As the recent flurry of foreign land acquisitions into Africa demonstrate, global concern for the increasing scarcity of productive land is on the rise, with countries moving decisively to safeguard their long-term food supplies. Of course, for many communities within Africa itself, maintaining healthy and sustainable lands to produce enough food to support viable livelihoods, has long been the concern not of some distant future, but of the here and now.
At the forefront of Africa's efforts to eliminate hunger and alleviate poverty, as underlined at the recent Millennium Development Goals summit in New York, is the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the continent's primary channel for investments into agriculture growth. Sustainable land and water management, as well as market access and trade form two of CAADP's four major pillars of action in rising to this lofty challenge. Increased investments are seen as central, not only in maintaining the integrity of ecosystems, but more crucially, in addressing the most urgent development needs of the continent; food security and sovereignty, economic growth and climate resilience foremost amongst them.
Creating an environment that promotes investment into land is the major challenge. More robust evidence is needed that elicits land's intrinsic value, matched with dialogue and interaction between key institutions at national and international levels.
As part of these efforts, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Global Mechanism (GM) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in support of CAADP, promising a harmonised response to promoting finance for sustainable land management (SLM).
The MoU commits the institutions to supporting the improvement of enabling conditions for resource mobilisation in core areas of cooperation. One such area is the integration of SLM into national development and budgetary frameworks, a crucial measure in ensuring that land productivity becomes a national priority area. This will significantly boost the potential for increased financial allocations from domestic budgets, as well as the international community who are aligning to priorities as set by countries themselves, under CAADP.
Assessing the gaps that exist in financing SLM and measuring the economic value of land is another prerogative of the partnership, and will be based on cutting-edge tools and methodologies the GM has already successful employed.
In addition, the two institutions will seek to broaden the scope of investments into SLM, by building financing alliances and platforms that involve key institutions such as multilateral development banks, specialised institutions such as the Global Environment Facility, the private sector and agri-business, as well as farmer associations.
For more information:
Dr Christian Mersmann, Managing Director
Tel. +39 06 5459 2155
c.mersmann (at) global-mechanism.org