LANDac: The IS Academy on Land Governance for Equitable and Sustainable Development
LANDac, the IS Academy on Land Governance for Equitable and Sustainable Development, aims at bringing together researchers, policy makers and practitioners in the field of land governance and development.
Land Governance for Equitable and Sustainable Development
LANDac is a partnership between several Dutch organisations and their Southern partners involved in development-related research, policy and practice. The partners share a concern for increasing land inequality and new land-related conflicts, and how land governance – rules and practices on access to land – can be used to promote equitable and sustainable development in the Global South.
LANDac is one of the IS Academies for International Cooperation sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
• International Development Studies, Utrecht University (leading partner)
• African Studies Centre, Leiden
• Agriterra, Arnhem
• Disaster Studies, Wageningen University
• Hivos, The Hague
• Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam
• Sustainable Economic Development Department (Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs), The Hague
• Triodos Facet, Zeist
1. Contents and themes
The focus of the IS-academy is on how local people and policy makers deal with new pressures and competing claims on land and natural resources, while maximising opportunities for inclusive and equitable development. We pay special attention to changing institutionnal dimensions (new land policies and legislation, decentralisation) and current trends of large-scale land acquisition by investors, foreign and national. These latter claims occur in a context of other pressures on land, such as demographic shifts, climate change and environmental degradation. Together, these changes compel us to reconsider the issue of land governance.
In analysing the trends, we will focus on the following questions:
A. What are the characteristics of land acquisition and to what extent are they substantiated by facts? (Need for empirical information: what is true and what is not?)
B. What are the implications for equitable and sustainable development? (Analyzing this from the perspective of local groups, including business people and local government)
C. What can be done to improve land governance, in view of the goals of sustainable and equitable development?
Ad A. What are the characteristics?
The analysis of characteristics seeks to distinguish facts from unsubstantiated claims and media hype in land issues. These trends may relate to (a) changes in land use, land distribution and tenure relations; (b) the actors involved in these changes, and (c) changes in institutions governing access to land and natural resources (including transfers, changes in bundles of rights, land tenure arrangements, and conflict resolution). The IS Academy will try to clarify what changes take place and identify the major drivers or forces responsible for the observed trends.
Ad. B. What are the implications for equitable and sustainable development?
In IS Academy activities we aim to gain a better understanding of the impact of large-scale land acquisition and similar processes of change for sustainable, equitable and participatory development including the implications for smallholder production systems. We will focus on the following dimensions: implications for tenure security, for food security and local livelihoods (income, employment and productivity), environmental and climatic aspects, gender relations, inter-generational relations (age groups); vulnerability to conflicts and/or tensions; rural-urban relations; taking into account people’s aspirations.
Ad. C. Land governance policy for equitable and sustainable development
A central concern in this IS-academy is how to deal with current land issues, such as processes of large-scale land acquisition and other pressures on land (demographics, small-scale land acquisitions, natural resource degradation, effects of climate change), within the prevailing context of governance. Key elements as part of a code of conduct for foreign land acquisition include the following:
• Transparency in negotiations
• Respect for existing land rights, including customary and common property rights
• Sharing of benefits
• Environmental sustainability
• Adherence to national trade policies
New land policies that create more space for subsidiarity and more recognition of existing (informal) tenure system, decentralization and the rise of multi-level government and governance through participation of different stakeholders are important contextual factors here. These factors can contribute to effective land governance contributing to sustainable and equitable development, also for local actors. In other words, how can the agency of local stakeholders (including local government, resource management institutions, farmer organisations and other CSO etc.) be optimized in increasingly multi-level and interdependent governance settings? How can responsible and effective governance systems be encouraged?
Fields where the IS-academy can contribute:
• Improvement of the data and knowledge base for informed decision making and providing actors with sufficient information for effective negotiations.
• Analysis of how to improve regulation and controlling capacity. Assess experiences with sustainability criteria, rights frameworks, regulations, codes of conduct etc. in other domains for equity and sustainability
• Comparative analysis of possibilities for low cost land registration in favour of securing rights and optimizing equity and development opportunities
• Conflict resolution in relation to land.
• Strengthening land use planning capacity.
• Coordination and alignment of institutions (state and non-state) (vertical and horizontally) to improve land governance
• How to overcome the vulnerabilities of communal lands and optimizing their potential for development (using them as collateral?)
2. General statement about the approach
The main thrust of the IS Academy is to bridge the gap between academia, policy making and implementation by making existing knowledge accessible, filling the knowledge gaps and updating the policy agenda. It differs from regular research programs because of a systematic collaboration between policy makers, practitioners and academia, including their respective (southern) partners.
A. Concrete information/ providing empirical evidence
Our contribution to the improvement of policy and practise will be based on solid data and information, which includes facilitating access to existing knowledge. Research should provide us with empirical evidence for the observed trends (what is happening?). And what is the impact for different groups? We could take up the role of monitoring and reporting on a number of important trends (comparison between countries), and sharing this information with our target groups which will help them to strengthen their performance in negotiations and advocacy.
B. The strength of comparison and arriving at general lessons
Research will be empirically based (‘what is happening – what is the impact for different groups’). This will require case-studies for a proper understanding of how things work, but much emphasis is given to drawing conclusions at a more general level (what can A learn from B) and to explore the possibilities for generalizations. We will also undertake meta-analysis of existing case studies and best practices to draw lessons for policy and practice. (Learning on the basis of comparison)
C. Selection of a number of representative countries
In order to streamline our efforts, we will make a selection of a number of representative countries. We focus preferably on those countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are confronted with a ‘broad agenda’ (having to deal with the various dimensions of land governance). An important criterion for selecting countries is also the joint interest shown by our partner organizations (common ground), and available capacities.
D. Conflict/ post-conflict situations
Part of the activities will focus on countries with conflict/ post-conflict conditions. This is considered interesting given that these situations result in particular types of land ‘grabbing’ and is also relevant in relation to the displacement of populations and/or the return-agenda.
E. Applicability of results
In carrying out research, we’ll take the need of our partner organizations as the point of departure for the generation of applicable knowledge. Partners may be selected from these groups:
- Local populations, strengthening their link with local government in defending their rights – and in negotiating with ‘external’ actors.
- Farmers organizations and NGOs: concrete data/ information about rights etc. will help farmer’s organizations and other CSO involved in land and natural resource rights issues.
- Entrepreneurs (through financial institutions, NGOs or government): regulatory frameworks, certification; guidelines / codes of conducts etc. will support them in acting in a socially responsible way.
- Policy makers, CSO and NGOs: concrete data/ information will help them in agenda setting, engaging in policy making, implementation and monitoring around land governance.
- Donor organizations (providing them with information – positioning in policy debates in various sectors; stimulating the debate).
F. Building on the basis of existing knowledge
The IS-academy will build on what exists (make use of existing material) and try to strengthen the links with ongoing research projects:
- For access to existing documentation, KIT-ILS will provide library and documentation services and
- We work to strengthen the link with other IS-academies (via WU and ASC), starting with a lecture by Paul Mathieu at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (December 16)
- Special attention will be given to the current WB-research (20 countries). Follow up will be defined as soon as the first results are available.
- Coordination with other ongoing research (e.g., PLAAS- southern Africa; Competing claims WUR (Mozambique in particular); IFAD, IIED.
We will link the IS-academy ‘land governance’ with a number of new research projects (parallel implementation). The following programmes will be carried out linked to the IS-academy:
• Agriculture beyond Food (Indonesia – programme on the expansion of oil palm and jatropha and the implications for livelihoods)/ NWO (IDS) 2010-2014
• SANPAD South Africa
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