From field to Parliament: From land grabbing to responsible land management

Access to land is a basis for livelihoods in the global south. Population growth, the high demand for bioenergy and the rise of agricultural product prices lead to a growing pressure on land and numerous conflicts between large-scale investors and the rural populations. With the upcoming EU External Investment Plan (EIP) and the accompanying European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), the role of the private sector is increasingly put in the spotlight. But how can the sustainability of private investments in land be ensured and what is needed to balance the interests of investors and the local population?

These questions were in the focus of the latest 'From Field to Parliament' event, a series which fosters the exchange of GIZ practitioners with policy makers on current topics in international development. In cooperation with MEP Maria Heubuch (Greens/EFA) and her team, the GIZ Representation Brussels invited policy makers in the European Parliament - Members of the Parliament, accredited parliamentary assistants and EP staff - for a lively discussion on sustainable land management. Christian Graefen, one of GIZ`s experts on land reform with more than 20 years of experience and current manager of the Sector Project Land Policy and Land Management, reported from his work in various Asian and African countries. Through the example of land management in Laos, he vividly illustrated challenges, opportunities and best practices in the context of sustainable land investments. He pointed out that the key for land management that also meets the needs of rural population is transparency, inclusion of all stakeholders, dialogue between investors, residents and practitioners. Techniques like drones and satellite images of land tenure areas can help to settle conflicts by creating facts. “Aerial photography can be interpreted perfectly by everyone, even small children and illiterate persons”, Graefen explained.

The event was very well visited and a lively and fruitful debate evolved after the presentation. It also marked the 5th anniversary of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure, a UN reference document seeking to improve the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests with the overarching goal of achieving food security for all.