The official debates at the 2nd International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Social Development, sponsored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), began Wednesday, March 8 in Porto Alegre, the capital of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Delegations from more than 80 nations are attending the event, which is divided into five thematic pillars. The themes chosen to orient the debates are based on analytical texts prepared by experts.
The five themes are: 1 – Policies and methods to guarantee and improve access to land and promote agrarian reform; 2 – Construction of local capacities to improve access to land, water, agricultural inputs, and agricultural services and to promote rural development and the sustainable management of natural resources; 3 – New opportunities to strengthen communities and rural producers; 4 – Agrarian reform, social justice, and sustainable development; 5 – Food sovereignty and access to resources.
Thematic pillar 5 was the result of a suggestion formulated in its entirety by international civil society.
"Policies and methods to guarantee and improve access to land," the analytic text prepared by Julian Quan for the first pillar, is directed at different ways to establish rights to land and a more equitable distribution of land.
"The document adopts a broad definition of access to land as the process by which people, individually or collectively, gain the opportunity to occupy and make use of the land (mainly for productive ends, but for other economic and social purposes as well), temporarily or permanently."
"These processes include participation in the formal and informal market, access to land through family relationships and social networks, including the transfer of land rights by inheritance and within families, and the distribution of land by States and other authorities that exercise control over the land," the text explains.
"States and Civil Society, Access to Land and Rural Development: Training for New Forms of Government," the analytical text prepared by Samuel Trhirion for the second pillar, deals with the struggle to reduce global poverty in an effective manner.
"The economic, social, and ecological crisis threatens the peace and survival of humanity. The search for solutions to this crisis constitutes the central challenge for the coming years," the text affirms.
"Nowadays, neither states nor international organizations are able to implement policies capable of checking the dynamic of a massive reduction in access to land and natural resources."