Robin Palmer attended the 5th meeting of the UK Land Policy Forum

  • 8 November 2017

Robin Palmer represented Mokoro at the DFID-funded Land Policy Forum, held at IIED on 2 November 2017.

Robin Palmer writes “It was a very good meeting. A certain dynamic has now evolved with a number of the same people coming to many of the meetings, e.g. from ODI, IDS, IIED, Global Justice Now, Human Rights Watch, KPMG, UK Land Registry.

The theme of this 5th meeting was legal empowerment and agribusiness investments. When introducing myself and Mokoro I said that this was an incredibly important theme in A Grim World for Land and Environmental Defenders. Two of the four speakers I knew to be outstanding people in this field – Lorenzo Cotula of IIED (who has been working on legal tools since 2006) and Rachel Knight of Namati. The others were Tom Lomas of Forest Peoples Programme and (by video link) Kaitlin Cordes of CCSL (Columbia Center on Sustainable Development).

The 4 speakers didn’t make presentations but responded to these pre-set questions:

what legal empowerment method are you using?; lessons and insights?; what are the gaps?

Lorenzo stressed that there was no ‘IIED approach’ – you needed different approaches in different contexts. Rachel and Tom noted that you needed to work at different levels. Rachel said that communities were often unaware of the real commercial value of their land. A long-term political economy approach was required, not a 3-year project cycle. You had to engage with the powerful and apply both top-down and bottom up-pressures, create allies and build a movement.

There was strong agreement on the need for more joined up work – and I was delighted to hear that Lorenzo and Rachel had already agreed to do precisely that.”