Good Enough Tenure

Good Enough Tenure

the Netherlands - 16 July, 2018

We need to think beyond formal land regularization to provide enabling conditions for smallholders to secure property rights and incentives for investment.

This was a main message that emanated from a panel session on ‘Good Enough Tenure’ that took place in June at the 2018 LANDAC Conference in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The lack of formally recognized land and resource property has always been a constraint for small-scale farmers and forest communities. Mainstream land governance focusses largely on tenure regularization as a means to provide security. Smallholders without such formal tenure tend to be excluded from external funding streams, because banks, other private investors, governmental agencies and even some donors often require land titles as collateral to mitigate the risk of default from failed investment. As a result, these actors have not been able to deal effectively with the mobility and the complex local reality, including the local needs and opportunities that exist in rural and forest areas in tropical countries.

The four panelists of this session – Marieke van der Zon, Peter Cronkleton, Bastian Reydon and Benno Pokorny - provided hands-on examples from Latin America, that evidence that there is a variety of formal, informal and semi-formal tenure situations and arrangements in these areas. And that in many cases those informal, traditional and semi-formal property rights are 'good enough' for social and economic development and for conservation, as they are respected, upheld and protected by strong local institutions. These ‘good enough tenure’ right arrangements should be fully acknowledged as a valuable “local institutional capital” for making trustful and secure arrangements between local smallholders and external actors to engage, to invest and collaborate on a reciprocal basis. It must therefore play a much more prominent starting point in promoting sustainable, inclusive and equitable development. The panelists emphasized the need to understand the local specificity of arrangements advocating a “fit-for-purpose and place” approach.

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The session was organized by Tropenbos International in collaboration with the Universities of Wageningen, Freiburg, Campinas and Kyoto, Kadaster Internationaal, CIFOR and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

Photo: Paramo of Sumapaz, Colombia. Augusto Riveros