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Imagine working every day on land you could never own; getting up before the sun rises to take part in repetitive, back-breaking work until the sunsets. Yet, this is the situation for millions of laborers and farmers around the world, who will never own the land they work on. 

Land tenure is about the relationship between people and the land, and how local laws and customs define that relationship. ​Land tenure for all – men, women, indigenous peoples – is not just a question of human rights, but an issue that impacts biodiversity, food security, and migration.  ​

Those who own or control the land they work on are more likely to invest in sustainable land management practices such as tree planting and soil conservation. ​

When tenure leads to increases in investment, higher agricultural productivity, and improved food security, it disincentivizes economic migration, benefitting society. In short, those with ownership of land are more likely to stay and care for it, which results in a range of economic, social, and ecosystem benefits.​ There are 608 million family farms around the world, occupying between 70 and 80 percent of the world's farmland and producing around 80 percent of the world's food in value terms. Many of these farms operate in conditions where there are unequal land rights. ​​

Although many of the 608 million family farms are run by men and women, the laws or customs in more than half of the world’s countries hinder women’s ownership and access to land.  In many countries, women produce 60 to 80 percent of food, yet they lack equal inheritance and land tenure rights, thus undermining the economic, social, and ecosystem benefits mentioned above. ​UNCCD recognizes the importance of promoting equal land tenure rights and access to land for all. We raise awareness of the importance of land tenure, particularly among vulnerable populations, such as women and indigenous peoples, and aim to improve the available knowledge of land tenure through better national reporting. ​

We also work with governments around the world to ensure equal land tenure rights. UNCCD encourages Parties to follow the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure and take measures to combat desertification, land degradation, and mitigate the effects of drought to achieve land degradation neutrality.​

Related news

608

million family farms produce approximately 80% of food​ ​

60 to 80%

of food is produced by women who do not have equal land tenure rights​

Land Tenure Fact Image - Farmer
Publications

The UNCCD-SPI technical report “Creating an enabling environment for Land Degradation Neutrality and its potential contribution to enhancing well-being, livelihoods and the environment” provides science-based evidence on the potential contribution of LDN to enhancing…

This working paper explores how land tenure systems in different ecosystems and bio-cultural regions around the world are linked to land degradation or sustainable land management. It is against this backdrop that five major issues surrounding land tenure, and rights…