Xavier Science Foundation, Inc (XSF) launched the Institute of Land Governance (ILG) on March 27 with the blessing of its new office at Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.
The increasing competition for land and the weak governance system drive ILG to engage stakeholders in sustainable resource management. It aims to be a resource center undertaking research, offering degree courses, and implementing field projects.
Department of Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan affirmed the importance of ILG for research and advocacy, and its timely organization amid present global and local land issues. He was joined in through Skype by Fr. Francis Lucas, President of Catholic Media Network and Chair Emeritus of the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC), Edgardo Valenzuela formerly of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and now with the Ateneo School of Government, and Ms. Maricel Almojuela-Tolentino of ANGOC.
XU was represented by its President Fr Roberto C Yap, Vice Presidents, faculty and staff. Archbishop Antonio J Ledesma DD, a known advocate of agrarian reform, led the blessing of the office.
The land rush towards Asia by rich nations wishing to secure their food needs should be regulated as the trend threatens to reverse agrarian reform gains and leave communities and resources in the host countries vulnerable to exploitation, said a land reform advocate.
In a paper, Antonio B. Quizon, chairperson of the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Angoc), said governments must develop clear policies on the new wave of land deals from rich countries as these have implications not only on their people’s needs and rights but also food security and the environment.
“It is imperative for citizens to exact transparency and accountability from their government, ensuring the state regulation of foreign investments. The effect should be maximum benefits for the citizens – people’s needs and rights prioritized and protected,” he said.
“Governments must develop clear policies on foreign land investment that engage the overriding interests of the country’ – from food security to environmental sustainability of land and natural resources,” he said in the paper published in Lok Niti, Angoc’s journal. The paper was based on a regional workshop held last year in Bangkok on public- private partnerships for land investments.
Quizon said the trend threatens gains in land reform because the new land deals will increase the concentration of land ownership and access in favor of the foreign investors. “Greater land competition also increases land values, thereby leaving the rural poor outside of land markets,” he said.
He said the new wave of land acquisitions, which had been labeled the “new colonialism” and the “international land grab”, has been driven by rising world food prices that started in the 1990s and peaked in 2006-2008. To secure their food needs these wealthy nations scour for farmlands overseas for the large-scale production of food, livestock and other products which will feed their citizens.
Another driver for the land rush is the growth of the biofuel industry which has shifted land use from food to biofuel crops, Quizon said.
In Asia, the land rush has been led by rich countries from the Middle East and East Asia, he said. He cited another study which said that as of end-2008, China, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Saudi Arabia controlled over 7.6 million cultivable hectares overseas.
Quizon said host or target governments welcome the investments into the agriculture sector unmindful the trend could compromise long-term food security.
He blamed the “hunger of global capital” for the land rush as it “commodified” everything – land and water, plants and genes, and even “clean air” in the form of “carbon emission quotas”. “This commodification of land fuels the rush for the world’s farmlands,” he said. Read the rest of this entry
In October, a set of guidelines that will address weaknesses in the enforcement of land reform laws is set to be approved at a UN-backed food security forum. It is hoped the global adoption and enforcement of the guidelines will eventually lead to food security.
In a paper on the proposed guidelines, the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC) pointed out that “landlessness or the lack of secure and equitable access to and control over land, fisheries and forests by local communities has long been argued by civil society groups as one of the major causes of perennial hunger in rural areas.” Read the rest of this entry
On 16-17 September, twelve participants from various Asian CSOs as well as the Rome-based International Land Coalition (ILC) gathered in a regional workshop in Bangkok to exchange ideas on the draft Land Reform Monitoring Framework for CSOs being developed by ANGOC.
The said framework seeks to be CSO-led, relevant, doable, strategic and sustainable. During the workshop, participants shared their experiences in pilot testing the proposed indicators, and discussed indicators for monitoring based on relevance, feasibility and data availability and quality.
The group agreed on focusing efforts towards developing indicators at the national level, since these will more adequately reflect a country’s particular situation but at the same time should include common regional indicators for monitoring.
The framework is part of a broader monitoring initiative to enhance CSOs’ existing platforms and campaigns at various levels and strengthen CSOs capacity to monitor land reform implementation, especially at analyzing budgets, policies, land tenure and access to land.
The workshop is the last of a series of activities towards developing and finalizing the framework for CSOs. An electronic consultation, roundtable discussion, pilot studies, and an experts’ meeting have been conducted as inputs to the framework.
ANGOC’s CSO land reform monitoring project is also linked to the International Land Coalition (ILC)’s land reform initiative (LRI), which aims to ensure evidence is gathered on land access and tenure of the poor and vulnerable groups, and to make sure that this yields impact on policy and supports reforms.
The report of the proceedings is presently being prepared.
For more information on ANGOC’s CSO Land Reform Monitoring Initiative, please read the briefer at http://www.angoc.org/Pages/cso-land-monitoring.html . (Photo courtesy of PAFID)
by Bruce H. Moore
After years of being at the margins of the development debate, land policy
and resource rights are receiving increased attention. Whereas previously
land tenure was seen primarily as a call for social justice, today land tenure
and pro-poor land governance are seen as being also at the nexus of current
economic, political and social challenges, including conflicts over access to
natural resources and progress in implementing peace accords.
For full paper click PearsonPapersVol12_WEB.
Originally published in the Pearson Papers, Volume 12, 2009, Environmental considerations for building peace / Ann Livingstone, editor; Kristine St-Pierre, managing editor. (The Pearson papers ; vol. 12, 2009)
Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-1-896551-77-7