Responsible land governance in Mindanao

Project detail

Project/programme title: Responsible land governance in Mindanao
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Philippines
Lead executing agency: Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Overall term: 2018 to 2021



Although there are many different laws and regulations governing land management in the Philippines, the responsibilities of different authorities overlap and implementation of legislation is not sufficiently coherent. Poor land management by the authorities and the lack of awareness on the part of the country’s citizens – in particular smallholders and indigenous communities – regarding their own rights allow public land and natural resources to be appropriated by private parties, for example through mining and large-scale agro-industrial projects.

The current land policy hinders both the sustainable use of public land as well as the conservation of essential resources, leading to deforestation and the loss of biodiversity. The public does not have any access to reliable data on land use and land rights.

Land conflicts and overlapping claims among different user groups cannot be resolved and sometimes spark armed conflict during which human rights are infringed upon. In a number of regions in Mindanao, the manner in which land is administered lacks sustainability and conflict sensitivity.


The project adopts conflict-sensitive principles in order to improve the management of public land and thus creates the basis for long-term sustainable land use.



Improved land management helps to foster dialogue and understanding between parties involved in conflicts and can prevent actors from becoming radicalised further. In conflict-prone regions, the project strengthens good governance, which addresses the problem of unequal access to land and, through greater transparency and inclusion, aims to mitigate the root causes of conflict.

Advisory and support services will be provided to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Philippines, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the Housing And Land Use Regulatory Board as well as selected local authorities in the following three fields of activity:

  • Improving institutional frameworks at national level: The aim of the project is for the mandated national authorities to develop improved mechanisms for managing public land. Providing advisory services to DENR at national and regional level facilitates the gradual introduction nationwide of an integrated territorial development approach that is sensitive to climate change and conflict and also considers gender aspects. Disagreements between the organisations involved are analysed and the different approaches they adopt are consolidated. Studies and the examination of existing analyses on the effect of land right instruments provide important insights in this regard.
  • Developing the capacity of local authorities in the area of land management: The project strengthens the capacity of selected local authorities in Mindanao to manage public land responsibly. The authorities are given support in enshrining zoning in local legislation and in monitoring compliance with zoning requirements. In order for local authorities to be able to fulfil this duty, the entrusted teams need to be trained, for example in monitoring and conflict management. The project supports confidence-building measures by creating shared platforms for exchange, such as multi-stakeholder forums or workshops.
  • Increasing the transparency of government activities and enhancing public awareness of land policy: The aim of this field of activity is to strengthen cooperation between national and local authorities in sharing information and data on land use and land rights. The dissemination of data and information, for example on the different lease instruments, land use or the location and size of indigenous territories, ensures greater transparency. Moreover, cooperation between the executing agency and other organisations entrusted with the implementation of responsible land policy is improved.
    Awareness-raining initiatives are designed to reach not only the target groups but also the wider public. Examples of activities include multi-stakeholder dialogues with the involvement of civil society and the private sector both regionally and nationally, and the use of social media to raise awareness.