LANDac, the Netherlands Academie on Land Governance for Equitable and Sustainable Development, is a partnership between Dutch organizations working on land governance. The partners are the International Development Studies (IDS) group at Utrecht University (leading partner), African Studies Centre, Agriterra, the Sociology of Development and Change (SDC) group at Wageningen University, the Land Portal Foundation, HIVOS, the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Enclude Solutions.
Land, Crisis and Resilience
30 June – 2 July 2021
afternoons (CEST), online
The LANDac Annual International Conference offers a podium for knowledge exchange between researchers, practitioners and private sector representatives interested in land governance for equitable and sustainable development. Anticipating that the COVID-19 global crisis will continue to restrict travel and large-scale events, the LANDac Annual International Conference 2021 will be held in an online format.
This year’s conference ‘Land, Crisis and Resilience’ focused on the challenges that global, intertwining crises pose to land governance systems, processes and actors. The global pandemic and the expected economic decline play out simultaneously with ongoing effects of climate change and persistent food insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic put land access and land governance under pressure, and both uncovered and deepened underlying problems. While we have only started to document the impacts of the pandemic on rural and urban livelihoods, we also need to ask how it plays out in relation to these other crises, chronic (such as poverty) or acute (e.g. climate-related hazards). To this background, the conference addresses three interconnected questions:
- How do different global crises impact land access? (And where do we see the biggest problems?)
- How does the land governance landscape respond? (And where does it need to do better?)
- What can we learn about resilience in response to these intertwined crises? (And how could land governance support that?)
LAND, CRISIS AND RESILIENCE
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, governments all over the world have taken unprecedented measures to contain the spread of the virus, curtailing individual freedoms, closing borders, shutting down non-essential businesses and services, imposing curfews, and restricting national and international travel. The consequences of these restrictions have hit hard on the poorest and the most marginalized. Issues such as urban-to-rural migration, discontinuation of land administration services, disruption of food supply chains, and a shrinking civil space have been reported at the beginning of the global pandemic, but much is unclear about the mid-to-longer term effects.
Climate change had only started to gain prominence on the land governance agenda and there is a clear need to reflect on the land footprint of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. Both alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar energy, and infrastructural interventions translate into claims on land and will compete with existing rights or other potential uses of the land. Another concern relates to the shifts in land use patterns and people’s mobility (from and between rural and urban areas) in response to differential effects of climate change such as extreme weather events, or unpredictability of rainfall. We may expect this to increase land scarcity in some places while potentially reducing it in others. There are important questions to be asked about the way these claims are dealt with and whether principles of ‘good governance’ are upheld in the face of the climate imperative; how this will shape rural and urban landscapes; and how land governance institutions and instruments may support sustainable land use and food security.
The conference is also an opportunity to take a critical look at the concept and experiences of resilience to these crises. Key concerns are to what extent adaptation and coping strategies have helped different population groups get by so far but also where future coping is clearly undermined, Important questions pertain to the resilience in the face of multiple crises at different spatial and temporal scales, but also where social protection measures seem needed to avoid vicious circles of loss of assets and the undermining of livelihoods.
ONLINE CONFERENCE FORMAT
In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 global crisis, the LANDac Annual International Conference 2021 will be held in an online format. This online format broadens the ways for participants to attend the conference: people from all over the world can join us without having to travel. The programme of this conference will include a diversity of keynote speakers from research and practice and several parallel sessions (roundtables, workshops, discussions) that participants can actively join. Keep an eye on the LANDac website for updates.
REGISTRATION AND FEES
Registration for the conference will open in Spring 2021 and close mid-June 2021. The fee to join the full conference (incl. key notes) online is €25. We regret that LANDac is unable to cover any participant expenses.
ORGANISING COMMITTEE OF THE 2021 CONFERENCE
Joanny Bélair (Utrecht University and LANDac), Gemma van der Haar (Wageningen University and LANDac), Dominique Schmid (Utrecht University), Richard Sliuzas (ITC – University of Twente), Marja Spierenburg (Leiden University), Guus van Westen (Utrecht University and LANDac), Chantal Wieckardt (LANDac).
- Dr Shuaib Lwasa
Shuaib Lwasa is a Principal Researcher on Governance at the Global Center on Adaptation. Shuaib has over 22 years experiences of university teaching and research as Professor of Urban Sustainability at Makerere University. He has worked extensively on interdisciplinary research projects focused on African cities but also in South Asia. His publications are in the areas of urban mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, urban environmental management, spatial planning, and disaster risk reduction, urban sustainability. Shuaib is a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC WG III Chapter 8 “Urban Systems and Human Settlements” and Lead Author for the IPCC Special report on Land and Climate Change.
- Silas Siakor
Silas Siakor is actively working with the Government of Liberia and civil society organizations, directly coordinating efforts to bring more than 1 million hectares of land under local communities control and ownership by the end of 2021. He has championed community forest and land rights in Liberia for about two decades. For his work, he has received several international awards, including the Whitley Award for Environment and Human Rights in 2002 (UK), the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2006 (US), Award for Outstanding Environmental and Human Rights Activism from the Alexander Soros Foundation (US), Mundo Negro Fraternity Award in 2018 (Spain) and was among Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment in 2008. Silas founded the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) in Liberia and served as its first Director from 2005 to 2009. He also stars in the award-winning 2018 documentary ‘Silas’, that was screened at IDFA and in various movie houses in the Netherlands and beyond in 2018. Silas joined IDH in 2015, leads IDH work on land governance, coordinating Participatory Land Use Planning and Customary Land rights formalization, and now serves as Country Manager.
- Dr Wytske Chamberlain
Wytske Chamberlain works with the Land Matrix, Africa RFP, hosted by the University of Pretoria. Over a period stretching more than ten years, she has developed deep insights into large-scale land acquisitions across the African continent. Besides her activities in the area of large-scale land investments, Wytske has specialised in the field of inclusive business models, in particular in the agricultural sector. She has done extensive research into the complex and compound structures that enable the integration of smallholder farmers and poor rural communities into commercial value chains in South Africa. Her interests furthermore lie in the area of land governance. Dr Chamberlain holds a PhD in Rural Development from the University of Pretoria, an MA degree in Human Geography from the University of the Witwatersrand, and an Honours degree in International Economics and Economic Geography from Utrecht University.
The LANDac Conference 2021 was opened by the Co-Chairs of LANDac, Dr. Gemma van der Haar from Wageningen University and Dr. Guus van Westen from Utrecht University. Dr. Guus van Westen noted that theirs is the 11th consecutive LANDac conference, and that last year, labeling the conference an Online Encounter, we were not yet ready to accept the new reality of COVID-19. This shift has enabled LANDac to reach new audiences that were not previously part of the LANDac crowd.
From 2013 to 2016, Oxfam's Behind the Brands campaign called on the 10 biggest food and beverage companies to adopt stronger land rights commitments. Now, as the coronavirus pandemic worsens inequality and food insecurity around the world, we asked the question: Are companies taking meaningful steps to implement their commitments?
In this session, we explored the linkages between Strategic Environmental Assessment and land governance. SEA often deals with land-related aspects in planning, and has the potential to ensure that they are satisfactorily dealt with in decision making. This potential could reach further if SEA would be applied more widely and, most importantly, before irreversible changes to land and land use are made. Doing SEA before ESIA for concrete investments can help avoid some of the land related challenges and conflicts currently encountered.
This session brought together colleagues from different organizations working in the broad field of land rights, discussing lessons and experiences from working in crisis mode, in fragile and conflict affected settings. The participants shared experiences, challenges they faced especially during Covid, the solutions they found and critically reflected on shortcomings and unsolved issues.
This session focussed on the transition towards more sustainable food systems in light of the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit. Four presenters shared their work, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, and their recommendations towards more fair and sustainable production of food, as well as recommendation to change the way we think about food.
This session sought to explore examples of international community land ownership and to collate the experiences of community land governance during the pandemic.
The session aimed to respond to the following questions:
Urban Green Spaces (UGS) are vegetated open spaces that provide a multitude of ecological functions that are essential for the physical and mental well-being of the citizens as well as for the urban environment. However, land is an extremely competitive resource in cities that are struggling to sustain the ever-growing urban population and UGS are constantly under threat of urban encroachment. Even the well spread out cities are pressured to densify by the more commonplace ‘sustainable dense urban neighbourhood’ approach that in turn, increases the pressure on open spaces such as UGS.
Community forestry has the potential to contribute to sustainable livelihoods in poor and marginalized communities in and near forests. In practice, however, the benefits of collectively managed forests may end up in the hand of local elites. Based on presentations from Bolivia, the Philippines and Nepal, participants in this session discussed, among others: (i) What is the role and importance of individual benefits in a model that is based on collective forest rights?
This session aimed to generate discussions on different experiences of infrastructure development that addresses climate change in cities. It paid particular attention to new transportation “corridor” development, which has increasingly become popular as a way to redesign the rapidly growing city to reduce traffic congestions and thereby carbon emissions, promote affordable public transportation system, and to make public green spaces accessible for all the citizens. However, it is known that it significantly affects ways that urban land is used, accessed and governed by local communities.
A recent paper explores a case study of a palm oil project in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, in which competing claims of recognition and land rights have led to conflict between transmigrants and indigenous Kutai people. The study offers evidence to understand the neglected perspective – and recognition – of migrants in situations of environmental injustice.
My name is Silas Siakor and I am the Country Manager at IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative in Liberia. I have worked on natural resource governance for the past 20 years - with a focus on land and forest. I am deeply honored to speak at this year’s conference to share some reflections based on the Liberian experience and to send a clarion call to civil society, academia, and private sector to step up and do more to strengthen land governance. The future of our planet depends on it.
The COVID-19 crisis exacerbated land governance challenges, including addressing failures in land governance systems, a lack of transparency, systemic corruption, and lack of accessibility to data. It undermines development progress on global food security and has driven people into poverty, while governments take license to develop indigenous and community lands and thus fuel the climate crisis.
Over time, land registration has been associated with a diversity of desired outcomes, ranging from modernization and the promotion of sustainable agricultural production to protection of the livelihoods of small-scale producers notably women, peacebuilding or even nurturing good practices of local governance. In this session we have discussed, for a range of settings: How confident are we about the results of registration and formalization program? How have they been justified and have the ambitions been reached?
The Côte d’Ivoire Land Partnership (CLAP) brings public and private sectors together to work for affordable land documentation for smallholder farmers at scale. The panellists explained that land security should be at the core of corporate sustainability agendas because it translates into benefits across supply chains. Providing smallholder farmers with land documentation to strengthen their land rights has an impact on their lives, their families and also their productivity.
Early this year, the Arab region saw a series of webinars and meetings about the status of land-related information and data.
This session was inspired by the Idai and Kenneth cyclones that hit Mozambique in 2019, as well as military instability in the north of the country, resulting in massive displacements. In this session, presenters discussed the consequences of and prospects for resettlement legislation and procedures in Mozambique in light of increased climate change vulnerability, focusing on impacts on livelihoods and relations with host communities.
After three days of intense discussion covering the breadth of land governance issues focusing on the theme of Land, Crisis and Resilience, Dr. Joanny Bélair, Postdoctoral researcher from Utrecht University and LANDac, had the unique opportunity to Chair the closing Session of the LANDac Conference 2021. Closing session panelists were Dr.
In the second PhD session of the LANDac Conference 2021, three PhD researchers presented their work in progress. We learned about slums in Abuja, Nigeria, about forest rights in India, and about the relation between inequalities in soil fertility, gender, and access to subsidies. Each presentation was discussed by an expert from the LANDac network.