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Natural Resource Governance around the World

The World Forum on Access to Land: a first assessment. (Ed. # 31)

What we found is beyond dispute. The unfavourable evolution of peasants’ access to land and natural resources all around the world and its consequences on the persistence of hunger and exclusion are indisputable. There is an urgency to improve world governance mechanisms. Based on that observation, the General Assembly of AGTER took the decision, on May, 17th, 2014 to organise a World Forum on Access to Land. It was a gamble, but difficulties had been evaluated straightaway.

Indeed, the obstacles encountered by AGTER and the CERAI to unite forces and necessary funding to achieve this project, were bigger than those encountered 12 years ago during the organisation of the World Forum on Agrarian Reform.

After 2 years and half of efforts, thanks to supports provided by public institutions, several foundations and the mobilisation of about 550 peasant and civil society organisations, 12 governmental institutions and more than 630 academics, and eminent personalities (…) who called for its organisation (…), but also thanks to the will of participants, which many of them paid their travel expenses to attend this world meeting, the World Forum on Access to Land and Natural Resources took place from March, 31st to April, 2nd in Valencia.

This Forum allowed about 400 people from 70 countries, to meet each other, to share their experiences and to freely discuss proposals to put an end to the unacceptable and untenable situation of marginalisation and exclusion faced by hundreds millions of peasants, fishers, breeders, forest dwellers but also townspeople.

We can be proud of the progress we have made. However we are all aware of the immense amount of work that remains to be done.

The final synthesis written at the end of the Forum presents only briefly and imperfectly reflections and proposals made by participants. Thus, we have to bring out contributions made during these three day of intense debates, in order to share them with the greatest number of people and organisations.

The WFAL experience reinforces our conclusion that debate around agrarian issue in the 21st century concerns all of us. That is why it is critically important not to only focus on civil society actors who work in the agricultural sector. The reduction of inequalities, the peace in the world, but also the sustainable governance of world resources are at stake. The WFAL illustrated the wish to avoid anyone being left behind from the debate, which not only concerns peasants, but the whole humanity.

Among several innovative analyses that were emphasised during the forum, the demonstration of the superiority of peasant agriculture on industrialised agriculture was particularly striking. This analysis was notably illustrated by a 3 minutes video (…) – today viewed by more than 100,000 persons - only in its French version – that had been particularly appreciated by the different countries’ delegates.

To avoid that this Forum become another forum amongst many others, we all have to work together for the emergence of different policies and for the implementation of new international governance modalities. Since 2012, the lack of political will of the States prevents the application of the « Voluntary guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and other Natural Resources ». The processes of the population’s dispossession, private appropriation of commons and land and natural resources concentration, are still expanding, as reported by participants in WFAL.

As mentioned in the final synthesis, it is more urgent than ever before, to work at « broadening citizen alliances, both urban and rural, and at organising a massive civil society mobilization, which is the only way for an effective development of governance mechanisms that could prevent the concentration of resources by a minority and minimize conflicts associated with that concentration ».

The AGTER broadened networks, thanks in particular to the organisation of the WFAL, will have a key role to play. But these networks will not be sufficient. All readers of this newsletter are invited to disseminate it and to invite their friends and colleagues to join us and take in their own name the achievements of the forum. Let’s collectively move towards proposals adapted to each context to fight the necessary battles to reverse current trends and regain hope in a inhabitable planet for humanity.