United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: NGOs

Land: NGO intervention at CSD 17 - IPM on Feb. 25th 2009
The lack of adequate and secure access to land and natural resources by the rural and urban poor
is one of the key causes of hunger and poverty in the world. This was highlighted by Sudan on
behalf of G77 and China. She said that ?land tenure security and equitable acess to land are key
for sustainable development and poverty reduction.? The Czech Republic on behalf of EU
further highlighted the FAO Guidelines on the right to food as an important tool in this regard.
The highly unequal distribution of land ownership in many countries remains an issue of
concern in a number of regions around the world. In rural areas, the trend towards
reconcentration of land ownership and the reversal of redistributive agrarian reform processes
can be observed in countries with traditionally more egalitarian patterns of access to land.
Tenure insecurity is one of the most urgent issues to be tackled in order to immediately secure
the livelihoods of the rural and urban populations. Land grabbing, violent dispossession and
displacement from armed conflicts, extractive industries, tourism, industrial and infrastructure
projects, accelerated urbanisation, and last, but not least, the promotion of agrofuels, represent a
severe threat to rural communities. At the same time, private investors have discovered foreign
farmland as a new source of profit. In the course of the current financial crisis, small farmers
with debts are threaten by loosing their land due to foreclosure.
Land and natural resources are vital for the realization of the full range of human rights of the
most marginalized groups like women, indigenous peoples, peasants, landless rural workers,
fisherfolks, pastoralists and ethnic groups. Therefore, using a human rights framework in
developing land policies is key particularly for addressing the unequal relationships of power
which are behind unjust and unsustainable land tenure structures.
Priorities for action:
? There is a need for agrarian reforms which ensure secure tenure and an equitable access
to land and natural resources. A territorial approach to land policies which integrates the
worldviews of different rural constituencies is needed. We recall the important work of
ICARRD, the conference on agrarian reform and rural development that took place in
? Given the fact that women?s ownership is as low as 2% in some countries, recognition of
the rights of women over land, ensuring their access to and jurisdiction over land and
natural resources, and guaranteeing their representation in decision-making is vital.
? Recognition of the socio-environmental functions of land, water and natural resources.
? Transparent and inclusive processes in the development of land policies that are peoplecentered,
recognize diverse tenure systems, and involve innovative and accessible
systems of recognition of land rights of both men and women. Sustainable land
management, conservation and agro-ecological strategies centered on peasant and family
? Trade policies that favour livestock-based livelihoods and peasant and indigenous
production for local, regional and national markets.