UN Committee on World Food Security Approves Landmark Global Guidelines on Land Governance to Address Hunger and Sustainable Development

ROME – Today the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), headquartered in Rome and sponsored by the three Rome-based United Nations organizations – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – formally endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.

The U.S. Government welcomes and supports the Voluntary Guidelines, which represent a broader endorsement of an issue that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) have been working on for many years.  Around the world, the United States is actively supporting improvements in land governance that strengthen the land and resource rights of local people and communities.

The Voluntary Guidelines provide a much-needed set of principles and practices that can assist countries in establishing laws and policies that better govern land, fisheries and forests tenure rights, ultimately supporting food security and sustainable development.

Secure tenure rights create better environments for investments in agriculture, reduce land-related conflicts, promote improved natural resource management and address challenges related to global climate change.  Nations that consult the Voluntary Guidelines when drafting their own property rights laws and regulations will achieve many of these benefits.

Women, in particular, face major obstacles in accessing and obtaining rights to land.  In many instances, a woman’s right to land comes through marriage and can be lost if her spouse dies. Where implemented, the Voluntary Guidelines will bring clarity of tenure rights for all people and will especially impact the lives of women.

The Voluntary Guidelines are the result of an unprecedented negotiation process, chaired by the United States that featured broad consultation and participation by 96 national governments, more that 25 civil society organizations, the private sector, nonprofits, and farmers’ associations over the course of almost three years.  With the approval of the Voluntary Guidelines, countries now have a tool to assist with tenure reforms; even the process of developing the Guidelines itself has led many government officials to gain a greater understanding of tenure problems and potential solutions.

The approval of these Guidelines also marks a milestone for the CFS, representing the first major policy agreement to come from this leading international forum for addressing global food security and nutrition policy issues.

“We are excited that the Voluntary Guidelines, which everyone at CFS worked on with dedication and conviction, have met with approval,” said the Chargé d’Affaires for the U.S. Mission to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome, Karen Johnson. “We are confident that, if consulted, these Guidelines will greatly advance land rights, especially among small-holder farmers, allowing them to improve their food availability and economic status.”

Dr. Gregory Myers, USAID and Chair of the Guidelines negotiation process notes that, “the next important step is to help countries implement appropriate provisions of the Guidelines.  Multilateral and bilateral organizations are currently considering ways in which this assistance might be provided.”

The U.S. Mission to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome was actively involved in these important negotiations.  Should you want more information, the following officers are available for media interviews:

Franklin Moore, Senior Development Counselor, USAID (and Vice-Chair of the CFS);

Elizabeth Kvitashvili, Humanitarian Affairs Attaché, USAID (and Vice-Chair of the negotiation process)