Progress towards sustainable development depends on how we respond to a simple, but crucial, question: Where do people live and produce food? In a global context where almost 80 per cent of the extreme poor (3.3 billion people*) live in rural areas, addressing the land issue will be a fundamental factor of success for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) until the 2030 deadline. As the single largest employer in the world, the agricultural sector is at the forefront of the development transformation in many parts of the Global South.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has given the land issue unprecedented importance in global development planning. Ensuring ownership and control over land is a fundamental component of the first SDG: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. The SDG#2 places the objective of doubling the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers as a key step towards ending hunger and achieving food security. The fifth SDG on gender equality sets, for instance, the goal of promoting reforms that give women access to ownership and control over land. The SDG#15 is the one, though, that gives the land issue full centrality, by establishing the target of halting and reversing land degradation, with the view of achieving, by 2030, a land degradation-neutral world.
Land is now at the centre of global development concerns, opening up new possibilities of collaboration and innovative partnerships to deliver action already in 2016, the first year of the new 2030 Agenda. In this context, the UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development, the legacy of Rio+ 20 Conference to Brazil and the world, is working with the Brazilian Ministry of Agrarian Development (MDA) and the German Institute for the Advancement of Sustainability Sciences (IASS) in the organization of the most important event on land and sustainable development in the Global South in the post-2015 scenario. Being held in Brasilia in August 2016, the Symposium “Land in the 21st Century: for people and planet” will propose practical recommendations to the UN Member States on planning and implementing policies and programmes on land governance, smallholder farming, and citizenship and quality of life in rural areas. The Symposium will gather over 400 participants in Brazil’s national capital to agree on concrete recommendations based on the most recent findings from policy research and lessons from innovative public policies that are delivering outstanding results.
The underlying issue of the Brasilia Symposium will be the sustainable use of land, which will be dealt with in a multidimensional approach, looking at policy implications in the economic, environmental, social and cultural perspectives. In Portuguese the word ‘land’ means both ‘soil’ and ‘Earth’, offering a powerful connotation to think about the powerful connections between land, the planet, and sustainable development. The Symposium will take place under auspices of the Presidency of the Federative Republic of Brazil, which will extend invitations to Heads of State and global opinion makers.
On 3-4 March 2016, representatives of the organizing institutions convened at the RIO+ Centre in Rio de Janeiro for the first technical meeting on the methodological aspects of the event. The organization committee of “Land in the 21st Century”, which is composed of RIO+ Centre, Brazil’s MDA and Germany’s IASS, is open for suggestions and inputs from policy makers, researchers and the civil society organizations working on sustainable uses of land. The success of this major Global South event will depend on the engagement of everyone dedicated to the issue of land in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Questions and recommendations for the organization committee of the “Land in the 21st Century” Symposium can be directed to Mr. Marcio Pontual at email@example.com or at + 55 21 3621 3709.