3 Ways to Secure Property Rights for the Rural Poor
August 15, 2013
In July, the World Justice Forum IV (organized by the World Justice Project) brought together more than 550 business and nonprofit leaders, legal experts, development practitioners, journalists, military leaders, social entrepreneurs, and other global luminaries from more than 100 countries to address critical rule of law issues around the world. In partnership with the Skoll World Forum and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the World Justice Project asked a number of speakers to reflect on a wide range of issues including land rights, access to water, criminal justice, and much more.
The World Justice Forum has just completed its fourth convocation at Holland’s capital, The Hague, looking at practical ways to advance the rule of law around our planet.
One principle of the rule of law that received prominent attention was secure property rights. These are especially important in light of the fact that roughly three-quarters of the world’s poorest people live in the countryside, and generally lack secure rights to the land which, for most of them, is their chief source of livelihood. The growing number of large scale investments in agriculture in the developing world (aka “land grabs”) is also helping to highlight the fundamental importance of land rights.
From our own (Landesa’s) cumulative experience in the field over more than four decades, we know there are some very simple approaches that can offer much greater security for the property rights of the rural poor (often helping to move them out of poverty, as security of rights allows them to make sweat-equity and cash investments in their land).
A final example of a very simple rule-of-law improvement to increase food production and improve global food security would be to end government production subsidies or legal requirements that lead to the use of cropland for biofuel production. Not, at least, until “Food Justice” (zero hungry people) has been achieved on our planet.