The 2023 Conference of Land Policy makes resounding call to action for inclusive and sustainable Land governance to boost Intra-Africa Trade

Inclusive land governance is critical to achieving the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063. The 2023 Conference on Land Policy in Africa, which was held from 21-24 November in Addis Ababa, made a resounding call for African countries to develop inclusive Land reforms and land tenure rights, particularly for women and youth to promote Sustainable Land Governance in Africa for accelerated implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), is convened biennially by the tripartite consortium consisting of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). It serves as a platform for African Union member states to deliberate on critical land-related issues and formulate actionable recommendations.

The 2023 conference brought together 500 participants f comprised of a multiplicity of stakeholders drawn from African Union Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), International Organisation, Civil Society Organisation, Academia and representatives of the Forum for African Traditional Leaders (FATA) among others. The conference featured scientific paper presentations, Master Classes, policy dialogues, and side events. The theme of this year’s conference is ” Promoting Sustainable Land Governance in Africa for Accelerated Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area”, which is in line with the African Union Declaration of 2023 theme of the year, aimed at generating greater political commitment to accelerate the effective implementation of the AfCFTA to fully benefit the African citizenry and achieve the aspirations and goals of Agenda 2063.

H.E. Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson (DCP) of the African Union Commission graced the occasion by addressing the conference. She commended the diverse participation of multiple stakeholder groups comprising of Ministers, Traditional Chiefs, experts and researchers and others that generated great deliberations and exchanges during this conference underscoring the critical intersection between land governance and the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). “It is imperative to reaffirm our collective commitment to harnessing the potential of sustainable land governance as a catalyst for economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. The success of the AfCFTA hinges on our ability to ensure that land rights are secure, land use is efficient, and land-related conflicts are minimized”. Stated the AUC Deputy Chairperson. She added that the “African Union stands ready to support member states in advancing the land-related objectives outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063, the AfCFTA, the AU Land Governance Strategy, and the African Union Land Policy Framework and Guidelines (F&G), with the view to foster an environment where land is a driver of prosperity and unity”.

H.E. Ambassador Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment, in her speech pointed out that one significant area of progress pertains to the advancement of women’s land rights, in alignment with the African Union’s agenda on land. The commitment to securing women’s land rights has gained significant attention and has translated into concrete actions across various Member States. “In tandem with our progress on women’s land rights, we continue to address the dynamics of large-scale land-based investments in Africa amidst the pressing global challenge of climate change, our recent endeavours have been directed towards integrating climate-resilient land management practices into our policy frameworks as well as the paramount role  sustainable land governance plays in  accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a transformative opportunity for intra-African trade, industrialization, and economic growth, and coherent land governance is fundamental to realizing its full potential” underlined Commissioner Josepha Sacko.

Hon. Judith Nabakooba, Minister of Lands, Housing & Urban Development, Uganda  said that there is a need for Africa to have good land governance policies that strengthen women’s rights to land to achieve fair and sustainable outcomes for all. “Uganda understands the relationship between land, trade and the wellbeing of the people. Effective land governance and management is the cornerstone of sustainable social justice,” She said policies formulated should be visional and must integrate climate change issues and reform land justice systems. The Land on Africa(??) continues to have major historical significance for the people. It lies at the centre of their agriculture activities, Trade, natural resources and other land-based activities that are fundamental to their livelihoods as well as ensuring food security and social- economic development and intra-Africa trade through the AfCFTA.

On behalf of Mr. Claver Gatete, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Mr. Robert Lisinge stated that the AfCFTA holds the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty. “He said, sound land governance systems and harmonisation of land related policies are essential to facilitating youth, women, communities, and the private sector to engage and benefit from AfCFTA and digitalization.

The representative of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Ms. Leontine Kanziemo, Advisor, Natural Resources Management, at the AfDB, who represented Dr. Vanessa Ushie, Acting Director, Africa Natural Resources Management and Investment Centre, underscored that land governance should be an enabler of accelerating the implementation of the AfCTA through contributing to the production, unlocking agricultural potential, promoting gender equality, supporting the development of resilient infrastructure, as well as balanced territorial development. 

H.E Hans Lundquist, the Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia and Djibouti, and Permanent Representative to AU, IGAD and UNECA stated that “Land is a fundamental resource that provides a foundation for the well-being of our societies, our livelihoods, and our economy”. It is the resource upon which we build our homes, grow our food, or conduct our businesses. Inclusive land governance is critical in achieving the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals relating to poverty.

The conference concluded with a call to action that highlighted key recommendations that ably demonstrate the important outcomes of the conference and its role as a convening policy, advocacy and lesson-sharing platform used to shape and improve the implementation of the African Union Declaration on Land, in line with implementation of the AfCFTA as successful continent-wide market for goods and services, business and investment, that presents a major opportunity for African countries to boost growth, reduce poverty, and broaden economic inclusion and prosperity.

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