Celebrating land rights breakthroughs in 2020; Seed the Change on March 18; Land and corporate supply chains; Meet Cedar Louis.
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8 Breakthroughs for Land Rights in 2020

Planting mangrove seedlings in Myanmar

2020 was a tough year on many fronts, and land rights were no exception. COVID-19 hindered land rights advocates from doing field research, meeting with government officials, prioritizing policy initiatives, and obtaining funding.

Despite these headwinds, we have seen important advances, and the field continues to grow. Here are eight breakthroughs in 2020 to celebrate:

1. New laws and policies

In Botswana, a revision to the national Land Policy expanded land ownership rights to all married women. Amendments to China’s land laws, which took effect Jan. 1, 2020, included stronger protections for rural households, affecting hundreds of millions of rural families. A judgment by India’s Supreme Court confirmed that daughters shall enjoy equal inheritance rights alongside sons, providing important clarification to the country’s landmark Hindu Succession Act. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after a decade of struggle, the country’s National Assembly voted almost unanimously to recognize and safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples.

2. Filling the data gap on land rights

The Sustainable Development Goals offered a roadmap for connecting land to the global agenda, with explicit links to poverty alleviation, food security, women’s empowerment, clean water, and the environment, and implicit links to almost all of the other 17 goals. Unfortunately, reporting on land rights has not kept pace with the development goals, and the field still lacks for solid data. This year marked a milestone in efforts to fill that gap with the release of a study based on research in 140 countries.

3. Securing land rights to mitigate climate change

In 2020, Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) released a report of independent, high level experts aimed at directing funds towards those countries and communities that are best positioned to make significant gains in securing territories, protecting forests. The report assesses 29 countries, prioritizing those that are members of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and participants in the Carbon Fund.


Seed the Change on March 18

Save the Date - Landesa's Seed the Change on March 18, 2021 5:30pm-6:30pm PST

Seed the Change, Landesa’s annual gala, will be held virtually on March 18, 2021! Join Landesa supporters from all over the world for a celebration of the progress made towards securing land rights for all people. This year’s program includes:

  • performances from global artists
  • an enlightening discussion on women’s land rights with members of Landesa’s global team
  • presentation of the Roy L. Prosterman Award to former Landesa Board Chair and community leader, James C. Pigott
Tickets will be available for purchase in February 2021. If you have any questions about the event and how you can be involved, contact us at events@landesa.org.


Land Risks and Opportunities in Corporate Supply Chains

By Scott Schang, Senior Director of Corporate Engagement at Landesa

Tractor preparing rice paddies, east of Mandalay
Photographer: Susan Fan / PhotoPhilanthropy

Land-related risks are vastly underappreciated by corporate and environmental attorneys representing clients around the globe. 

These risks were made apparent recently when the CEO and other top leaders of Rio Tinto, the global mining company, were sacked by Rio Tinto’s board of directors for failing to give credence to Aboriginal land claims to the ancient Juukan cave complex in Western Australia before destroying the caves. No one argues that the company’s actions were illegal: they appear to have been in keeping with Australian law. But they were tone deaf to the developing global norms around land rights, which require compliance with best international practices, not just national law.

Scott Schang writes about the key facts, issues, and tools available to help companies identify and assess land risks in their supply chains. Continue reading →

Landesa in the news

Thomson Reuters Foundation logo

OPINION: Why governments should strengthen land rights for women and youth
Landesa’s Tizai Mauto and women’s land rights & gender expert Grace Ananda explore a few of the most pernicious inequalities to surface from the COVID-19 pandemic, and a common challenge they share: insecure rights to land.

IIED logo

What happens when the landgrabbers leave? An account from Kilwa, Tanzania
Landesa’s Masalu Luhula and IIED’s Brendan Schwartz share an encouraging story from Tanzania about how four communities regained control of their lands.

China Daily logo

LUI Prize laureates lend a hand to boost global food security
China Daily highlights several LUI Che Woo Prize laureates for their contributions to global food security, including Landesa’s law and policy work to strengthen rights to land – the foundation of agriculture and rural life.

World Economic Forum logo

Trust is the glue of a healthy society. Here's how to bring it back
Landesa co-founder Tim Hanstad highlighted Landesa for its work with governments to build the necessary systems and structures for a fair, vibrant, and inclusive marketplace.

Wilson Center logo

Gender Equality and Food Security in Rural South Asia: A Holistic Approach to the SDGs
Landesa research on women’s land rights was quoted in a blog post for New Security Beat, the blog of the Wilson Center.

Chandler Foundation logo

Landesa: The Role of Land Rights in Africa
Landesa’s Tanzania program director Monica Mhoja comprehensively explains the foundational role of land rights in Africa in Chandler Foundation’s Social Investor magazine.

CGTN logo

Full Episode : China makes progress in protecting women's rights
Landesa's Karol Boudreaux was interviewed by CGTN's Closer To China in a half-hour segment about challenges and progress in women's land rights in rural China.


Staff Spotlight: Cedar Louis

Cedar (second from right) with three leaders whom she interviewed in Liberia.Elizabeth “Cedar” Louis is a Senior Research, Evaluation and Learning Specialist based in Seattle, Washington. Cedar joined Landesa in 2015.

What is your favorite part of working for Landesa?
There are too many to name: the work culture of collaboration that allows me to work closely with my brilliant, dedicated, fun colleagues; the flexibility that Landesa gives me to balance my work and family commitments; and opportunities to spend time talking with the people whose lives we work to improve.



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