Keeping Land Local: Reclaiming Governance from the Market

Keeping Land Local: Land Struggles III: LRAN Briefing Paper Series

October 24, 2014

The governance of land, forests, water bodies and associated “natural resources” has always been a deeply contested terrain, and one that has frequently resulted in conflicts among different actors who claim authority, legitimacy and/or expertise in making governance decisions.

While local communities demand respect and protection of their rights to lands, resources and livelihoods, most official governance systems do not recognize the traditional, customary and collective rights of local users and their institutions to manage and protect lands and territories. Instead, transnational corporations, multilateral bodies, international financial institutions and many governments are increasingly promoting and putting into place market-led governance mechanisms for land, forest and water use and management, and environmental protection that prioritize short-term financial gains for a few over long term, multi-generational and multi-dimensional benefits for the majority. These governance mechanisms deny local peoples and communities access to crucial life-sustaining resources, advance the commodification of nature, and entrench an ecologically unsustainable, high carbon, economic growth-driven model of production and consumption.

This collection of articles explores some of the challenges facing peasants, farmers, forest dwellers, fisher-folk, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and other local communities in their efforts to build systems for the governance of land, water, forests and territories that are just, participatory, ecologically sound and foster genuinely sustainable forms of living. The complete publication is available in pdf format at:

“Keeping Land Local” is the third in the “Land Struggles” series from Focus on the Global South, the Global Campaign on Agrarian Reform, and Land Research Action Network (LRAN).LRAN brings together activist researchers and peoples’ movements working on land and natural resource issues. It is coordinated by Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano, Focus on the Global South, and Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos.

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