Experts from Asia address access to land in FAO consultation

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Bangkok, 18 Jan 2012 -- A three-day, Asia-wide consultation of experts organized by FAO opened today in Bangkok: the consultation focuses on the potential impacts of agricultural investment on access to land and on the security of tenure.

Inequitable access to, and insecure tenure of land are root causes of hunger, malnutrition, poverty and environmental degradation. These are acute governance issues in the Asia and Pacific region which is home to an estimated 685 million of the approximately 1.2 billion people in the world suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

“Access to, and tenure of land are means of alleviating poverty and hunger, and sustaining livelihoods and traditional ecosystems,’’ said Hiroyuki Konuma, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific today in his opening remarks to the consultation. “Land is one of the main economic, social and cultural assets of poor rural women and men.”

In keeping with its mandate to lead the fight against hunger, FAO has convened 30 experts from government, private sector, academic institutions and civil society from across Asia and the Pacific for the Expert consultation on agricultural investments and access to land. The meeting runs from 18 to 20 January.

The consultation is linked to the initiative on Voluntary Guidelines on Governance of Tenure that are being negotiated by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Once adopted, the Voluntary Guidelines will provide a framework for the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security.

The aim of the Expert Consultation is to draft a Guide to support the practical implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines, in particular by looking at means to improve governance in the context of agricultural investments, including aspects of policy development, administration, and monitoring. The Implementation Guide will outline practical steps to achieve those goals.

Over the past three years new investments in agriculture have taken place around the world heightening demands and pressures on land and placing tensions on land tenure systems. In some cases, these investments may have been made at the expense of the land rights of poor men and women for whom land provides a valuable social safety net.

The Expert Consultation taking place in Bangkok will focus on access to, and tenure of land in the context of agricultural investments. It is the first of three regional meetings through which an Implementation Guide will be developed. Other meetings will be organized in Africa and in Latin America.