Last week, the World Bank’s 14th Annual Conference on Land and Poverty – which was sponsored by USAID along with several other organizations – brought together more than 800 participants from 90 countries, representing government, private sector, civil society, academia, and development partners. The large attendance from a diverse set of participants reinforces the increasing recognition that good land and resource governance is central to a variety of development objectives.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Moving towards transparent land governance: Evidence-based next steps”. Throughout the week, conference participants discussed tools and methods for improving transparency in land transactions, including: initiatives for open contracting and open data, developing a harmonized set of land governance indications, and implementing international agreements such as the Voluntary Guidelines (VGs) for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. As we noted in an earlier commentary, Dr. Gregory Myers, USAID Division Chief, Land Tenure and Property Rights, chaired the opening session of the conference—Global Support to Voluntary Guidelines (VGs) Implementation—which discussed the rising demand for and support to implementation of the VGs. Throughout the conference, numerous endorsements and statements of support were made for the VGs as an essential tool for improving land and resource governance, highlighted by a statement from the World Bank and comments during the closing plenary by USAID Assistant Administrator, Eric Postel and Director General for Policy and Global Issues at the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), Michael Anderson.
In total, the conference featured more than 200 sessions over three days, in which presenters shared their research and project results around:
- Securing land rights and improving land use at the grassroots;
- Adjusting laws and institutions to address urban expansion and governance;
- Innovative approaches towards spatially enabling land administration and management;
- Supporting a continuum of rights in a decentralized environment;
- Mobilizing the private sector to improve land governance; and
- Sharing benefits from exploitation of land- based resources.
Throughout the conference, participants used the Twitter hashtag #landrights to share information and discuss news and events. The USAID Land Tenure and Property Rights Division will continue to use this hashtag to discuss issues relating to land and resource governance in the future, we encourage interested parties to do the same and join the conversation.