United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

South Africa

25 FEBRUARY 2009
Chairperson, the South African delegation wishes to associate itself with the
statements made by Sudan on behalf of the G77 and China. We thank the
panellists for the well researched and thought provoking inputs.
In most developing countries rural development is an overarching theme on
which land reform, water, housing, agriculture etc are hanging.
Rural development and access to land and land tenure security are central to
measures to attain the internationally agreed poverty reduction targets outlined in
the Millennium Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
African countries are mostly natural resource based economies and land is
therefore integral to achieving sustainable development.
In this context South Africa recommends the following key policy options on the
thematic area of land:
? Agree with panelists on customary land management practices. Access to
land and security of tenure must be based on the principles of good
governance, including recognizing the status of women, and require
strong institutional capacity
? Support is needed for the implementation of policies that are pro-poor
and that strengthen the land rights of the poor and vulnerable groups
whilst ensuring that people use land resources in a sustainable manner
? Efforts to formalize and secure land rights must be supported by policies
that strengthen these rights, with programmes that enable productive
and sustainable use and management of land, including strengthening
of land use planning and administration systems, in a manner that
balances multiple land uses with environmental considerations and
promotion of food security.
? Increased long term capacity-building strategies that promote
deployment and use of new and appropriate technologies for sustainable
land management are necessary to address land degradation. This
comes at considerable cost for many African countries, and this challenge
must be addressed.
? Importance of balancing of demand of land for urban development and
that for agriculture and food production must be considered.
? Land and agrarian reform should be aligned with water allocation reform to
ensure that land access also includes water rights. Water is key to the
optimal productive use of land.
In respect of promoting rural development, key policy options include:
? Investment in infrastructure like telecommunications, rural roads,
transport networks, water, sanitation, housing, energy supply and social
amenities, including schools and health facilities. This requires integrated
policy planning including disaster management planning and
differentiated implementation strategies and plans.
? Inter-generational poverty must be addressed, through increasing
support for the development and implementation of policies and
responsive strategies that address poverty and rural development (i.e.
anti-poverty strategies), and ensuring that the poor graduate from
depending on social security to creating employment.
? Support is needed for initiatives that promote economic assets and
entrepreneurial skills. These must include land, technology transfer
and building capacity of rural communities so that they can take charge of
their own destiny.
? Support is needed for initiatives that provide employment
opportunities through labour intensive approaches in providing basic and
bulk infrastructure while ensuring the protection of biodiversity and soils.
? In this regard, South Africa is already implementing the Expanded Public
Works Programme (EPWP).
? Partnerships at national, regional and international levels, involving
private sector, governments and communities, are key to land reform and
rural development.
? Local government must play a key role in rural development, and
support is needed to enable this sphere of government to operate
effectively on these.
? Support is needed for efforts to promote appropriate education,
training and skills development programmes, that match local
opportunities, and thus contribute to promotion of employment creation.
? Infrastructure, including road networks, is key to linking rural
production sectors to national and cross border markets and exports and
improving access to economic activity. In order for rural producers to
participate effectively in competitive markets, value adding activities must
be encouraged and supported.
? Support for efforts to promote sustainable resource management,
including land, water and biodiversity is critical as a mechanism that
safeguards rural communities. There is therefore a need to
o promote policies and land administration systems that facilitate
access to land by communities and provision of support to
marginalized groups particularly women
o ensure that traditional leaders as custodian of land play a role
in land and agrarian reform and implementation of the rural
development agenda at all levels.