The concern for ‘pro-poor’ land policy has coincided with the mainstream promotion of efficient administration of land policies, leading to the concept of ‘land governance’. This paper aims at better understanding of contemporary policy discourses and political contestations around land and land governance.
What is governance? There are different definitions, but it can be conceived as the way that authority is exercised. Governance is networked, globalised, territorialised and differentiated. Governance has different objectives for different actors and actor networks. While it is a contested concept, globally governance is becoming increasingly financialised, and in some cases this includes land governance.
At the turn of the 21st century, farmland was still considered an investment backwater by most of the financial sector. Although some insurance companies have had farmland holdings for years, most financial investors found farmland, and agricultural investment in general, unappealing compared to the much higher returns to be made in financial markets.
Global pressure on land and natural resources is mounting, with mainstream narratives about climate change often intensifying pressure to replace so-called "inefficient" users of land, including small farmers and pastoralists with market-based dynamics and actors. This dynamic makes the pursuit of socially just land policy ever more important and urgent, while at the same time creating new challenges. The fundamental connections and tensions between agrarian and climate justice must be reckoned with, and movements on both sides must deepen their understanding.
Jun Borras, Jennifer Franco, Clara Mi Young Park, Mads Barbesgaard, Yukari Sekine, Ye Lin Myint, Thant Zin
02 March 2018
Dominant approaches to climate change mitigation are putting new pressures on small farmers and village dwellers, justifying dispossession by powerful actors who cast villagers' traditional ways of life as ecologically destructive or economically inefficient. In order to address the twin challenges of agrarian justice and climate justice, it is critical to understand the way new conflicts and initiatives intersect with old conflicts and the way they are compounded by undemocratic settings, and inequality and division along fault-lines of gender, ethnicity, class, and generation.
With two-thirds of the world’s poor rural poor, rural democratisation is clearly relevant and urgent, but at the same time an especially difficult--and underestimated--challenge. If democracy is to be organically rooted in any society, the struggle to “get there” must systematically be opened up to integrate rural poor citizens system-wide, taking stock of their aspirations and, more importantly, their existing efforts to gain control of decision-making affecting their lives.