|Sustainable land management for food security/land conflict minimisation|
|Friday, 23 April 2010 12:14|
There is an earnest drive for land policy reform in the Pacific as national governments consider ways of strengthening their land tenure systems.Land is important for food security, shelter, community development and economic prosperity. It is becoming even more important in the face of the challenges of urbanisation, migration, population growth and resource-related conflicts.
Customary land owners too are speculating on their present and future livelihoods and are considering radical options for sustainable management of traditional land.
Sustainable land management (SLM) is critical to addressing these challenges and good knowledge of SLM practices allows customary land owners to make informed decisions on land use. SLM can be defined as a process of integrating socio-economic principles with environmental concerns to address issues of:
· Productivity – maintain or enhance production and services
· Stability – reduce the level of production risk
· Protection – protect the potential of natural resources and prevent degradation of soil and water quality
· Viability – be economically viable
· Acceptability – be socially acceptable
SPC Land Use Policy Adviser, Mr Inoke Ratukalou, says SLM is an integrated approach to developing and managing land resources. It attempts to balance development with conservation and is vital in ensuring continued productive use of land for food and shelter and guardianship of land for future generations. However, a major limiting factor for SLM in the Pacific is the lack of data and information on rural land use and management, especially as customary and formal land management systems have co-existed independently of each other for a long time.
Land use planning (LUP) is the systematic assessment of the bio-physical, social, and economic factors impacting on land. Participatory LUP is the involvement of stakeholders, owners and users in all facets of LUP.
The Pacific Regional Land Initiative includes three components with potential to support and complement national and local land policy reform efforts in the Pacific:
· Land management and conflict minimisation (LMCM). Land is central to the cultural identity of the Pacific Islands. Conflicts over customary areas are potential sources of instability and some Pacific states have a separate court system to settle land disputes. Findings of research conducted by the Forum Secretariat in 2006 into the linkages between land management and conflict minimisation in the Pacific were presented to the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in 2008, which subsequently endorsed the implementation of the regional LMCM initiative by LRD.
· Pacific Urban Agenda (PUA). Urbanisation is increasing in the Pacific, with associated problems including poor housing, lack of access to land and water, and insecurity of tenure. In 2007, an estimated 2.3 million people lived in urban areas in the Pacific Islands out of a total population of 9.3 million. Urban growth will continue to increase and PUA was established to address this concern. The PUA framework was developed in 2003 and became part of the Pacific Plan in 2005. The framework includes a strong land dimension with its focus on urban land planning in relation to customary land and the development of peri-urban settlements. SPC is the implementing agency for the initiative.
· Pacific Regional Land Programme. The programme is anAusAID initiative developed in 2006 to support countries in the region wanting to make more land available for economic and social development. Its two long-term objectives are capacity building and coordination and information sharing. The first phase, which focused on identifying innovative practices and key principles for working effectively with customary forms of tenure in the Pacific, has been completed. The findings were released in the report, Making Land Available, which was launched in 2008 at the land conference in Vanuatu. The second phase, which involves assisting Pacific Island countries to review their land tenure systems, began in 2008 in PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
Joint SPC/AusAID design mission for the Pacific Regional Land Programme
In July 2009, SPC and AusAID agreed to undertake joint design of the Pacific Regional Land Programme. A joint approach was considered appropriate because of the similar aims and stakeholders associated with the LMCM and PUA. The collaboration consulted with stakeholders in Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga during the design mission.
The Regional Land Initiative will have three components: (1) information sharing and coordination, which will be provided through a land resource centre to be based at LRD; (2) formal education and professional development with education activities to be provided through the USP Department of Land Management, with support for scholarships, staff development, etc.; and (3) a funding facility with resources available for prioritised activities of regional concern. The facility will work with service providers outside of SPC and USP with direct linkages to landholders and land practitioners.
A steering group has been set up to provide strategic oversight and advice and final consultations will be held with USP and SPC to resolve some issues before the design documentation can be finalised.
SPC is committed to helping PICTs to develop national rural land use policies, as recommended at the heads of agriculture and forestry meeting in 2004. Technical assistance has already been provided to Fiji and Cook Islands, while the current SPC/GTZ Adaptation for Climate Change project being carried out in Tonga and Vanuatu allows for the development of their national rural land use policies.