Governance of Tenure

Governance of tenure newsletter

01 November 2016

Committee on World Food Security (CFS)

CFS, the UN forum for policies concerning food security, included a global thematic event on the Voluntary Guidelines at its 43rd session, held in Rome during 17-21 October 2016. The event provided an opportunity to share experiences of using the Voluntary Guidelines following their negotiation and endorsement by CFS in 2012. Good practices identified include ensuring political will and sustained commitment to improve tenure governance, empowering stakeholders and enabling them to develop the capacity to engage in tenure issues and defend their rights, and establishing inclusive multi-stakeholder platforms and linking them to processes to reform policies, laws and systems. A number of side events expanded on the various aspects of improving tenure governance. A common message was linking improvements of tenure with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read more about CFS 43 

Central America Region

© FAO / Javier Molina

Representatives of indigenous peoples met at a workshop to share 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. Coming from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, the 25 indigenous representatives had participated in a year-long programme on capacity development for indigenous peoples, which ended with the workshop, held during 8-12 August in Panama City. Following a learning event in February, the participants carried out activities in their own communities and prepared papers on issues of relevance for the workshop. The programme was designed and implemented by FAO and the Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CADPI).

Read more on CADPI 

North Africa Region


Sixteen representatives of producer organizations from Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia participated in a learning event aimed at improving the use of the Voluntary Guidelines in the region. Participants were introduced to the content of the Voluntary Guidelines and they collectively prepared a plan of action for protecting the land rights of farmers in their countries. They underlined the key role to be played by producer organizations to facilitate the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines in the region and recommended having training sessions in countries. The event also provided participants with a forum to share and discuss land tenure issues in the region. It was held in Hammamet, Tunisia, during 26-29 September 2016 and was organized by FAO in collaboration with the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies through its Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Montpellier. 

Mekong Region

© MRLG Project

A Regional Land Forum was held in Hanoi, Viet Nam during 20-23 June in the context of the Mekong Region Land Governance Project. The Voluntary Guidelines are addressed in a cross-cutting way in the project, and the forum included a session on the recognition of customary tenure and the link with the Voluntary Guidelines. The session provided participants from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam with an opportunity to identify ways to improve the recognition of customary tenure in their countries, taking into account the newly formulated policies and laws. The session was coordinated by the project, Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact and FAO, while the forum was organized by the project, the Economic Committee of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, GIZ and the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development. 


The proposed peace agreement addresses the need for a comprehensive rural reform programme which is intended to contribute to structural transformation of the field, closing gaps between rural and urban areas. It is anticipated that the Voluntary Guidelines represent a central instrument for addressing tenure issues in the programme. 



In June 2016, 30 facilitators participated in a learning event to support local processes for responsible governance of communal land in accordance with the Voluntary Guidelines. The event addressed the use of participatory communication methods and audiovisual material on communal tenure rights. The facilitators represented rural and forestry institutions, producer groups, civil society and indigenous peoples’ organizations. Following the event, the facilitators worked in pilot areas to raise awareness, facilitate social dialogue and generate local action plans for improved governance and recognition of communal land. The event was organized and funded by FAO in collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of San Carlos.

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See the video (Spanish) 


© FAO / Giuseppe Bizzarri   

A workshop on governance and responsible land-based investments in agriculture, with specific emphasis on due diligence, brought together over 30 participants, including 22 different public and private sector organizations. Private sector enterprises represented included the Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé and Unilever, which have already endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines, as well as national companies. Discussions focused on ways to increase interest in due diligence issues with national companies, embracing legally and socially legitimate tenure rights of people. The workshop referred to the Voluntary Guidelines and the work of the Interlaken Group, and represented an important step of an ongoing discussion. It was held on 14 June 2016 in Yangon and was supported by USAID, Land Core Group, European Union and FAO.


© FAO / S. Gajurel

During 17-18 July 2016, about 110 participants from government, civil society, private sector and academia prepared a nine-point resolution identifying key areas for action at a national workshop in Kathmandu on mainstreaming the Voluntary Guidelines in national priority areas. The workshop was facilitated by The Lutheran World Federation Nepal and the DanChurchAid Nepal and was part of a programme implemented by the Ministry of Agricultural Development, Ministry of Land Reform and Management, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation and FAO, with financial support from the United Kingdom (DFID). 



A training event on increasing the use of the Voluntary Guidelines among civil society and grassroots organizations brought together 25 participants (10 female and 15 male) from 21 different organizations. It also aimed at strengthening collaboration between these organizations. The participants prepared three action plans (for indigenous peoples, for farmers and for fisherfolk) to be implemented during the following year. The event was held during 11-14 July 2016 in Tagaytay and was organized and conducted by ANGOC, which adapted the framework designed by FAO and FIAN International to the conditions of the Philippines, with the financial support from Belgium. 

Read more on ANGOC 

Sierra Leone

  Workshop participants using open source software for tenure rights  © FAO / Christian Schulze

Two workshops allowed participants to understand more clearly the new National Land Policy, its implementation plan and the role of enabling technologies in the proposed National Land Information System, and to identify areas in the ongoing land reform process in which they have an active role to play. A workshop on 3 October was tailored for 45 staff of the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and Environment, while a workshop on 5-6 October was designed for 55 participants from government agencies, civil society organizations, the private sector and academia. The workshops were organized by FAO with financial support from Germany, as a follow-up to support provided earlier to the development of the new policy and implementation plan. Technical assistance is being provided by FAO to the Ministry through a digital land registration pilot and the customization of Solutions for Open Land Administration (SOLA) software, with the financial support of Germany.


© FAO / Chiara Nicodemi

A workshop on “Safeguarding land tenure rights in the context of agricultural investments” served as an interactive event for 25 participants from government ministries who had previously participated in an online training course. The programme aimed at helping participants to create an enabling environment for responsible and sustainable investments in agriculture consistent with the Voluntary Guidelines. Participants prepared action plans and received support for one month during the mentoring phase that followed the workshop. A set of recommendations for implementing the Voluntary Guidelines was prepared and presented to the Voluntary Guidelines Steering Committee. The workshop was organized on 18-22 July 2016 in Jinja by FAO, under the auspices of the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development, and with financial support of the United Kingdom (DFID).
The national Secretariat for the Voluntary Guidelines was inaugurated on 1 September 2016 to support the Voluntary Guidelines Steering Committee, which is chaired by the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development and co-chaired by FAO. The Secretariat is hosted in the Ministry, and comprises representatives from the Ministry, Makerere University and FAO.

International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)

Strengthening land governance in professional surveying curricula and academic research is the focus of the Academic Members’ Forum of FIG. The forum is currently conducting research initiatives on the impact of the Voluntary Guidelines on the surveying profession and the way in which the Voluntary Guidelines are represented in surveying curricula around the world. The topic was addressed at the meeting of the forum during the FIG Working Week, held in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 5 May 2016, and the first results of the research will be presented at the next FIG Working Week to take place in Helsinki, Finland in May 2017. The forum includes over 80 universities.

Read more on the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) Academic Members’ Forum and its meeting during FIG Working Week 2016.
Read more on the FIG Working Week 2017 

Regional conference: Lands and territories in the Americas

The conference was held in Bogotá, Colombia, during 26-28 August 2016, and the theme of land, territories and rural development was placed in the context of the peace agreement in Colombia. The meeting was held at the Externado University of Colombia as a regional continuation of earlier international conferences on the topic, held in 2011 (University of Sussex, United Kingdom) and 2012 (Cornell University, United States of America).