“With a hopeful and positive spirit, I declare the Africa Land Forum 2021 open,” said His Excellency Koffi Tsolenyanu of Togo in his inaugural address
Today, ILC Africa and co-organizers kicked off Africa Land Forum, a virtual convening of land leaders and actors to shape the principles, policies, and partnerships needed to support people-centred land governance.
Land-related meetings are usually technical leaving the younger ones longing for more, but today, something was different.
Take a look at the below headlines of some of the most popular topics — you’ll find that for a forum on land, the focus on the environment, cultural heritage, social justice, economic recovery, and equity mark a significant shift that gives us hope in our collective desire for “The Africa We Want”:
1. The International Land Coalition’s (ILC) convening force can build partnerships. All opening speakers highlighted the importance of ILC’s convening force, especially in relation to advocacy for systemic and tenure equality. This year’s African Union’s theme on cultural heritage galvanized discussions around how to integrate culture into the tenure system? Liberia has lessons on how they secured 1 million hectares of customary land.
2. Africa’s conflicts are linked to land and the struggle for land by communities must be addressed. “If Liberia were to have another civil war, it would have been on land,” Ellen Pratt said without mincing words. Land in Sub-Saharan Africa has been subject to conflict, conquest, expropriation and exploitation thus resulting in the many discrepancies that exist today. Lessons were presented from Ivory Coast.
Liberia has lessons on how they secured 1 million hectares of customary land
3. Africa should not only discuss “what” to do, but also “how” to do it. “How do you wish to co-exist in the production system?” asked Mike Taylor, ILC Director, in his remarks. We see dynamism in Africa; we see change. But it’s time to plan to go things together on land governance. Greater clarity is needed on this in the future.
4. Monitoring land progress within the SDGs is a concern. While the world acknowledges the challenges to land governance, monitoring the implementation of SDGs remains a challenge. Land rights remain a pathway for mitigating climate change and we anticipate that our discussions will inform the COP 26 discussions to also integrate these issues.
5. Solutions, solutions, solutions. By Day 3, there is need to co-produce solutions on public awareness, institutional capacity building, customary land governance use, land certificates processing, inventory of government land, legal and regulatory frameworks.
While the world acknowledges the challenges to land governance, monitoring the implementation of SDGs remains a challenge
A very special feature on Day 1 was the GIZ network mobilized in a hotel conference room in Ethiopia to participate in the forum. Gathered for the Breakout Session 3, they suggested using a bottom-up approach to advance land governance in rural Africa. This involves: (1) training of and awareness raising for actors at the village level to improve land governance, (2) creation of the archivist job, using affordable digital and physical filling adapted to the rural world, (3) creation of the surveyor job using a portable GPS for the demarcation of land parcels, (4) mapping on posters that would produce clarity on land rights, (5) use of traditional justice to resolve land conflict, and much more.