The livelihoods of large parts of the world’s population depend directly on access to land. If access is denied, the results are often hunger and underdevelopment. According to UN World Food Programme estimates, half of the 815 million people suffering from hunger in 2017 were members of smallholder families. Many landowners and land users possess only informal or traditional land rights, which are often not sufficiently recognised.
Alongside its economic value, land is accorded high traditional, religious and social value in almost all cultures. However, large-scale investments are placing growing pressure on land as a resource. In the absence of protective measures and transparency, as well as inadequate conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms, such investments often lead to conflict, forced expropriation and displacement. Thus, the pressure on land continues to intensify as it becomes increasingly scarce.
Many countries have committed themselves to good land governance and have signed up to the United Nations’ Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. Yet, they still face considerable challenges in upholding these commitments. The rural population, especially women and socially marginalised groups, often lack reliable access to land.
Access to land has improved for specific population groups, particularly women and marginalised groups in selected partner countries.