Rome—Considerable gains have been made in land-tenure governance in the past five years, but more must be done to improve the lives of billions of people—that was the message at a high-level event cohosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Union (EU) to mark the fifth anniversary of guidelines to recognize and secure tenure rights.

The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure promote secure tenure rights for land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development and enhancing the environment.

“The guidelines have improved the lives of millions of people by recognizing, protecting and enhancing their legitimate tenure rights,” said FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva. “There are still many challenges…. First, private-sector engagement should be fostered in many countries. Second, more actions should be undertaken at local and grassroots levels  and, third, equal gender participation must be further strengthened,” he added.

“The EU is committed to support a responsible approach to governance of tenure and to protect the interest and needs of land users. This is a win-win for all, as good land governance helps responsible resource management, creates business opportunities and contributes to sustainable development,” said Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.

In the five years since the Guidelines were endorsed, they have inspired policy and legal reforms in many countries, from Gabon to Guatemala, and have started to make a difference to people’s lives.

In Senegal the Guidelines have helped shape the National Land Policy that recognizes different forms of legitimate rights over land. Sierra Leone’s National Land Policy is largely based on the Guidelines. Kenya has enacted the Community Land Act that promotes standards laid out in the guidelines to bring about land reforms in communal areas.

Colombia is using the Guidelines to address post-conflict land-related issues and promote rural transformation through improved governance of tenure. FAO

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