USAID Land Tenure and Property Rights Division Chief Dr. Gregory Myers’s Remarks from Partners’ Support to the Voluntary Guidelines & Land Governance: Exploiting Synergies & Measuring Impact. Remarks posted as written.
Madam Chair (Rachael Turner), thank you for the opportunity to speak today. On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank the U.K. Department for International Development for their excellent leadership as the inaugural Chair of the Global Donor Working Group on Land. We look forward to working with the incoming Chair of the Working Group—the Government of Germany.
I am here to introduce a new initiative: a comprehensive database and map of land governance programs that are funded by members of the Global Donor Working Group on Land. As we have heard, The Global Donor Working Group was officially launched last year to promote greater coordination on land and resource governance.
One of the primary goals of this group is to support implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. From 2011 to 2012, I had the honor to Chair the negotiations of these Guidelines. Some of you in this room were part of those negotiations and know the efforts required to produce an agreement that was endorsed unanimously by 96 member countries, civil society and the private sector.
While the development and endorsement of the Voluntary Guidelines was an important achievement, their ultimate value will be determined by their implementation and measured in improved development outcomes for women, men and children around the globe. Delivering on this ambitious agenda in countries across the developing world will require coordinated action by donors and development agencies, civil society organizations, governments and the private sector.
In order for the Global Donor Working Group to identify opportunities for synergy and achieve greater coordination, we had to first develop a clear understanding of who is doing “what – where” in the land sector. To that end, the United States worked with the Global Donor Platform and members of the Global Donor Working Group on Land to lead a data collection and visualization initiative on the land and resource governance programs from 16 bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors and development agencies, including the development agencies from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the European Commission, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, as well as the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Bank.
The result of these efforts – negotiated through the Global Donor Working Group on Land – is a database of approximately 231 active programs in 103 countries with a total value of approximately $2.9 billion. The database contains information on the location, duration, funding, and scope of each program, as well as information on what specific aspects of the Voluntary Guidelines are addressed by each program’s activities. The database also allows donors to include links to supplemental resources, such as reports or program websites, and points of contact for each program.
An interactive map of the information in the database clearly displays where different donors and development agencies are working and what they are working on with respect to land and resource governance. This information can help us and other stakeholders better coordinate these programs and leverage our collective resources for maximum impact. As we have heard throughout this session, better communication and coordination among development partners can help us avoid unnecessary duplication, share lessons learned, leverage limited resources and most importantly amplify the impact of our development efforts.
While this initiative is an important step in the right direction, it is only one step. Our next endeavor could be to consider how we link this data to other sources of information: such as demand for land tenure reform, and/or capacity to address land tenure challenges, or with data sets illustrating the locations of large-scale land transactions or overlapping land use rights. Several data sets like this already exist, however, these data systems often use different standards and are incompatible with each other. One vital task we should consider is how to develop common data standards and shared platforms for all types of land and resources rights data and tools. If we do this, we may more fully realize the benefits of the Voluntary Guidelines, resulting in more robust economic growth, better food security and nutrition, and reduced conflict.