dialogue is the inclusion of the Ministry of Finance and Budget in the TGSC, which has since held two meetings together and discussed the formulation of the cadastre project and the COPIL’s achievements and lessons learned.

The recognition of the role of the Platform by the government and the World Bank is promising for the future, particularly for project implementation. It represents a certain guarantee that the various partners’ voices will be taken into consideration, for the benefit of the rural population.

Niger installs its National Transhumance Committee

© FAO/Ingeborg Gaarde

On 20 November 2019, the President of the Republic of Niger signed a decree for the establishment of a National Transhumance Committee (CNT). This is a historic step to address the increasing number of transhumance conflicts in the Sahel region. The installation of the CNT, which took place on 16January 2020, is in line with the transhumance regulations between ECOWAS member states recommending that each country establish a National Transhumance Committee to support a peaceful cross-border transhumance.

The National Transhumance Committee in Niger has a multi-stakeholder composition that includes government representatives, traditional leaders, local authorities and pastoralist organizations. It is linked directly to the Regional Transhumance Committees (CRT) installed by executive order of the governors in five regions: Tillabery, Tahoua, Zinder, Diffa, Dosso, with transhumance movements in Nigeria, Benin, Mali and Chad.

FAO has supported the installation of the National Transhumance Committee as well as the strengthening of Regional Transhumance Committees in two regions of Niger, thanks to a collaboration with Le Réseau des Organisations des Pasteurs et Éleveurs du Niger (ROPEN), which is the legal national structure of the Réseau Billital Maroobé (RBM) in Niger.

The pastoral civil society organization is working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Livestock. It has also organized advocacy activities to promote partnerships with several different partners, among others the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the World Bank through the Regional Sahel Pastoralism Support Project (PRAPS), to build synergies and coordination among different initiatives for a peaceful transhumance in Sahel.

VGGT supports improving governance of pastoral lands in the IGAD Region


The improved governance of pastoral lands and securing legitimate tenure rights of pastoralists ensures that pastoral production systems contribute to improved livelihoods, food and nutrition security, and poverty eradication. Poor governance of pastoral lands hinders pastoral production systems from achieving their full potential in ensuring zero-hunger. From 3 – 5 December 2019, the FAO sub-regional office of Eastern Africa (FAO-SFE) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) jointly held a regional capacity building workshop on implementing the VGGT by promoting the application of the Technical Guide on Improving governance of pastoral lands.

The workshop was attended by 41 participants from Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Niger, Somaliland, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Parcipants were drawn from ministries in charge of land tenure and livestock, land commissions, pastoralist organizations, and partner agencies. After analyzing current legislation and practices concerning the governance of pastoral lands in each country, the participants elaborated recommendations, including national action plans, on how to secure pastoral land rights and pastoralist production systems. A key recommendation made was the need to provide enhanced technical and financial support to countries, together with the need to create participatory multi-actor committees and working groups to develop accountable decision-making and effective representation in each country.


Digitally-enabled development for a sustainable future in Eastern Europe

Digital technologies are profoundly changing our societies. They produce innovation in all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, industries and services. Digital technologies are expected to be a strategic policy area for years to come and there is an urgent need to be able to identify and address current and future challenges for the economy and society, evaluating impact and identifying areas requiring policy intervention. Still, good practices are fragmented, and rooted to a particular, often local, context which does not permit the region to fully benefit from the multitude of opportunities.

An international conference on “Digitally-enabled Development for a Sustainable Future in Eastern Europe was organized in Serbia in September 2019 to exchange good practices, establish partnerships, and to learn from one other.

Read more about the conference.

The publication is now available here.

EU JRC Technical Report with conference materials

New Publications


A practical guide to preparing, implementing and ensuring sustainability of reforms to property rights registration systems


A new e-book “Real Estate Registration and Cadastre. Practical Lessons and Experiences,” is available online for free and can be used as a basis for training, taking one chapter at a time, or for a two-three day workshop, or simply to read about experiences and lessons learned in other projects and programs.

The book is written in a conversational mode that explains what has been done and why. It is interspersed with stories and anecdotes of experiences from various countries that teach valuable lessons.

The intended audience is those who would lead or be involved in such projects or programs, including senior staff in government agencies, team leaders from financing partners or bilateral donor agencies and consultants (local or international) working in the sector.

Download a copy of the book here.


Tool to improve governance of pastoral lands developed by pastoralist civil society organizations in Niger

At the local level, Le Réseau des Organisations des Pasteurs et Éleveurs du Niger (ROPEN) has facilitated the creation of a capacity development tool to strengthen capacities of members of two Regional Transhumance Committees in Dosso and Tahoua. Together with local stakeholders, an image guide based on the VGGT and the technical guide ‘Improving Governance of Pastoral Lands’ was developed for pastoralists and other local stakeholders to contribute to improved governance of pastoral lands. In particular, the guide is a tool for local stakeholders to make use of inclusive consultation processes in the prevention and resolution of conflicts linked to disputes over access to natural resources.

The guide is unique because it was developed by pastoralist organizations who have trained others to make use of the guide during local activities organized along with pastoralist organisations, local leaders in cross-boundary communities in Dosso and Maradi. FAO will continue to support the training of more local stakeholders on the guide to improve governance of pastoral lands in Zinder. FAO’s support will include a field visit and meetings between local authorities in Niger and Nigeria as a part of the process of obtaining bilateral agreements and building peace and dialogue between pastoralist communities across border. 


Technical Guide on Improving Governance of Pastoral Lands is now available in Spanish

Despite the historical and often ongoing marginalization of pastoralists, this technical guide has been developed in response to emerging opportunities to support pastoralists and to strengthen their land and resource rights. Essential elements of sustainable pastoralism such as securing customary rights, mobility and effective participation of communities in decision-making processes have been connected to the role pastoralists play in sustainable natural resource management. In some countries, legislation and legal frameworks related to sustainable governance of pastoral land are already in place, but in a rapidly changing environment with emerging issues such as growing population, land degradation, climate change, rising insecurities, land privatization and diminishing resources, the need to strengthen responsible governance of tenure in pastoral land has never been more urgent.

Also available in Arabic, ChineseEnglish, FrenchPortuguese, Russian   

Why land rights matter: tenure rights for food security and poverty  

This quick start guide demonstrates the different ways that FAO is working to promote responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests, through the VGGT, with respect to all forms of tenure: public, private, communal, indigenous, customary, and informal.



 A wide variety of e-learning courses are available on the Responsible Governance of Tenure. Learn about:

  • making access to land, fisheries and forests more equitable
  • how to protect people's tenure rights
  • options to simplify the administration of tenure and make it accessible to all
  • how to ensure disputes are resolved before they degenerate into conflict

Browse all Responsible Governance of Tenure e-learning courses