Current Date:

Thursday, 20 September 2018
 

Land Conference, Challenges and Opportunities (1) 15-16 April 2018

(Alula Berhe - Najat Ahmed) The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Physical Development and the Darfur land Commission in collaboration with UNDP, UN-HABITAT, FAO and GLTN have launched yesterday April 15th “The Land Conference –   Challenges and Opportunities” amidst wide participation from   government officials, federal, state and local level, UN agencies, academia, private sector, civil society, community-based organizations, native administration and representatives of the donor community.
This two day conference marks the first step towards improving land governance and land management in the Sudan by stimulating the debate among key Sudanese land actors regarding the challenges and opportunities present in land management in Sudan and to develop a common understanding and vision on key land governance themes.
This two day conference marks the first step towards improving land governance and land management in the Sudan by stimulating the debate among key Sudanese land actors regarding the challenges and opportunities present in land management in Sudan and to develop a common understanding and vision on key land governance themes.
UN-Habitat Director Mr. Wael Al-Ashab addressed the opening session where he highlighted the importance of this conference by stating “The organization of this conference is timely as the security situation continues to improve in Darfur which requires fast responses in terms of housing and services, rapid urbanization, competition over rural land by farmers and pastoralists, large scale land-based investments, and others.  Hence, land management needs to be further strengthened in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Urban Agenda, and the Voluntary Guidelines on Good Governance of Land, Fisheries and Forestry.”
 
Commissioner of the Darfur Land Commission Mr. Mohamed Salih Mango asserted that “The Commission is very pleased with the current coordination between the FAO and the UNDP and other governmental bodies in addressing issues such as Tenure security and peaceful reconciliation of conflicts over land.   Previously, all land-related laws were formulated here in Khartoum.  We are now discussing with the native administration in Darfur different approaches to reform land laws which will then seek the ratification of legislative councils in the five Darfur states.” 
 
H.E. Ambassador Rashid Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Nueimi Ambassador to Qatar further called for the endorsement of the outcomes of this conference  by stating “This process is owned by all Darfurians who contributed and participated in the consultations represented by the Darfur native administration and Nomads and Farmers Unions. This conference has brought Darfurians’ concerns forward but this is still the beginning and there is still more to accomplish.  Qatar will continue to support rebuilding and development efforts in Darfur as part of its firm commitment to supporting the Doha Peace Agreement.”
 
United Nations Resident Coordinator Marta Ruedas reiterated the UN Commitment to overcoming challenges to land management in Darfur such as desertification and urbanization by saying “This conference on land management has been organized based on a general consensus that good land governance is critical for sustainable social and economic development. Indeed, the importance of land resources and land management is captured in SDG 15 as a global goal. The UN family is proud to be part of this workshop on land issues, which is one of the root causes of tensions in Greater Darfur and other parts of Sudan. This technical event starting today is a part of UN joint project called “Strengthening Land Management for Peaceful Co-existence” among the Darfur Land Commission, UN HABITAT, FAO and UNDP, in consultation with all the relevant government entities.  The project started in 2016, with the generous support from Qatar Fund for Development and as part of activities of the Darfur Development Strategy. We are also seeing interest from other donors to support land related programmes.”
 
State Minister of Environment Mr. Abboud Jabir Saeed underscored the importance of this conference by stating “It is important to asses current  land tenure laws and consider  as well the views of the communities on the ground. We are therefore very thankful to the UN and State of Qatar for taking the initiative in this regard.  Sudan, like many other African countries, is blessed with land-based resources, such as fertile agricultural land, and mineral and extractive resources. Many countries also face land related challenges. We are therefore, keen on cooperating with regional and international partners to review relevant lessons learned and good practices from other countries on land management issues.”
 
Background

Sudan is one of the largest countries in the African continent, blessed by a wide variety of natural ecosystems and natural and land-based resources: vast agricultural and grazing lands, fertile soil, availability of water, mineral and extractive resources, etc. Many are also the land related challenges that the country faces: desertification and climate change, large population increase and movements requiring fast responses in terms of housing and services, rapid urbanisation, competition over rural land by farmers and pastoralists, large scale land-based investments, and others. Limited coverage of the territory by land registration and planning instruments, weak layers of governance and customary / native administrations, and young institutions contribute to the difficulties encountered in addressing the described challenges. Poverty, armed conflicts and population displacement add to the complexity of managing Sudan’s land.
Land Governance

Good land governance and land management is crucial for the social and economic development of the country.
In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda, and the Voluntary Guidelines on Good Governance of Land, Fisheries and Forestry, the main aspects of land governance to be addressed in Sudan are:

Theme 1: Tenure security - Tenure security matters because it is the basis for adequate housing, settlement upgrading, responsible private investment and the overall prosperity of an inclusive and safe city. No one should be left behind concerning land rights and government should recognize, respect and safeguard all legitimate land tenure rights, including informal and customary tenure. Women, youth and vulnerable groups should be particularly addressed. Businesses are also responsible for respecting human rights and legitimate land tenure rights.

Theme 2: Fit for purpose land administration – It includes formal and customary land administration. It is important because: a) it creates short, simple, affordable land procedures and standards adjusted to local requirements; b) it creates accountability, transparency and participation of all key stakeholders when managing land; c) it enables customer-friendly delivery systems that are effective and efficient, accessible and affordable, accountable and transparent, and that exploit digital and communication technologies as well as the wide range of data and information, including geospatial information; d) it leads to transparent and responsible public and private land management; e) it underpins the establishment and implementation of national land policies, laws and standards in accordance with international law;
Theme 3: Peace and stability - There is increased evidence that land-related issues are one of the main root causes of civil unrest and violent conflicts globally, and they contribute to protracting conflicts in fragile states. Sudan is no exception. Good land governance is therefore more and more considered to be a key element for the prevention, mitigation and resolution of conflicts and for the early recovery of societies emerging from war. Further, internal conflicts seem to have higher incidence in states where institutions are weak, capacity is low and the legitimacy of the government is questioned. Land governance interventions are also crucial for strengthening the capacity, the institutions and the legitimacy of the state, aspects that can be considered as building blocks for state-building. State-building in conflict settings enhances the capacity, institutions and legitimacy of the state. In regard to land, capacity is the ability of the state to design and implement land related policies and laws, maintain rule of law and protect people from forced evictions. In regard to legitimacy, which is about whether the people and the have mutual trust and similar understanding of the concept, land policy processes develop the legitimacy of the state. Land administration systems must legitimise land tenure relationships between citizens and the state in a way that people can trust the government. Institutions are arrangement that structure political, economic and social interaction such as laws or customary practices. Land related examples are land laws for restitution, customary rules such as territorial agreements for stock routes, land record systems for forcibly abandoned houses. All of this builds land governance. It is therefore considered that land governance provides a solid foundation for conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution, early recovery and development as it addresses land as a root cause of conflicts and land governance process contribute to state-building and peace building.
In Sudan, the capacities to understand, monitor and address these land governance aspects need to be strengthened at the different levels of governance and with the support of the national and regional research and academic institutions. National and international development and humanitarian partners need to have a shared understanding and vision for taking the land governance agenda forward, to ensure socio-economic development, peace and stability in the country.
The National Land Conference will be a first step towards the improvement of land governance and land management in the country by stimulating the debate among key Sudanese land actors on the priority challenges and opportunities and develop a common understanding and vision for the way forward. 

Objectives 

The Conference provided an opportunity for national, regional and international land actors in Sudan to share ideas and discuss about key land governance themes. Opinions, challenges and possible options for the way forward will be shared by participants of difference experience and background.
The overall objective of the Conference was to develop a joint understanding of key land governance challenges and opportunities in Sudan and form a common vision with key recommendations for the way forward improving land governance in Sudan.
Recommendations of the conference focused on the imperative need to introduce reforms to the current land laws arguing that certain laws are conflicting and hence do not prioritize the interest of the land owners and should be revisited. Other issues included the need to boost awareness amongst communities on the rights of individuals in addition to the removal of current bottlenecks hindering proper registration of land. Participants further called for the need to address desertification and climate change’s impact on fertile land and to replicate the successful experiences of smart partnership between the private sector and the public in Darfur.