There are numerous countries with plural land rights systems, where customary and/or communal forms of land tenure coexist with formal legal systems.

The opportunity to acquire and use tenure rights depends not only on the tenure system itself but also on how the system is governed. The governance of tenure is a crucial element in determining if and how people, communities and others are able to acquire the rights (and associated duties) to use and control the land. Many tenure problems arise because of weak governance characterised by corruption or the discrimination of certain marginalised groups, or simply by the insufficient technical and human resources of the land administration authorities.

In light of the increasing acquisitions of arable land for large-scale agricultural investments, one particularly burning aspect of tenure governance is the recognition and protection of existing legitimate tenure rights, as well as participatory land use planning.