Blog / 25 September 2017

Bringing good practice to the UNCCD conference

Access to, ownership and control over land is inherently part of a successful implementation of land degradation neutrality (LDN) and sustainable land management. Sustainability often means investing for the long term, and insecurity withholds land users to do so. In particular women's land use rights are fundamental as they are the ones working on the land and thus putting LDN into practice.


Dryland Ordos 1 web

The drylands around Ordos

Last June I took part in community meetings on land tenure security in Monze District, Zambia. The communities engaged in participatory land use planning processes. This involved trainings of community parasurveyors, awareness raising activities, mapping of land user rights and an open dialogue within the community and with authorities. Besides a community land use plan, the most remarkable impact of this process was the stories women shared with me.

The women explained how their husbands engaged in conversations about their own land use rights. Some gave their wifes a part of the land and officially recognized it. Others started to collectively manage the lands. The women indicated that they now feel much more confident that they will be able to have ownership over the land in the long run –also in case their husband would die or they would divorce- and are increasingly engaged to invest in and sustainably use their land with a long-term view.


community meeting PLUP Zambia web

Community meeting about participatory land use planning in Zambia

This is just one of the numerous examples of community-driven initiatives to strengthen women's land tenure security. It illustrates the importance of recognizing women's land rights in sustainable land use and the implementation of LDN. Access to, ownership and control over land for women is a prerequisite to realize Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15.3: implement LDN and sustainable land use.

Fortunately, there are international guidelines that stress the importance of good land governance and strengthened land tenure rights, especially of women and small-scale farmers, pastoralists, youth, indigenous peoples and poor people. I'm referring to the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT). These guidelines were formulated in 2012 after profound consultations with all stakeholder groups and are adopted by the FAO Council and the UN member states as a response to the land (use) rights insecurities of local communities. The guidelines provide governments with guidance on how to ensure good land governance, which is crucial when restoring lands and implementing LDN. Both ENDS sees the VGGT as an opportunity for governments to ensure women's rights to land to enable them to sustainably use their lands.

Therefore, here in Ordos I'm doing everything I can to ensure the VGGT are adopted and implemented in the UNCCD Future Strategic Framework, National Action Plans and LDN target setting. This would lead to more cases of the above-mentioned gender-sensitive good land governance practices.

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