Land rights

A woman and a child walk across a field in Bangladesh with some goats in tow.
The SDC is working to ensure that the poorest population groups in rural areas have fair access to land and other natural resources. © IFAD/G.M.B.Akash

Just as in high-income countries, agricultural land in low- and middle-income countries is in increasingly short supply. Infrastructure, urban expansion and investments in large-scale farms are encroaching on land previously used by smallholders. Broad-based regulations are necessary to ensure fair access to land and other natural resources, especially for poorer population groups in rural areas. The SDC is committed to establishing such regulations at the national, regional and global levels.

The SDC's focus

The SDC works to ensure equitable access to land and other natural resources such as water, especially for poorer population groups in rural areas. As well as being vital to sustain life, they also act as important productive resources for smallholder farmers. Land law determines whether and how the right to use and control land, fisheries and forests can be exercised. Guaranteeing the right to use and own land is key to combating poverty and hunger.

With the aim of reducing poverty and hunger in poorer sections of the population, the SDC supports governments in the development, implementation and oversight of fair and transparent land use policies that recognise all existing rights of use, including individual, collective and customary rights.

At the same time, the SDC encourages the participation of all stakeholders in drawing up such principles and supports local communities and farmers' organisations so that they are able to exercise their land use rights. For the SDC, the inclusion of the private sector in such processes is of high priority.

At the global level, the SDC has participated actively in the creation and implementation of a set of targeted regulations that promote a just tenure and land management policy and establish criteria for responsible investment in agriculture.

Guidelines and principles on the responsible governance of tenure

As a member of the Bureau of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Switzerland was instrumental in developing the current UN Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security in 2012. Over the next two years, Switzerland led negotiations on a set of Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, intended to complement the Guidelines. In 2014, it brought the process to a successful conclusion with the adoption of the Principles. Together with other states, private sector organisations, civil society and UN agencies, the SDC is actively involved in implementing these Guidelines and Principles. This lays the foundation for securing land use rights for all and enabling investments into better production methods.

The SDC also supports implementation of the African Union (AU) Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa, adopted in 2009, which pledges to ensure equitable access to and the efficient and sustainable use of land. To this end, the SDC works closely with the African Land Policy Centre, which is directly responsible for implementing the AU Framework and Guidelines. The SDC also broadens and strengthens the expertise of the relevant decision-makers and public officials in order to improve the assessment of land-related investment contracts.

Background

Approximately 70% of the more than 800 million chronically undernourished people in low- and middle income countries countries live in rural areas, the majority growing crops or rearing livestock. For them, security of access to land and other natural resources is especially important. Equally important is secure access to land for the rapidly increasing urban population, both for housing and for growing food in small gardens (urban agriculture).

Investments in land can have a major adverse impact on the food security of local communities. The legitimate call for increased investment in agriculture often focuses on the economic dimension, leaving aside social and environmental issues. As a result, such investments often restrict access to land and other natural resources such as water. Moreover, they contribute to reducing biodiversity in agriculture and threaten fragile ecosystems. In many cases, serious human rights violations occur.

Land-related investments are often concluded with no or minimal prior consultation of the affected rural populations. Most large-scale land transactions thus lack transparency and accountability at all levels. At country level, line ministries and parliaments are rarely invited to scrutinise investment projects involving large-scale land acquisitions and leases. When decision- and policymakers are involved, they often lack the capacity to thoroughly examine legal and transactional issues related to investment contracts at national level.

Land-law principles and guidelines such as those supported by the SDC are needed to make information on land deals available and to update it continuously. Dialogue with all stakeholders, including the private sector and government officials, helps create space for the needs and concerns of disadvantaged groups in policymaking processes. In this context, grievance mechanisms enable affected populations to hold governments and/or investors accountable and, where applicable, obtain appropriate compensation.

Switzerland is aware that existential issues such as those relating to land access, use and tenure have to be resolved in consultation with all stakeholders if conflicts are to be prevented.

Documents

Current projects

Object 61 – 72 of 3082

IDA: International Development Association – Core Contribution 2014-2017

01.07.2014 - 31.12.2023

The World Bank Group’s (WBG) mandate is to support countries in reducing poverty by creating opportunities for economic growth, strengthening governance, managing risks and empowering the poor and vulnerable. The International Development Association (IDA) is the part of the World Bank Group that helps the world’s poorest countries.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Global
Other
Sector not specified

01.07.2014 - 31.12.2023


CHF 752'750'000



Promoting the Quality of Basic Education in Chad (ProQEB)

A young mother takes advantage of learning opportunities at the literacy centre in Oum Hadjer in the Batha region of Chad.

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2018

International Literacy Day is celebrated annually on 8 September to raise awareness of the value of a literate society and the challenges that still lie ahead. As part of a programme to improve access to education and the quality of basic education in Chad, the SDC is supporting literacy efforts aimed mainly at women.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Chad
Education
Primary education
Basic life skills

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2018


CHF 10'955'000



Disaster risk reduction and integrated watershed management in Muminabad, Tajikistan

A group of men standing next to the recently built outlet of a drainage canal.

01.07.2014 - 08.12.2016

In Muminabad District in Tajikistan, Switzerland is reducing the risk of natural disasters and promoting the integrated management of the Obishur and Chukurak watersheds. Sustainable agriculture and livestock production carried out by local people with the support of the local authorities creates the necessary conditions for integrated watershed management.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Tajikistan
Climate change and environment
Disaster risk reduction DRR
Environmental policy

01.07.2014 - 08.12.2016


CHF 1'199'525



The members of municipal councils working for democracy

Women and men assembled in a community hall.

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020

With the ‘Empowering Municipal Councils’ project, Switzerland’s international cooperation is helping municipal councils in North Macedonia to become effective local authorities whose community policies take into account the interests of ordinary citizens.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Macedonia
Governance
Decentralisation

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020


CHF 4'000'000



New approach in Bosnia and Herzegovina for democratisation

A man standing in front of a blue gate valve connected to a large blue pipe.

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s water and sanitation infrastructure is outdated and a large segment of the population has no access to a water supply. The starting point for the SDC’s project is good governance – the authorities must be transparent about building and renovation decisions, and ensure an inclusive political process for the citizens their decisions affect.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Governance
Public sector policy
Decentralisation
Democratic participation and civil society

01.07.2014 - 30.06.2020


CHF 12'000'000



AfDB/AfDF: African Development Bank / African Development Fund – Core Contribution

01.05.2014 - 31.12.2023

The mandate of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Development Fund (AfDF) is to promote sustainable economic and social development in Africa by providing support for good governance and private sector development, infrastructure, higher education and vocational training. Switzerland has been supporting the AfDF since its foundation in 1972 and has been a member since 1982.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Africa
Other
Sector not specified

01.05.2014 - 31.12.2023


CHF 207'759'519



Improved climate data

Satellite image showing plumes of smoke rising from forest fires over Sumatra.

01.04.2014 - 31.03.2018

Together with the SDC, MeteoSwiss has committed itself to improving the climate information base worldwide. High-quality, long-term climate measurement series can be used to estimate the consequences of climate change and to provide a greater understanding of the related opportunities and risks. The project has now come to an end after five years.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Global
Climate change and environment
Biosphere protection
Environmental policy

01.04.2014 - 31.03.2018


CHF 3'090'000



Health Care Waste Management in Kyrgyz Hospitals

Zulfia Djumaeva is using a needle cutter to destroy a used syringe. © SDC

01.04.2014 - 31.03.2017

Infectious hospital waste can be a serious threat for patients as well as for medical staff. Therefore, well-organised and safe management of all types of waste are indispensable for a safe environment in health institutions. With an innovative low-cost and thus sustainable approach, the Health Care Waste Management programme in Kyrgyz hospitals is a great success.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Kyrgyzstan
Health
Primary health care
Health systems strengthening
Infectious desease

01.04.2014 - 31.03.2017


CHF 3'060'000



UN CC:Learn – Integrating climate change in school curricula

Three girls and a boy sitting in a classroom.

01.03.2014 - 31.08.2017

UN CC:Learn is a partnership of 33 multilateral organisations which supports member states in designing and implementing results-oriented and sustainable learning to address climate change. The Secretariat for UN CC:Learn is provided by the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). UN CC:Learn supports countries in developing national strategies to strengthen human resources and skills to advance green, low emission and climate resilient development (also referred to as climate change learning strategies).

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Global
Climate change and environment
Environmental policy
Biosphere protection
Disaster risk reduction DRR

01.03.2014 - 31.08.2017


CHF 3'000'000



Morocco gets accredited rescue team

Two rescue workers training inside a destroyed building with a search device.

01.03.2014 - 31.12.2016

Morocco has become the first country on the African continent to have a search and rescue team that meets international standards. Switzerland has been training specialists from the Moroccan civil protection services for several years. Morocco now has a rapid and effective disaster response system in place and will be able to reduce losses and limit the number of disaster victims resulting primarily from earthquakes.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Morocco
Climate change and environment
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Disaster risk reduction DRR
Material relief assistance

01.03.2014 - 31.12.2016


CHF 890'000



A community-based mental healthcare system

01.03.2014 - 28.02.2018

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, much of the population is still suffering the consequences of the war which ravaged the Balkans in the 1990s. Since 2010, Switzerland has been helping the country to modernise its mental healthcare system to give patients access to high quality services in their communities.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Health
Mental health & well-being
Primary health care
Health systems strengthening

01.03.2014 - 28.02.2018


CHF 5'665'000



UNFPA: United Nations Population Fund – Core Contribution

01.01.2014 - 31.12.2016

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the UN development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. It works to enhance the right to sexual and reproductive health and supports countries to enable them to utilise demographic data in the formulation of policies and programmes to combat poverty.

Topic Period Budget
Health
Health systems strengthening

01.01.2014 - 31.12.2016


CHF 48'000'000


Object 61 – 72 of 3082