The 17th Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty went under the overall theme “Scaling up Responsible Land Governance”, and took place from March 14th to 18th at the World Bank main complex in Washington D.C/USA. The conference paid special attention to “working at scale, mainstreaming innovations, and sustaining investments in land governance”. Furthermore, the participants had the opportunity to discuss “what can be done to guarantee inclusiveness, sustainability and reliability, build capacity and ensure that better land information and more tenure security contribute to wider societal objectives and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals”.
More than 1,400 representatives from governments, civil society, academia, the development community and the private sector registered for the conference to exchange information and conduct evidence-based dialogue on various aspects related to land policy and land management.
The aim of the conference was to foster dialogue based largely on the findings of current research activities and the lessons learnt from the implementation of land-related projects, both from a national as well as an international development co-operation perspective. In this sense, the conference allowed for active sharing of examples regarding the diversity of reforms, methodologies and knowledge in the land sector that are of interest to communities, land practitioners and policy-makers at all levels.
Particular reference was made throughout most of the paper sessions and political round tables to gender aspects and the central importance of women’s land rights as well as the relevance of fostering secure access to land rights for all, especially for marginalised or disadvantaged groups like the poor, small farmers and indigenous people.
Private investment in land, in a responsible and sustainable manner and both by international and domestic investors, and the implementation of the internationally ratified Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI Principles) were handled as outstandingly important topics throughout the conference. In both cases, the debate concentrated on experiences gathered from implementation and deriving lessons learned which could be up-scaled and disseminated in a diversity of economic, social and environmental situations. For this purpose, the role of applied research and availability of open data was highlighted and discussed in a number of sessions.
As last year, the programme comprised an Innovations Fair concentrating on how advances in technology and open data can help improve land governance at scale. Particular focus was laid on low cost technologies for collection, display and management of a variety of types of data, serving different purposes in accordance with the specific requirements of the contextual situations. Clear emphasis was put on the appropriateness of the data collection methods with due consideration of the technical and economic capacities and objectives of the responsible organisations.
In addition, the programme included a full day of Master Classes in which the presenters offered hands-on sessions in a classroom-setting to familiarise participants with cutting-edge concepts, tools and techniques developed to assist policy-makers and practitioners in their daily work, particularly with regard to the implementation of the above-mentioned international guidelines.
German organisations, both non-governmental and governmental and from academia and research, were represented in a growing variety at the conference. As in previous years, BMZ, together with other donors, co-founded the conference, which can be seen as the most important gathering in the land sector world-wide. BMZ also hosted the traditional German Reception to strengthen ties between numerous land partners and BMZ/GIZ programmes and projects from around the world. BMZ/GIZ facilitated the participation of partners from Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa.
BMZ and GIZ were actively engaged in various sessions, presented a number of papers and chaired several sessions (all papers are available at the conference website). Furthermore, BMZ and GIZ participated in the second yearly physical meeting of the Global Donor Working Group on Land where an overview of on-going work from all donors with particular focus on the implementation of the VGGT and the current status of the SDG process was provided.
Jorge Espinoza, Christian Graefen, Jana Arnold, GIZ Eschborn, Germany
For more information:
Land conference website