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FAO Adopts Land Guidelines while Transparency Remains Top Priority

On May 11, 2012, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations endorsed voluntary guidelines to fight against land grabs and “safeguard the rights of people to own or access land and forests,” according to the Associated Press.  The guidelines put forth principles and practices that governments can rely on when making and administering laws concerning farmland, fisheries, and forest rights.  The guidelines are a result of intergovernmental negotiations and consultations that began in 2009, amidst growing Agency concern of land grabbing.

 According to FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva, the guidelines usher in an era of a “shared vision”  regarding global land tenure guidelines and policy.  The guidelines make specific reference to best practices for “registration and transfer of tenure rights and managing expropriations and restitution of land ‘to people who were  forcibly evicted in the past,’ as well as the rights of indigenous communities.”  The guidelines, however, must now be implemented by the endorsing nations.

A particular issue of concern in recent years has been the lack of transparency surrounding large-scale land  investments.  Without a clear understanding of the stakes and processes involved in land investments, already-vulnerable communities in many target countries are at an inherent disadvantage in protecting their lands and their rights to these lands.  To mitigate this problem, the International Land Coalition and Landtenure.info have developed the Land Portal to equip governments and policy makers, civil society organizations, and development practitioners with the data and tools to track large-scale land investments.

Namati Community Land Protection Program Director, Rachael Knight, highlighted the crucial need for the Land Portal, explaining that “it significantly increases transparency and may play a role in helping citizens of investor nations and shareholders of investor corporations to hold governments and companies accountable to protecting community land and natural resources rights.”  The Land Portal, available through Namati’s tools database, is an important initiative to increase awareness and understanding of land investments and governance around the world.

May 16, 2012 | Namati

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