Inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa Launches Investment Guiding Principles
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The inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), which met under the theme ‘The next decade of land policy in Africa: ensuring agricultural development and inclusive growth,' aimed to: strengthen advocacy for comprehensive land policy, and build capacity through improved access to knowledge and information; help create a platform for presenting research activities and networking opportunities; and focus the attention of relevant stakeholders on the issues and status of land policy development and implementation in Africa.

UNECA14 November 2014: The inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), which met under the theme ‘The next decade of land policy in Africa: ensuring agricultural development and inclusive growth,’ aimed to: strengthen advocacy for comprehensive land policy, and build capacity through improved access to knowledge and information; help create a platform for presenting research activities and networking opportunities; and focus the attention of relevant stakeholders on the issues and status of land policy development and implementation in Africa.

The conference opened with a call for “a robust deepening of land governance on the continent” and an appeal for promoting policy and regulatory environments that advance large-scale agricultural production and productivity, and addressed, inter alia: development and implementation of land governance frameworks; women’s land rights; securing land rights under different tenure regimes; emerging best practices in developing and implementing land policies; and land administration.

AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Rhoda Tumusiime, emphasized that agriculture is still a key driver of Africa’s economic transformation, and said Africa is the only continent that has “defined its own agenda for land policy.” Tefera Debrew, Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture, said low productivity and food security in the midst of substantial land resources “is not acceptable,” and called on AU Member States to “diligently implement the AU-led continental frameworks and guiding principles.”

Josephine Ngure, African Development Bank (AfDB) Resident Representative to Ethiopia reiterated that 

land in Africa is not just an economic and environmental asset but also “a social, cultural, spiritual resource and a social identity.” She said land problems must be addressed in order for sustainable development in Africa is to be realized. Ambassador Gary Quince, EU, noting EU support for land tenure programmes in ten countries, urged addressing emerging challenges, such as increased conflict and the related displacement of thousands of people from their land and livelihoods.

The ‘AU Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa,’ endorsed by Heads of State in April 2014, was launched during the conference. The principles aim to support efforts to draft and adopt policies that recognize the strategic importance of land and encourage its efficient use in “Africa’s efforts for structural transformation, industrialization and inclusive development.”

The principles are based on human rights of communities, responsible governance of land, social acceptance by affected communities, gender equality and women’s access to land ownership, cost-benefits studies and mutual accountability. They are also aligned to national strategies for sustainable agriculture. Conference participants agreed that the principles should serve as “the blueprint for improving land governance on the continent.” Land Policy Initiative (LPI) Chief Joan Kagwanja expressed hope that within the next three years land grabs could be halted, and said a series of upcoming training sessions would help countries manage large-scale, land-based negotiations in a more meaningful way.

During a journalist’s workshop on land policy on 10 November, journalists were told that “the media can influence policy makers to adopt inclusive policies and frameworks that advance the sustainable use of lands in Africa,” and can play a key role by, inter alia, exposing corrupt practices, monitoring land reforms, acquisitions and deals, and demanding government accountability.

The conference, which convened from 11-14 November, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, brought together over 300 stakeholders and was organized by the LPI, a joint initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the AfDB. [ECA Press Release 1] [ECA Press Release 2] [ECA Press Release 3] [ECA Press Release 4] [Consolidated Draft: Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa] [UN HABITAT Press Release]


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