News from Tourism Concern
Countries adopt global guidelines on tenure of land, forests, fisheries
Posted: May 31, 2012
In a landmark decision designed to help prevent land-grabs, especially in developing countries, on 11 May the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) endorsed a set of far-reaching global guidelines aimed at helping governments safeguard the rights of people to own or access land, forests and fisheries.
Such protection could help prevent against government and corporate land-grabs in the name of tourism development.
The new Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security outline principles and practices that governments can refer to when making laws and administering land, fisheries and forests rights.
The guidelines are based on an inclusive consultation process started by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in 2009 and finalised through CFS-led intergovernmental negotiations. These included participation of government officials, civil society organizations, private sector representatives, international organisations and academics. The guidelines aim to promote food security and sustainable development by improving secure access to land, fisheries and forests and protecting the rights of millions of often very poor people.
The guidelines address a wide range of issues that relate them to tourism-related land-grabs, including:
- Recognition and protection of legitimate tenure rights, including under informal systems
- Managing expropriations and restitution of land to people who were forcibly evicted in the past
- Rights of indigenous communities
- Mechanisms for resolving disputes over tenure rights
However, although a positive step, the Guidelines remain a voluntary initiative and can therefore simply be ignored by governments. Indeed, this is particularly likely to be done by those governments with poor human rights records and a history of land-grabbing, such as the Government of Sri Lanka.
"Giving poor and vulnerable people secure and equitable rights to access land and other natural resources is a key condition in the fight against hunger and poverty. It is a historic breakthrough that countries have agreed on these first-ever global land tenure guidelines. We now have a shared vision. It's a starting point that will help improve the often dire situation of the hungry and poor," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
While the guidelines acknowledge that responsible investments by the public and private sectors are essential for improving food security, they also recommend that safeguards be put in place to protect tenure rights of local people from risks that could arise from large-scale land acquisitions, and also to protect human rights, livelihoods, food security and the environment.
Investment models exist that do not result in the large-scale acquisition of land, and these alternative models should be promoted. Investments should also promote policy objectives such as boosting local food security and promoting food security, poverty eradication and job creation, and "provide benefits to the country and its people, including the poor and most vulnerable."
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