Publicatie / 15 August 2017

Reference guide on infrastructure set against land governance

The past years Both ENDS and its partners have witnessed a surge in large infrastructure projects including dams, mines, highways, airports, ports, land reclamation, canals and urban renewal projects. Yet, the land assigned to these projects is often inhabited and used for agricultural purposes. Therefore, land governance issues play an important role in these infrastructure projects. Worldwide some 15 million people are displaced annually through infrastructure projects, a number which is expected to rise as investments in infrastructure are increasing.

Infrastructure and land governance issues
We do not see infrastructure in itself as necessarily negative. Infrastructure is closely related to socio-economic development. As the Habitat agenda III stresses, many people worldwide have a serious lack of access to adequate infrastructure. So when does infrastructure become problematic?

In countries where the rule of law is weak and people do not have security of tenure, eminent domain (the right for states to acquire property against the will of its owner in order to fulfil some purpose of general interest) can become a dangerous tool. Eminent domain in itself is necessary, otherwise it would hardly be possible to construct a road for example. The tension is in what exactly justifies expropriation for a public good: How is the project implemented in relation to human rights? What is the quality of participation? The quality of compensation? Also: for whom is the infrastructure? What alternatives are there for implementation in a way that is more responsible?

Knowledge gaps on land governance
Both ENDS, together with our local partners, aims to prevent land rights violations in infrastructure projects. Yet, we see that knowledge on infrastructure and land governance falls short in many cases. In order to learn from and get inspired by other cases and understand how international frameworks and guidelines try to protect land rights, we have set up this reference guide: a list of must-reads on land governance and infrastructure. We hope that it will help both civil society organisations on the one hand, and investors, companies and governments on the other hand, to increase their understanding of local land governance issues that may arise in infrastructure projects.


Download the searchable reference guide in excel

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