Land rights

A woman and a child walk across a field in Bangladesh with some goats in tow.
The SDC is working to ensure that the poorest population groups in rural areas have fair access to land and other natural resources. © IFAD/G.M.B.Akash

Just as in high-income countries, agricultural land in low- and middle-income countries is in increasingly short supply. Infrastructure, urban expansion and investments in large-scale farms are encroaching on land previously used by smallholders. Broad-based regulations are necessary to ensure fair access to land and other natural resources, especially for poorer population groups in rural areas. The SDC is committed to establishing such regulations at the national, regional and global levels.

The SDC's focus

The SDC works to ensure equitable access to land and other natural resources such as water, especially for poorer population groups in rural areas. As well as being vital to sustain life, they also act as important productive resources for smallholder farmers. Land law determines whether and how the right to use and control land, fisheries and forests can be exercised. Guaranteeing the right to use and own land is key to combating poverty and hunger.

With the aim of reducing poverty and hunger in poorer sections of the population, the SDC supports governments in the development, implementation and oversight of fair and transparent land use policies that recognise all existing rights of use, including individual, collective and customary rights.

At the same time, the SDC encourages the participation of all stakeholders in drawing up such principles and supports local communities and farmers' organisations so that they are able to exercise their land use rights. For the SDC, the inclusion of the private sector in such processes is of high priority.

At the global level, the SDC has participated actively in the creation and implementation of a set of targeted regulations that promote a just tenure and land management policy and establish criteria for responsible investment in agriculture.

Guidelines and principles on the responsible governance of tenure

As a member of the Bureau of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Switzerland was instrumental in developing the current UN Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security in 2012. Over the next two years, Switzerland led negotiations on a set of Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, intended to complement the Guidelines. In 2014, it brought the process to a successful conclusion with the adoption of the Principles. Together with other states, private sector organisations, civil society and UN agencies, the SDC is actively involved in implementing these Guidelines and Principles. This lays the foundation for securing land use rights for all and enabling investments into better production methods.

The SDC also supports implementation of the African Union (AU) Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, adopted in 2009, which pledges to ensure equitable access to and the efficient and sustainable use of land. To this end, the SDC works closely with the African Land Policy Centre, which is directly responsible for implementing the AU Framework and Guidelines. The SDC also broadens and strengthens the expertise of the relevant decision-makers and public officials in order to improve the assessment of land-related investment contracts.

Background

Approximately 70% of the more than 800 million chronically undernourished people in low- and middle income countries countries live in rural areas, the majority growing crops or rearing livestock. For them, security of access to land and other natural resources is especially important. Equally important is secure access to land for the rapidly increasing urban population, both for housing and for growing food in small gardens (urban agriculture).

Investments in land can have a major adverse impact on the food security of local communities. The legitimate call for increased investment in agriculture often focuses on the economic dimension, leaving aside social and environmental issues. As a result, such investments often restrict access to land and other natural resources such as water. Moreover, they contribute to reducing biodiversity in agriculture and threaten fragile ecosystems. In many cases, serious human rights violations occur.

Land-related investments are often concluded with no or minimal prior consultation of the affected rural populations. Most large-scale land transactions thus lack transparency and accountability at all levels. At country level, line ministries and parliaments are rarely invited to scrutinise investment projects involving large-scale land acquisitions and leases. When decision- and policymakers are involved, they often lack the capacity to thoroughly examine legal and transactional issues related to investment contracts at national level.

Land-law principles and guidelines such as those supported by the SDC are needed to make information on land deals available and to update it continuously. Dialogue with all stakeholders, including the private sector and government officials, helps create space for the needs and concerns of disadvantaged groups in policymaking processes. In this context, grievance mechanisms enable affected populations to hold governments and/or investors accountable and, where applicable, obtain appropriate compensation.

Switzerland is aware that existential issues such as those relating to land access, use and tenure have to be resolved in consultation with all stakeholders if conflicts are to be prevented.

Documents

Current projects

Object 73 – 84 of 167

Programme d’Appui à la Production Agricole en Haïti (PAPAH), Phase II

01.08.2019 - 31.12.2024

La phase 2 du Programme d’Appui à la Production Agricole en Haïti vise à renforcer le système national de financement et d’assurance agricoles en Haïti, porté par les institutions publiques et privées et régulé par la Banque de la République d’Haïti. La contribution suisse servira de levier pour mieux structurer et orienter des investissements d’environ USD 340 millions au profit des exploitations dans les chaines de valeur agricoles; dans le Sud et la Grand-Anse, en synergie avec les programmes du portefeuille Suisse, le développement de produits financiers spécifiques servira environ 20 000 exploitations agricoles.


Support for cooperative management in the agricultural sector in Cuba (APOCOOP)

01.08.2019 - 31.12.2022

APOCOOP contributes to food security in 17 municipalities by improving the management of agricultural cooperatives, strengthening tools and enhancing the capacities and conditions of cooperative members and other actors. It promotes models of inter-cooperation between agricultural cooperatives, with gender equity, resilience and economic, social and environmental sustainability, and to socialize results and methods in spaces of influence on land policies in Cuba.


Accountability in Health & Agriculture

01.07.2019 - 30.06.2023

While governments have translated regional policies on Food Security and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) into national policies, these are poorly implemented and the public lacks capacities to act effectively upon them. The project will improve the accountability and gender responsiveness of public resource management and complement the ongoing Swiss funded projects in ensuring that policy/advocacy work developed at national, regional and global levels is disseminated and implemented by relevant SADC and governmental institutions.


Soutien au développement des filière arachide, karité et sésame au Tschad (SODEFIKA)

01.07.2019 - 30.06.2023

Le programme vise le développement des filières arachide, karité et sésame en matière de production, transformation et commercialisation en vue d’accroitre le revenu de 658'000 personnes dont 337'920 femmes dans trois provinces au sud du Tchad. La DDC contribue ainsi à la réduction de la vulnérabilité des exploitations familiales et des inégalités entre hommes et femmes, ainsi qu’à la prévention de la migration.


Livelihoods and Food Security Fund - LIFT

01.07.2019 - 30.06.2024

The Livelihoods and Food Security Fund (LIFT) is a multi-donor fund, coordinating and contributing aid to rural development in Myanmar. Within its strategy period 2019-2023 LIFT will benefit 3.7 million additionl people with a strong focus on leaving no one behind, while working on more inclusive government policies and supporting the private sector. As chair for the LIFT Fund Board in the coming 12 months, Switzerland will ensure LIFT’s conflict-sensitivity and benefit from additional access to key decision makers.


Choosing coffee over poppy - a public-private partnership (Myanmar)

01.06.2019 - 31.05.2023

In Southern Shan State infrastructure, access to basic services and income opportunities are scarce. Poverty and malnutrition are omnipresent and out-migration is high. Building on a private-public partnership with Malongo, a French coffee company and Walter Matter SA, a Swiss logistics firm, SDC supports the Green Gold coffee cooperative and its 900 members to become a sustainable and business-oriented organisation.


Mainstreaming Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) into Agricultural Systems in Africa

01.05.2019 - 30.04.2023

Current agricultural and food systems rely greatly on non-renewable external inputs, impact negatively on soils, water, biodiversity, nutrition and health. Switzerland supports the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative that promotes a viable alternative in Africa to ensure sustainable agricultural development, food and nutrition security of smallholder farmers in an environmentally sustainable manner, thereby contributing towards a more sustainable global food system.


One Health Units for Humans, Environment, Animals and Livelihoods (HEAL)

01.03.2019 - 31.10.2024

Transmission of diseases between humans and animals are frequent in pastoralist societies of

Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya and related to environmental conditions. The HEAL project

promotes sustainable rangeland management and access to integrated human/livestock health

services. Thereby, it contributes to improved health, to reduced vulnerability among pastoralist

communities and to prevention of their displacement/migration, which is in the interest of Switzerland.


BLOOOM: Agricultural Technology for the Bottom of the Pyramid

01.02.2019 - 31.12.2023

Blooom, a newly founded social enterprise provides innovative digital solutions to connect smallholder farmers to input suppliers and consumers. Smallholders get access to information, financing, local and international markets via mobile phone technology. In this public private development partnership, Swiss support serves to expand Blooom’s services to smallholder farmers in low income countries in which the risks of entry for private sector companies are generally too high, including countries in Africa.


Programme de Valorisation du Potentiel Agro-Pastoral dans l’Est du Burkina Faso (VALPAPE) Phase 2

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022

La région de l’Est du Burkina Faso, malgré un fort potentiel agropastoral, reste l’une des plus pauvres du pays. Le programme va soutenir des dynamiques de développement local par la valorisation durable des potentialités agropastorales pour la création d’emploi et la génération de revenu, en particulier pour les jeunes et les femmes. En réduisant leur vulnérabilité face à l’insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle, la migration et l’extrémisme violent, le programme promeut la stabilité et soutient les intérêts de la Suisse.



Improving Food Security and Land Governance through investment standards

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2023

Investment in agriculture is needed to feed a growing global population. These investments need to respect the situation of the local population and the environment. Switzerland chaired the drafting process of the Principles on Responsible Agricultural Investments that have been adopted by the Committee on World Food Security. Consequently Switzerland supports the application of the Principles by training development country stakeholders in the negotiation and application of sustainable investment frameworks to increase food security for the poorest populations.

Object 73 – 84 of 167