June 9, 2016
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, in collaboration with the Inter-Ministerial Task Force of the Government of Sierra Leone for the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, in the context of National Food Security (VGGT), has summoned tenure stakeholders to the 3rd annual VGGT Multi-Stakeholder Platform Workshop.
The workshop was held on 7th and 8th June, 2016 at the Family Kingdom Resort in Freetown with financial support from the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
It brought together participants from several strata, including professionals working on land tenure, fisheries and forestry in the public and private sector, civil society organisations, academia and regional organisations, especially those whose job responsibilities entail direct impact in using the VGGTs to introduce changes.
The workshop was part of a series of initiatives aimed at increasing tenure security in Sierra Leone through the use of the Voluntary Guidelines. It intends to review and reflect on the VGGT implementation process, identify lessons learnt, good practices, as well as emerging challenges, and to further discuss sustainable national ownership.
In her opening keynote address, Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment, who is also chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force, Diana Konomanyi noted that the VGGT implementation provides unique opportunity for the government to contribute to food security, poverty alleviation and aversion of natural resources related to potential conflicts, and at the same time protects human rights.
Madam Konomanyi stated that the workshop provided a unique platform to all stakeholders present, particularly women’s groups, to make meaningful contributions towards the implementation of the country’s National Land Policy.
She pledged the continued support of government in the VGGT implementation process through the G7 Tripartite Land Partnership Agreement signed by the Government of Sierra Leone, Federal Republic of Germany and FAO.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Ms. Marie Jalloh acknowledged the timely implementation of the guidelines, particularly at a time when the country is witnessing an increase in large scale investment in the agriculture sector.
“It is our responsibility to manage the situation with increased interest in safeguarding the rights and duties of landowners and land users,” she noted.
Other representatives of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force – the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Minister of Justice – underscored the relevance of VGGT in the planning and formulation of policies, and in promoting good governance and natural resource management.
The Acting FAO Representative, David Mwesigwa, expressed gratitude for the collaboration and support of the Government of Sierra Leone, which he said has shown great commitment and political will over the last years to move the VGGT implementation process forward and to work towards improved tenure governance in the country.
Mr. Mwesigwa told participants that the Voluntary Guidelines serve as reference to all stakeholders.
He stated that, “the Guidelines provide a framework that can be used when developing strategies, policies, legislation and programmes within countries.”
A broad range of activities during the two-day workshop will inform concrete recommendations to expand VGGT application in the country. Status updates on ongoing VGGT related activities will be provided, which will allow further discussion on the way forward towards improved governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in Sierra Leone.