Michael Taylor - Director International Land CoalitionRome, Italy


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Does the inclusion of land rights in the global development agenda bear the potential to promote the secure and fair distribution of land rights? Yes, our author believes – provided that the land-rights community does not rest on its laurels and really addresses the crucial aspects.

When world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, they took a bold step in recognising the reality that ‘sustainable development’ is complex and multifaceted. While many criticised the explosion of targets and indicators compared to the slimmed-down Millennium Development Goals, supporters pointed to a common agenda whose breadth does a better job at encompassing the reality of what it will take to positively transform human well-being and environmental sustainability.

Land rights are emblematic of this shift. While land – and indeed agricultural production – were absent in the MDGs, land rights feature in the SDGs under goals 1, 2 and 5 (see Box below). And rightly so; land rights are absolutely critical for a transformational sustainable development agenda. For local land users, having secure tenure over the land that provides food and shelter – the root and giver of life in many facets – is fundamental to progress being achieved in virtually all SDGs.

So, a great step forward in terms of recognition, but the land-rights community that banded together in the lead-up to the SDGs to promote this shift cannot rest on its laurels.

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