In May 2012 the U.N. Committee on World Food Security set out principles to guide countries in designing and implementing laws that govern property rights over land, fisheries and forests for agricultural and other uses. It is designed “so that both investors can invest with some kind of certainty that their investments will be secure and, at the same time, those people who hold the resources or the assets—the people who have the land in the countries where we work—will also have some certainty that they will be able to benefit from the investments that are made,” says Gregory Myers, USAID’s division chief for land tenure and property rights.
In relation to global hunger issues, Myers goes on to say, “Clearly, we need to do something to promote agriculture… but that means there has to be investment in agriculture. So the bottom line is that we have to find a way to bring private-sector investment into this equation. And the only way that’s going to happen sustainably and in a way that’s not going to lead to a lot of violence or conflict is that we’re going to have to address the issue of property rights.”
Land rights are fundamental to development, these guidelines are expected to pave the way for “landowners” to establish clearer rights to land and other resources in developing countries. This critical act—multiplied many times over in countries across the globe—could have profound consequences for the economies of developing countries, and reverse the trend of speculators snatching land without permission from the people who have historically considered it their own.
– Mary Purcell