FAO officials ,MPs and some government officials attending the VGGT workshop
|Story by Mutafela Sitali
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) is currently conducting a three-day workshop on Capacity Development of Namibian Parliamentarians on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT).
The workshop that started yesterday aims to look at voluntary guidelines which seek to improve governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests. According to FAO’s country representative to Namibia, Farayi Zimudzi, VGGTs are an international instrument that can be used by many different actors to improve the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests. Zimudzi stressed that VGGTs serve as a reference and set out principles and internationally accepted standards for the practices of responsible governance of tenure.
Zimudzi mentioned some of the areas that VGGTs can contribute to and guide Member States such as Namibia, some of these being laws, policies and strategies, securing full rights to land for small scale farmers and defending and regaining the territories of indigenous peoples and last but not least securing access to and control over fishing zones (including coastal land) and ecosystems for fishing communities.
“While the guidelines place primary responsibility of their application on governments, relevant stakeholders can also use this international instrument to assert the tenure rights of their constituents such as communities, indigenous groups, or other marginalized populations,” said Zimudzi who also noted that the VGGTs are voluntary and therefore not legally binding and they do not replace existing national laws or international laws, commitments, treaties or agreements.
Zimudzi emphasised that VGGTs encompass the principles of human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
VGGTs are the first global agreement on governance of tenure reached by consensus in May 2012 by the World Committee on Food Security (CFS) after its development through an inclusive process of regional consultations held from 2009-2010 in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Jordan, Namibia, Panama, Romania, the Russian Federation, Samoa and Vietnam.
In her opening remarks, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Loide Kasingo alluded that the VGGTs or Guidelines provide a framework that Namibia can use when developing own strategies, policies, legislation, programmes and activities pertaining to land tenure governance.
“The Guidelines promote responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests, with respect to all forms of tenure: public, private, communal, indigenous, customary and informal,” noted Hon. Kasingo while also stressing that, the Guidelines are also intended to contribute to achieving sustainable livelihoods, social stability, housing security, rural development, environmental protection, and sustainable social and economic development. Hon. Kasingo pointed out that the guidelines allow governments, civil society, the private sector and citizens to judge whether any proposed actions and the actions of others constitute acceptable practices pertaining to land tenure governance.
FAO is supporting the Government of the Republic of Namibia to address areas within the Country Programming Framework such as Strengthened policy, legal, strategic and institutional frameworks for agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food security and nutrition. In addition FAO is supporting agricultural production, productivity, food safety and strengthened nutrition sensitive value chains and strengthened capacity for natural resource management and land governance while also strengthening capacity for disaster risk reduction, resilience building and climate change adaptation and mitigation.