Food security policy and governance

Land governance

Land governance concerns the rules, processes and structures through which decisions are made about access to land and its use, the manner in which the decisions are implemented and enforced, and the way that competing interests in land are managed. Land governance is essential in achieving inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and food security. However, pressure on and competition for land increases due to globalisation of land market, speculation, urbanization, climate change and other land uses (tourism, nature conservation). In this topics, references are made to knowledge around rules and practices on access to and use of land which promote equitable and sustainable development and food security.

The Food & Business Knowledge Platform is also actively involved in this theme. Please take a look at the theme page on Land Governance for the latest news, events, and our own publications.

Academic article Article Blog Book Briefing Case study Dissertation Guide/ Handbook Paper Policy report Publication Report Research paper Synthesis report Working paper
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Land resource planning for sustainable land management
Published by FAO,
This working paper provides an overview of the development and status of implementation of land evaluation and land-use planning concepts and tools for land resource and landscape management. »
Exploring future changes in land use and land condition and the impacts on food, water, climate change and biodiversity
Published by PBL ,
This policy report provides scenario projections for the Global Land Outlook, exploring future changes to the use and condition of land and the resulting impacts on food, water, climate change and biodiversity. In all three scenarios, the pressure on land is projected to increase in Sub-Saharan Africa. »
Global land outlook
Published by UNCCD,
This publication addresses the future challenges and opportunities for the management and restoration of land resources in the context of sustainable development. The current pressures on land are huge and expected to continue growing. It is clear that the next few decades will be the most critical in shaping and implementing a new and transformative global land agenda. »
Women’s land rights as a pathway to poverty reduction: A framework and review of available evidence
Published by IFPRI,
This report reviews the literature on women's land rights and poverty reduction. Despite the large body of literature on the relationship between land tenure security, livelihoods, and poverty, most of this literature is based on household-level data and does not consider possible intra-household inequalities in land ownership. »
Agribusinesses, smallholder tenure security, and plot-level investments
Published by UNU-WIDER,
This working paper investigates how a decrease in the share of land held by an agribusiness in a village affects smallholder plot-level tenure security and investments in rural Tanzanian villages. A large number of agribusinesses that acquired agricultural land in many sub-Saharan African countries have reduced or ceased their operations in recent years. »
Integrated agricultural landscape management: Case study on inclusive innovation processes, monitoring and evaluation in Tanzania
Published by Outlook on Agriculture Journal,
This article describes the process, the results, challenges, and lessons emanating from applying integrated agricultural landscape management (IALM) processes in innovation platforms. Integrated landscape management is a process for achieving multiple objectives related to agricultural production, ecosystem conservation, and sustainable natural resource management. »
Improving accountability in agricultural investments: Reflections from legal empowerment initiatives in West Africa
Published by IIED,
This report focuses on the role of legal empowerment and grass root action to change the way investments in natural resources are happening and to protect rights and the environment to ensure more sustainability. A recent surge in agribusiness plantation deals has increased pressures on land in many low- and middle-income countries. »
Sustainable land management in practice in the Kagera Basin: Lessons learned for scaling up at landscape level
Published by FAO,
This book provides insights into sustainable land management in the Kagera Basin, shared by Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. It showcases how land degradation can be successfully challenged and climate change can be coped with through sustainable landscape planning and management. »
For Ethiopia’s farmers, landscape management and tenure lead to more resilience and income
Published by World Bank Group,
This blog discusses the impact of the Sustainable Land Management Program. This is an innovative approach to restoring degraded land, which combines security of tenure for Ethiopia’s farmers with better management of the country’s natural resources. »
Enhancing sustainability of pastoral productive systems
Published by ELLA Network,
This Learning Alliance Highlight reviews the best practices in land tenure policy for pastoralist societies in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Over the course of six topics, participants in the Online Learning Alliance discussed and exchanged ideas on how to sustain pastoralism as a production system. »
Understanding changing land access and use by the rural poor in Ghana, Mozambique, Senegal and Uganda
Published by IIED,
The IIED recently published four similar research reports on land issues, access to land and land use by the rural poor in Ghana, Mozambique, Senegal, and Uganda. In all countries the acquisition of land by new actors, both government and business, puts pressure or rural lands and their communities. Current land governance systems are often not sufficient to deal with this rapid change. »
Can land reform feed South Africa?
Published by Oxpeckers,
This article by Oxpeckers explores the role of land reform in improving the food security situation in South Africa. The author argues that if reform is not well targeted it may threaten food security and benefit only the elites in rural areas. »
Synthesis report – gender & collectively held land
Published by Landesa,
This report by Landesa gives recommendations on interventions to strengthen collective tenure and ensure that both women and men benefit from the improved land tenure security. The report synthesizes findings from six case studies from China, Ghana, India, the Kyrgyz Republic, Namibia, and Peru. This intersection between gender and collective tenure security reforms is largely understudied. »
Monitoring agricultural expansion in Burkina Faso over 14 years: The role of population growth and implications for the environment
Published by Remote Sensing,
This article uses remote sensing with a high spatial resolution (30 m) to monitor agricultural expansion in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso ranges amongst the fastest growing countries in the world with an annual population growth rate of more than three percent. This trend has consequences for food security since agricultural productivity is still on a comparatively low level in Burkina Faso. In order to compensate for the low productivity, the agricultural areas are expanding quickly. »
Access to farmland gets quick and dirty in sub-Saharan Africa
Published by IIED,
This briefing investigates the rapidly changing power dynamics and structures related to land governance in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors argue that understanding the changing dynamics of land access in rural Africa will be crucial if systems of land governance, companies and organisations, and rural development initiatives are to adapt and make a positive impact. »
Aquaculture zoning, site selection and area management under the ecosystem approach to aquaculture
Published by FAO, World Bank,
Land governance and water governance tend to address similar challenge with regard to the equitable distribution of resources. This handbook focuses on water governance and provides practical guidance on aquaculture spatial planning and management. »
Integrated landscape approaches for Africa’s drylands
Published by World Bank,
This book by the World Bank presents emerging findings on the importance of moving beyond single-sector interventions to embrace integrated landscape approaches in Sub-Saharan Africa. This includes landscape management that takes into account the health of the ecosystems that support human livelihoods and contribute to the resilience of rural communities. Integrated landscape management is particularly important for these drylands because people depend on production systems that are frequently disrupted by exogenous shocks such as drought. »
Tree-based production systems for Africa’s drylands
Published by World Bank,
This book, published by the World Bank, identifies some of the most promising investment opportunities at the level of tree-based systems, species (products), and well-defined management practices for accelerating rural economic growth in the drylands. This book is one of a series of thematic books prepared for the study, “Confronting Drought in Africa’s Drylands: Opportunities for Enhancing Resilience.”Trees, with their deep rooting systems, maintain their standing value and offer some production even in drought years. »
Shifts in the landscape: Increased pressure on rural land and livelihoods in Ghana
Published by IIED,
This briefing explores the increased pressure on rural land and livelihoods in Ghana due to competition for land an changes in land governance. In Ghana 70 per cent of the population are smallholder farmers who depend on the land for their basic needs. »
Making sense of research for sustainable land management
Published by CDE/WOCAT, UFZ,
This book, published by CDE/WOCAT and UFZ, provides evidence of how practices of sustainable land management can be adapted to specific local and regional contexts. It is based on the work of more than 600 scientists and synthesizes experiences and practice-relevant results from a seven year German funded international research programme on interactions between land management, climate change, and ecosystems and their services. »
Land administration service delivery and its challenges in Nigeria: A case study of eight states
Published by IFPRI,
This paper by IFPRI assesses the nature of land administration service delivery in Nigeria using data collected from three sets of participants in land administration processes. The particpants include: 76 service providers, 253 beneficiaries, and 172 professionals. Land registration information guidelines seem to be rarely available to the public. »
Governing tenure rights to commons
Published by FAO,
This technical guide by FAO is about the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. The guide aims to support actors to take proactive measures to implement the standards and recommendations of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (Tenure Guidelines) for legally recognizing and protecting tenure rights to commons and community-based governance structures. »
Land debate on open data and land governance
Published by Land Portal,
This report by Land Portal summarizes the main themes on potential impacts and challenges in opening land data for land governance. Across most contexts, government data sources on land are largely inaccessible, from land administration data, such as parcel data and ownership information to land investments, contract data and even policy information. However, with an ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there is an increasing need to pool data resources toward solving global challenges... »
Building Africa’s great green wall: Restoring degraded drylands for stronger and more resilient communities
Published by FAO,
This publication by FAO presents efforts by FAO and partners on mapping the intervention area of the Great Green Wall initiative and restoration opportunities based on data gathered through Collect Earth and in support of presenting FAO's effort at COP22 in Marrakech on 14. November 2016. the great green Wall for the sahara and the sahel initiative is Africa’s flagship initiative to build prosperity and resilience in over 20 countries around the Sahara. It was built to combat the effects of climate change and desertification and address food insecurity and poverty. »
After the consent: Re-imagining participatory land governance in Massingir, Mozambique
Published by Geoforum,
This article argues that participatory land governance and consultation processes need follow-up mechanisms since new actors, claims and strategies emerge after consent has been reached. In the study area Massingir, Mozambique, foreign private and domestic investments in the agribusiness, tourism, and conservation sectors in the district have been on the rise. This resulted in events that scholars and activists have come to describe as land, water, and green grabs. »
Land-use choices follow profitability at the expense of ecological functions in Indonesian smallholder landscapes
Published by Nature Communications,
This article elaborates on the decision-making of Indonesian smallholder farmers and their impact on ecological functions. It finds that land-use choices of Indonesian smallholders predominantly favor farm portfolios with high economic productivity but low ecological value. Smallholder-dominated agricultural mosaic landscapes are highlighted as model production systems that deliver both economic and ecological goods in tropical agricultural landscapes, but trade-offs underlying current land-use dynamics are poorly known. »
Economic and agricultural transformation through large-scale farming
Published by Leiden University,
This PhD dissertation examines the impacts of large-scale farming in Ethiopia on local economic development, household food security, incomes, employment, and the environment. The study concluded that the approach of large-scale mechanized farming contributes little to the economic and agricultural transformation of the nation. Local people generally lose out in respect of land transactions and investments, and they are expropriated from their customary land rights to the benefit of national goals. »
International land deals for agriculture
Published by Land Matrix,
This report provides detailed information on who is buying up farmland in which regions of the world and how this land is being used. It also elaborates on differences in food security impacts of land deals in different countries. Food crops continue to play the major role in land deals. The report explains that food security impact is distinct in two group of countries. »
Improving sustainable commodity supply chains in Amazonia
Published by Global Canopy Programme & CDKN,
This brief by Global Canopy Programme and The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) draws on innovative trade-flow modelling and analysis for three key agricultural supply chains in the Amazon region – soy in Brazil, palm oil in Peru and beef in Colombia - alongside multi-stakeholder interviews and group discussions to discuss trade-offs and barriers for implementing more sustainable productive landscapes in the Amazon region. »
Land sharing vs land sparing to conserve biodiversity: How agricultural markets make the difference
Published by Environmental Modeling & Assessment journal,
This article, published in the Environmental Modeling & Assessment journal, models the supply and demand for agricultural goods and assess and compares how welfare, land use, and biodiversity are affected under intensive and extensive farming systems at market equilibrium instead of at exogenous production levels. »
Land tenure reforms, tenure security and food security in poor agrarian economies: Causal linkages and research gaps
Published by Global Food Security Journal ,
This paper by the Global Food Security Journal reviews the literature to identify the relationship between tenure security and food security.The paper explores the conceptual linkages between land tenure reforms, tenure security and food security and illustrates how these vary across diverse contexts. »
Community innovations in sustainable land management
Published by Routledge,
This book analyses community initiatives in sustainable land management in four contrasting African countries. It is increasingly recognized that land can be managed most sustainable through involving local communities. This book highlights the potential of a new methodology of uncovering and stimulating community initiatives through analyzing the countries Ghana, Morocco, South Africa and Uganda. »
State of the world’s forests 2016
Published by FAO,
This report by FAO explores the challenges and opportunities represented by the complex interrelationship between forests, agriculture and sustainable development. It demonstrates that the sustainable management of both forests and agriculture, and their integration in land-use plans, is essential for achieving the SDGs, ensuring food security and tackling climate change. »
Developing gender‐equitable legal frameworks for land tenure: A legal assessment tool
Published by FAO,
This legal paper states that effective policy and legal advice requires a clear understanding of the gaps and discrepancies in the policies and legislation pertaining to gender and land. It aims to deepen the understanding on women’s access to land and to analyse how adjustments in the legal framework regulating women’s land tenure can promote their economic empowerment and ultimately generate more productive agricultural systems. »
Avoiding bioenergy competition for food crops and land
Published by WRI,
This working paper shows that any dedicated use of land for growing bioenergy inherently comes at the cost of not using that land for growing food or animal feed, or for storing carbon. In the past decade, governments have pushed to increase the use of bioenergy. However, bioenergy that entails the dedicated use of land to grow the energy feed stock will undercut efforts to combat climate change and to achieve a sustainable food future. »
Land policies and their implications for smallholder agriculture in Africa
Published by AGRA,
This report presents a review of national land and agricultural policies and policy formulation and implementation processes in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique and Zambia. The report presents lessons on good and bad practice of agricultural policy formulation and implementation in Africa and recommends strategies. »
Securing customary land rights in Sub-Saharan Africa
Published by University of Gothenburg,
This working paper elaborates on new approaches to land tenure reform with regard to securing customary land rights in Sub-Saharan Africa. The conventional approach for securing property rights to land is by establishing a system of private ownership through individual titling and has often not led to the intended improvements in agricultural investments and productivity. Instead it has had several negative social implications. »
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