Land and Global Development Agenda

Through USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and the Feed the Future Initiative, the United States Government provides technical support, training and thought leadership on strengthening land tenure and property rights to local and national governments, civil society organizations and the private sector. Over the past several years, the U.S. has leveraged its financial resources and technical expertise to promote land and resource governance priorities in key international fora.

Photo Credit: FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto

Timeline of Key Land Agreements

The U.S. Government is a global leader in the land and resource governance sector and is committed to working with the international community to develop and implement guidelines and principles that strengthen land and resource governance systems as a strategy for improving food security, economic growth, and sustainable development. Through international agreements, global coordination, and bilateral development assistance, the United States supports programs and policies that create more transparent, accountable, accessible, predictable and stable access to land and other resources, enabling greater responsible private sector investment and fostering broad-based economic growth.

Agreements in 2012

The U.S. chaired the negotiations on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT), which the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) unanimously adopted in May. Under U.S. leadership in 2012, the G7 (G8 at the time) initiated support for the VGGT and launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which commits members to policy reforms intended to strengthen land governance and accelerate responsible agricultural investment.

Agreements in 2013

Building on progress achieved in 2012, the 2013 G7, under U.K. leadership, announced bold steps to improve transparency in land transactions, including a series of Land Partnerships. As part of this effort, the United States has partnered with the Government of Burkina Faso to strengthen land governance and improve transparency in land transactions.

The U.S. also played a key role in the creation of the Global Donor Working Group on Land, launched in July. USAID led one of the group’s first initiatives, developing a comprehensive database of member organizations’ land governance programs.

Agreements in 2014

The U.S. Government actively participated in the CFS’s development of the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI), which were adopted in October. The RAI provides a framework for promoting responsible land-based investment, including respecting and protecting land tenure in the context of agricultural investments and national food security strategies.

Agreements in 2015

Under the leadership of Grow Africa and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, and working with a range of other bilateral and multilateral development partners, USAID played a key role in developing the Analytical Framework for Responsible Land-Based Agricultural Investments through a collaborative multi-stakeholder process in August. The Analytical Framework was designed to help investors understand complex land tenure issues and establish practical processes that will align their policies and actions with global best practices and relevant international guidelines.

The U.S. Government also played a leading role in shaping the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted in September 2015. The SDGs are comprised of 17 goals and 169 targets covering a range of critical development issues. The targets for the goals intended to end poverty, hunger and ensure gender equality all contain a target prioritizing land and natural resource rights as essential to achieving each goal.

Key Land Agreements

African Union Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa

Together with UN’s Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union (AU) created the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa (F&G) to help strengthen land rights, improve agricultural productivity and secure livelihoods across the continent. The F&G, which were approved and adopted in 2009, recognize the central…Read More

Analytical Framework for Land-Based Investments in African Agriculture

Created by the Leadership Council of the New Alliance and Grow Africa, the Analytical Framework for Land-Based Investments in African Agriculture is a tool to help investors identify, understand and address risks related to land-based investments so that these can be managed more responsibly. The Operational Guidelines for Responsible Land-Based Investment, which was developed by USAID,…Read More

Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa

The Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa were drafted by the Land Policy Initiative (LPI) and endorsed by the tripartite consortium of the African Union, the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2014 to improve land governance to secure land rights and livelihoods, increase…Read More

Kimberley Process

The Kimberley Process, signed by 37 countries at its launch in 2002, is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds. It aims to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, while helping to protect legitimate trade in rough diamonds. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) outlines the rules that govern the trade in…Read More

U.S. Government Initiatives

Power Africa

Launched in 2013, Power Africa’s goal, to add more than 30,000 megawatts (MW) of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity and 60 million new home and business connections depends on having secure rights to use the land required for energy infrastructure projects. Power Africa will build on Africa’s enormous power potential, including new discoveries of…Read More

Let Girls Learn

Launched in 2015, Let Girls Learn is a collaborative, whole of government approach to addressing the range of challenges preventing adolescent girls from attaining a quality education. Let Girls Learn implements part of the Girls Count Act, signed into law the same year, which supports girls to reach their full potential through, in part, promoting…Read More

Feed the Future

Feed the Future, which was launched in 2010, renews the U.S. Government’s commitment to invest in sustainably reducing hunger and poverty, and places responsible land-based investment at the core of its programs—including clarifying land rights and maximizing the positive impact of agricultural investments on women, smallholder farmers, and families’ nutritional status. The U.S. Government’s pledge…Read More

International Coordinating Bodies

African Union (AU)

The African Union (AU) is an intergovernmental organization whose membership includes the 54 states of the African continent. The AU grew out of the Organization of African Unity and was established in 2001. With a broad agenda, the AU addresses issues related to food security, agriculture, peace and security and political issues. It engages on…Read More

Committee on World Food Security (CFS)

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) was the negotiating platform for both the VGGT and the RAI. It is also the negotiating platform for the Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crisis (2015). In addition, the CFS develop policy recommendations on a broad array of issues related to food security…Read More

Global Donor Working Group on Land

From 2015 to 2016, USAID has chaired the Global Donor Working Group on Land, which is comprised of donors and development agencies committed to improving coordination around development programs that focus on land governance. The group, established to coordinate activities among donors and development agencies, strives to improve access to secure land tenure and property…Read More

New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was created in 2012. It seeks to lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022 through partnerships between G7 members, African nations, and the private sector. The New Alliance’s goal is to increase food production, accelerate responsible investment in African agriculture and commit to good governance…Read More