Taking Stock of the Voluntary Guidelines

By Heath Cosgrove, Director, USAID’s E3/Land Office.

Four years ago, the global community came together in historic fashion to agree, for the first time ever, on a common set of standards and practices for strengthening land and resource rights: the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT). Negotiated and endorsed by a broad coalition of government, civil society, and private sector representatives at the UN Committee on World Food Security, the VGGT helped define and organize a global movement for addressing one of today’s most important development issues – land rights.

USAID is proud to be a part of that movement. Now, as both one of the largest bilateral donors working in the land sector and as the Chair of the Global Donor Working Group on Land—a network of 23 bilateral and multilateral donors committed to improving land governance worldwide—we have an opportunity to reflect on our achievements and learnings as we take stock of four years of VGGT implementation.

The Global Donor Working Group on Land—which collectively represents 678 land governance projects in 131 countries—recently released a Policy Brief outlining our joint position on the status of VGGT implementation. We believe that for the VGGT to be implemented effectively, we must understand and learn from how they are applied in different countries and contexts. For a movement as global and decentralized as ours, this is quite a challenge. Nonetheless, the Global Donor Working Group on Land is leveraging its network to help take stock of how the VGGT have been applied over the last four years, and how they can be applied moving forward. We believe the following initiatives can help:

  • Building out and analyzing the global database of land and resource governance programs known as the Land Governance Program Map
  • Developing a framework for stocktaking on VGGT and establishing a baseline
  • Tying VGGT reporting to country-level SDG reporting
  • Establishing and furthering joint monitoring or learning partnerships for responsible investment

These recommendations, along with insights from other stakeholders, will be presented and discussed at this year’s Committee on World Food Security meetings in October. We look forward to continuing the dialogue on making the promise of the VGGT a reality for women and men around the globe.

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