The eradication of hunger and poverty and the sustainable use of the environment depend in large measure on how people, communities and others gain access to land, fisheries and forests.
To ensure that Liberian citizens, especially rural inhabitants, benefit from a responsible governance of land, fisheries and forests, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), together with local and international partners, yesterday concluded a two-day workshop in Monrovia aimed at educating stakeholders on the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT).
The VGGT is an unprecedented international agreement on the responsible governance of tenure aimed at helping governments safeguard the rights of people to own or access land, fisheries and forests.
The Natural Resource Manager of FAO, Christian Schulze, who spoke on behalf of FAO Country Representative Marc Abdala, thanked Liberian stakeholders for their leadership in creating public awareness of the activities of the VGGT. He said the VGGT provides the framework that will help Liberia to develop policy regulations and policies on the responsible governance of land.
The principles of the VGGT are very relevant to the Liberian setting in improving the lives of the citizens through access to land, said Schulze. “This framework will contribute to the improvement and development on tenure rights, promoting transparency, improve the functioning of tenure systems as well as strengthen the capacity of implementing agencies, judicial authorities and local governments.”
The chairman of the Liberia Land Authority, Cecil T.Q. Brandy, called on land stakeholders to mount pressure on lawmakers to pass the Land Rights Act. “It is important that the Land Rights Act becomes enacted into law because it greatly affects productivity in the agriculture sector,” he said.
The Land Rights Act has been before the National Legislature for the past four years, but is yet to be passed by the House of Senate. This, Dr. Brandy said, is tantamount to land tenure and security, especially for the rural poor.
He said that the Land Authority is pleased to work with the FAO and other partners in ensuring that principles or guidelines of the VGGT become mainstreamed into Liberia’s land law. “We at the Land Authority attach a lot of importance to the VGGT as it is very critical to our country’s natural resources. It is an essential core element of our land rights policy because it addresses the issues of equal productive access to land for all citizens,” he added.
For his part, the Deputy Minister for Planning and Development at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Charles McClain, stated that government must create the enabling environment to sustain food security by mainstreaming the principles of the VGGT for responsible governance of land. “About 70 percent of our citizens live in rural areas where land, water and forest are the primary source to support their livelihood and enhance food security. Our responsibility as a government is to create the enabling environment for agriculture investment that will ensure sustained production. Therefore, we must revisit our agricultural policies in line with international guidelines for responsible land governance,” said Dr. McClain.