Putting the VGGT into practice | Land Portal

Putting the VGGT into practice

What does implementation mean?

In general, there is a difference between defining VGGT implementation from an action perspective or from a monitoring perspective. Discussions about the meaning of implementation rather stem from a monitoring perspective.

The VGGT provide process and content-related guidance on land issues that can be used to develop and implement laws, policies and programmes. Implementing is the act of putting something into effect. Implementing the VGGT can hence be any contribution by an individual or a group to improve governance of tenure within the framework of the VGGT. Implementation can take as many forms as provisions given in the VGGT. This can involve using the VGGT as a framework that provides an overview or a roadmap of the different topics that are relevant to improving governance of tenure and how they link to each other. It can also involve using the VGGT as a benchmark against which one can compare the status quo of tenure governance and its processes as a whole or for selected topics.


Who can implement?

The main responsibility of improving governance of tenure lies with States. Yet, all stakeholders can/or may contribute to improving governance of tenure.  They have a role in improving the way they do things by themselves, within the scope of their own responsibilities and context, and in and through collaboration with other stakeholders.

VGGT par. 2.3 defines who, in principle, can use the VGGT:

These Guidelines can be used by States; implementing agencies; judicial authorities; local governments; organizations of farmers and small-scale producers, of fishers, and of forest users; pastoralists; indigenous peoples and other communities; civil society; private sector; academia; and all persons concerned to assess tenure governance and identify improvements and apply them. (VGGT par. 2.3)

In addition, various further paragraphs emphasize the roles of stakeholder groups for specific situations, e.g. “States should”, “business enterprises should”, “Indigenous peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems should”, “development partners and specialized agencies of the United Nations should”. However, having specified the potential to use the VGGT by everyone in par. 2.3, all paragraphs are relevant to all stakeholder groups in learning what responsible practices look like and all stakeholder groups may contribute to realizing all provisions of the VGGT.

Next to defining the roles of stakeholder groups in implementation, the VGGT also strictly emphasize in over 45 paragraphs the need for collaboration and for inclusive and participatory processes as a basis for all actions to improve governance of tenure. This includes the overarching implementation principle 3B6, on consultation and participation, and par. 26.2 which encourages States to set up multi-stakeholder platforms and frameworks at local, national and regional levels or use such existing platforms and frameworks to collaborate on the implementation of the VGGT.


How is the implementation monitored?

Monitoring the implementation of the VGGT involves seeking the degree of compliance with the VGGT in developing and implementing laws, policies and programmes. Defining the term VGGT implementation from a monitoring perspective hence entails defining the purpose and scope of implementation, such as: are we considering country-level implementation and, if so, improving governance of tenure overall, or just specific aspects of it? Are we monitoring the degree of implementation by a specific organization, profession or a group of people?

The VGGT themselves include provisions on monitoring, such as on what should be monitored by whom and through which process. They call for the monitoring of the progress of VGGT implementation at country level and its impact on overarching development goals in Part 7, on Promotion, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In addition, they provide guidance to monitor specific topics of interest in various other parts of the VGGT.

In accordance with the voluntary nature of these Guidelines, States have the responsibility for their implementation, monitoring and evaluation. (VGGT, par. 26.1)

States are encouraged to set up multi-stakeholder platforms and frameworks […] to monitor and evaluate the implementation in their jurisdictions.(VGGT par. 26.2)

Through the principle of implementation 10, Continuous improvement, the VGGT further provide for monitoring systems to be embedded in all processes to improve and maintain responsible tenure governance:

States should improve mechanisms for monitoring and analysis of tenure governance in order to develop evidence-based programmes and secure on-going improvements. (VGGT par. 3B10)

Paragraph 26.4 further identifies the Committee on World Food Security as the global forum, where all relevant actors assess progress towards the implementation.

The Committee on World Food Security should be the global forum where all relevant actors […] assess progress toward the implementation of these Guidelines. […] Therefore, the Secretariat of the Committee on World Food Security, in collaboration with the Advisory Group, should report to the Committee on World Food Security on the progress of the implementation of these Guidelines. (VGGT par. 26.4)

These provisions, however, do not entail any quantitative targets or indicators to measure the degree of compliance to the VGGT.  A data story published by Land Portal explores the data deficit to monitor progress of the VGGT.


Examples of implementation

If implementing the VGGT is any contribution by an individual or a group to improve governance of tenure within the framework of the VGGT, possibilities of implementation are as multi-facetted as the VGGT. For instance, the Committee on World Food Security in 2016 collected 62 examples of implementation.

More examples of implementation:

  • Sierra Leone, developed an inclusive and participatory institutional framework across Ministries and stakeholder groups and passed a Land Policy that is based on the VGGT.
  • In Colombia, the VGGT provided the neutral basis for discussions about land issues during the negotiations that led to the 2016 Peace Agreement.
  • Oxfam International highlighted the risks and impacts of sugar cane sourcing by Coca Cola, PepsiCo and other companies for land rights of communities. As a result Coca Cola and PepsiCo committed to showing ‘zero tolerance’ for land grabs. Since then Oxfam has been monitoring their progress and providing guidance for improvements. Read more.
  • The Asian NGO Coalition (ANGOC) in collaboration with GIZ examined Philippine policies on land and resource tenure and ten laws on tenure against the VGGT. Read more.
  • The Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN International) developed a monitoring tool based on the VGGT. In addition, FIAN International in collaboration with local CSO’s designed and implemented training programmes on the VGGT. Read the country-level reports.
  • The Interlaken group is an informal network of leaders from companies, civil society organizations, Indigenous Peoples organizations, and public and private investors.  The group aims at ensuring responsible land rights practices in private sector investments. It developed tailored guidance documents for and with investors and compiles information on the use of the VGGT for the private sector and provides information on private sector commitments to implement the VGGT.


Guides & Toolkits


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