Global Donor Platform for Rural Development
Godesberger Allee 119 | 53175 Bonn | Germany
phone: +49 228 249 341 65
fax: +49 228 249 342 15
Rural livelihoods and the productivity and sustainability of most rural economic activities depend directly on the sustainable use of natural resources — in particular land, soil, woodland, pasture and water. However tenure systems in developing countries are often complex and combine multiple regimes (common property, state-owned land, usufruct rights and private property), with limited institutional capacity to address a wide range of challenges.
Good land and water management practices are only one element of a solution to substantially increasing the productivity of small-scale farms, which will have to produce more food using less of these resources. Measures need to go beyond increasing access to technology and innovations to establishing appropriate institutions and policies.
The growing number and scale of international land acquisitions in developing countries, particularly in Africa, has in several cases negatively affected local food security. Attempts by investors to secure access to water sources are also increasing. While the increased interest of private and public actors in investing in agriculture is necessary after decades of underinvestment, effective regulatory frameworks that above all benefit and protect the rights of the poor and marginalised are needed to improve food security, respect rights and to ensure sustainable management of land and other natural resources.
It is increasingly recognised that climate change will have strong implications for the sustainable use of land and water, both of which suffer from degradation and competition over their use in vulnerable areas. Climate change will exacerbate already existing competition and conflict over resources such as for agricultural and nonagricultural use as well as between rural and urban areas.
Ensuring fair access to natural assets such as land and water — and securing land and water rights for women, indigenous peoples and smallholders in particular — is widely acknowledged as vital to encouraging sustainable management of resources and more equitable investments in agriculture, including in relevant CFS, FAO and G20 policy statements.
Good governance of land, soil and water is particularly important to ensure fair and more equitable access to land and water. Platform members recognise that this involves the establishment of appropriate policies and institutions related to land and natural resource use. Ultimately, this is a precondition for food security in rural areas (see the Platform’s 2006 Joint Donor Concept). It is also critical to the development of effective responses to climate change and sustainable farming systems, particularly for smallholders.
Donor approaches to supporting land tenure security and sustainable land use range from supporting regulatory frameworks and reforms, sustainable land use planning, conflict resolution, to land administration and registration (titling), depending on context, needs and capacities. Improving women's and poor and vulnerable smallholders' secure access to land, water and natural resources are a common feature in supported interventions. Such interventions should respect and take into account the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
Rights to access land and water are closely intertwined in the rural space. Good governance of these resources requires effective local and national regulatory frameworks.
Most donors support international efforts such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure or the ECA/AfDB Land Policy Initiative that support setting up effective regulatory frameworks and responsible governance systems that recognise and protect legitimate tenure rights, as well as improve transparency and accountability in land-related decisionmaking. These commitments are likely to expand as the need to address large-scale international land acquisitions and secure land rights becomes more urgent.
The access of agricultural producers, especially smallholder and women farmers, to water, irrigation and affordable water technologies is essential to ensure food security and is often related to access to land. The emergence of international water acquisitions and water grabbing is of concern.
Donors support a range of initiatives related to land policy and strengthening land governance in developing countries. Harmonisation of donor and IFI actions is particularly important because of the complex nature of tenure-related issues. Donors have also supported the development of innovative risk management and risk transfer tools such as drought insurance at national and regional levels.
Combined revision of the 2006 joint donor concept on rural development and the 2009 joint donor principles for ARD programmes.
In addition to jointly supporting the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines many donors are working with the international community on the development and implementation of investment principles through the CFS rai process to prevent contested large-scale land acquisitions and to ensure transparency in relation to land-based and other agricultural investments, taking full account of the interests of communities affected by such land acquisitions.