Land rights: a prerequisite for Land Degradation Neutrality


“Securing equitable land rights and tenure are a precondition for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN)”, said the Global Mechanism’s Sven Walter at a side event at COP12 on “Land Rights: crucial to reverse to prevent land degradation”.

Co-organised by the International Land Coalition the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Union for Nature Conservation and the Global Mechanism, the side event showcased the importance of people-centered land governance to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality, as called for in the Sustainable Development Goals.


Michael Taylor, Director of the International Land Coalition, shared the results of a recent study conducted by the Rights and Resources Initiative, which revealed that 65% of the Earth’s land surface is claimed by Indigenous People and local communities through customary usage and management. “However, only 18% of this land is actually recognised by governments as belonging to local communities [...]. This is a concern because it is land on which up to 1.5 billion people live and use, but over which they have no legal control”, said Mr Taylor.

Noting the challenges to ensure adequate access to land, the side event highlighted existing good practices, which are strengthening the rights of local communities and Indigenous People:

  • The International Union for Nature Conservation presented the traditional Hima system, which is recognized by the Government of Jordan as a traditional land use system promoting sound community-based rangeland systems and the restoration of degraded ecosystems;
  • The International Land Coalition and the International Livestock Research Institute took stock of the Rangeland Initiative they are implementing and presented case studies on securing tenure in rangelands;
  • Réseau Billital Maroobe, a federation of pastoralist organizations in West Africa, shared lessons-learnt from a capitalisation exercise, which is supported by the Global Mechanism, on of their best practices around negotiated land management arrangements and conflict prevention in the Sahel.
  • The International Fund for Agricultural Development shared its experience of how to secure farmers’ access to land in order to trigger investments for increased agricultural production.

The main conclusions of the side event were presented by Michael Taylor on 21 October during the COP12 High Level Dialogue with Civil Society Organizations on Land Rights:

  1. Governments need to legally recognize customary land rights of Indigenous People and local communities, including collective land rights;
  2. A bottom-up and people-centered process is required, which need to build on the existing knowledge, capacities and customary management systems of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
  3. The contribution of organizations directly representing land-users, including farmers, Indigenous Peoples, women and rural youth needs to be recognized.
  4. We need to learn from, adapt and sale-up the good examples related to people centered land governance.

The UNCCD Secretariat and the Global Mechanism, as member of the International Land Coalition, will continue collaborating with the more than 200 International Land Coalition member organizations and its Secretariat to ensure that UNCCD implementation, including Land Degradation Neutrality target-setting and implementation fully take into account the interests and needs of Indigenous People and local communities.


Related links:

Réseau Billital Maroobé

International Livestock Research Institute