Global Land Forum forges international agreement on territorial development

From the International Land Coalition:

Antigua Declaration outlines strong international commitment to land rights for indigenous peoples, human rights defenders and women

ROME, ITALY (17 May 2013)— As the global population continues to grow and the demand for food and the land to produce it on increase in lock step, the International Land Coalition brought together 273 people from 47 countries in Antigua, Guatemala from April 23-27 to discuss territorial governance and food security in the context of rapid urbanisation and shifting patterns of land use throughout the developing world.
This global event included extensive participation of the government of Guatemala, including a speech by President Otto Pérez Molina during the opening ceremony, in which he expressed a renewed commitment to the Integrated Rural Development Law.
The 36-year civil war suffered by Guatemala led to both the fragmentation and concentration of land. In response to these disturbing developments, the forum aimed to create a new platform for dialogue and consultation in Guatemala and to forge a more just and inclusive process for this country.
“Given the extent of commoditisation of farmland, transnational land transactions, severe land degradation, and the profound transformation of rural landscapes as a consequence, we have reached a critical period in which states must make genuine efforts to protect the rights of impoverished and vulnerable groups, in particular small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples, or increased conflict and instability may jeopardise the economic stability of countries, including Guatemala”, said Madiodio Niasse, Director of the International Land Coalition, based in Rome, which works for secure and equitable access to and control over land.  “We hope that the discussion we have started will open a new era of dialogue and consultation to have better equity in the way this country addresses land issues.”

The Global Land Forum and Assembly of Members culminated in the approval of the Antigua Declaration by ILC members. The declaration recognises the need for land to be looked at not just as a productive asset, but to be valued for the various functions that it plays, including cultural, spiritual and ecological functions; it highlights that land is a means of establishing the dignity and inclusiveness of people. A notion of territorial development that reflects this multiplicity of functions was the first element of consensus of ILC members.
Importantly, the declaration recognises the commitment of the government of Guatemala to compensate the families evicted in the Polochic Valley in the name of agricultural investment.
Consensus was also achieved concerning the that idea that investment in land is indeed needed, but that models of investment should take into consideration the need to mobilise resources directly from smallholder farmers, as they are uniquely positioned to maintain the integrity of the land, taking into account territorial perspectives.
Moreover, noting the impact of increased commercial pressures on land, the territories most at risk are those of indigenous peoples. The rights of indigenous peoples to protect their land must be defended, as land is the source of cultural identity. Through the declaration, ILC members have made the commitment to support indigenous peoples more effectively in their struggle for territorial rights and the protection of their environments.
Other issues in focus during the forum including strong support for promoting women’s land rights and gender justice, denouncing all forms of human rights violations, the importance of environmental sustainability for achieving the Right to Food, and transparency and accountability in dealing with land issues.
In a re-affirmation of their commitment to promotion and supporting the operationalization of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure and the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, ILC members also approved a proclamation on people-centred land governance as an annex to the Antigua Declaration, which outlines ten specific actions that are essential for furthering the pro-poor dimensions of these international norms.
“The realisation of the Global Land Forum has benefited both Guatemalan civil society and peasant organisations in Guatemala, enabling us to share learning on themes of agriculture and rural development, and serving as a bridge that allows us to communicate directly with the state, national government and private sector˝, said Helmer Velásquez, Director of ILC member CONGCOOP, representing the national organising committee.
“Securing land rights for all, especially for the rural poor, for the landless and for women is an unparalleled means to achieving redistributive justice, especially in agrarian economies. It helps mobilise investment from the bottom, increase agricultural outputs, boost trade, expand food processing capacities and accelerate the development of rural infrastructure, hence triggering a virtuous circle of growth, prosperity and equity in wealth distribution”, said Madiodio Niasse. “The results of the Global Land Forum, including the Antigua Declaration, will help to guide and transform the way ILC members, from grassroots organisations to intergovernmental agencies, treat these issues for years to come”.
The organization of the event was supported by a national organising committee composed by the Asociacion Comité de Desarrollo Campesino (CODECA), Comité Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA), Coordinacion de ONG y Cooperativas (CONGCOOP), Unión Verapacense de Organizaciones Campesinas (UVOC) and Oxfam-Guatemala.
Every two years, ILC organises an international Forum to convene its members and other stakeholders on land to advance understanding of the complex and dynamic political, economic, environmental and societal linkages between land governance, food security, poverty and democracy. ILC’s ultimate objective is to mobilise its members and partners to influence land-related policy practice. In pursuit of this objective, the Coalition facilitates multi-stakeholder processes in the search for people-centred responses to land governance challenges.
The Antigua Declaration: 
The Outcome Statement of the Global Land Forum: 
The Global Land Forum on the International Land Coalition website:
Photographs of the Global Land Forum:
Videos from the Global Land Forum and marketplace interviews:
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