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Global Land Forum kicks off at Dead Sea

24 ,May 2022

AMMAN — Deputising for His Majesty King Abdullah, Agriculture Minister Khalid Hneifat on Monday inaugurated the Global Land Forum at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre in the Dead Sea region.

The first day of the Global Land Forum (GLF) highlighted the importance of integrating land governance into sustainable development strategies, and securing land rights to build “pathways to climate solutions”.

The forum, the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, brought together more than 800 participants, speakers and experts representing 78 countries to discuss critical issues related to climate change, land rights, food systems and other topics, according to a GLF statement.

Co-hosted by the International Land Coalition (ILC) — the largest coalition working on land rights in the world, the Ministry of Agriculture, the EU and SEEDS-Jordan, the GLF is a triannual meeting dedicated to building a vision and roadmap for land governance based on local and national priorities.

In his address, Hneifat emphasised that Jordan is proud to be a model for moderation, despite protracted crises and conflicts. 

The country is also committed to its humanitarian role towards those within the region and throughout the world, and to working within a clear framework in dealing with climate change, he said.

Jordan is introducing water harvesting programmes, clean water supply, and optimisation techniques in water treatment plants to increase forest coverage, the minister said. 

Hneifat pointed to Jordan’s partnerships with other countries and international organisations to deal with pressing issues, including the refugee crisis and climate change. 

Hneifat also announced the launch of the Jordan National Land Governance Strategy. He also highlighted how the plan will support global efforts in achieving food security, reflecting His Majesty King Abdullah's early realisation of the global food crisis and the urgency to act towards creating solutions. 

In her keynote address, HRH Princess Basma, chairperson of the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development board of trustees and member of the advisory council of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, said that the human relation to earth has played a remarkable role in the development and progress of mankind over history.

Princess Basma said that the humanity of mankind is not only governed by the nature of relations among people, but also includes the relation with earth and the environment.

The princess noted that the required solutions for the existential threat to the Dead Sea, where the forum is held, are the same required solutions to address problems and challenges facing the entire planet, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

Princess Basma said that Jordan, despite its biological diversity, suffers from water shortage and limited arable lands, stressing that the issue of land reclamation has become a big challenge facing many countries around the world and this region in particular, where policies of achieving quick economic growth do not consider environmental solutions and the safety of ecosystems.

The princess concluded her speech by saying that the Arab region, despite the challenges it is facing, still has an opportunity to address plenty of environmental and political problems.

The forum aims at opening the door to global debate on issues of land, its government and sovereignty, environment, and climate issues, and launching the “Strategy for Stakeholder Engagement in Land Governance and Management in Jordan”, which has been prepared by the National Committee under the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture in Jordan and in partnership with all ministries, government institutions, and civil society organsations to develop the first land governance strategy in Jordan, according to a GLF statement. 

Ministers of agriculture from seven countries also took the opportunity to meet and consider the role of land governance in addressing the climate crisis and preparing for the COP27 conference, in a closed session jointly organised by the Ministry of Agriculture in Jordan and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

EU Ambassador to Jordan Maria Hadjitheodosiou stressed the importance of the themes that will be addressed by the forum as timely and relevant globally, including decentralisation that protects rural lands; addressing climate change challenges through the energy-water-food nexus; supporting youth in rural areas; and developing regional and national partnerships. 

“Jordan is working hard, through partnerships to overcome these challenges, converting them to investment opportunities and engaging equally all parts of society. It is also a country that throughout its history welcomed and hosted thousands of refugees, which places additional pressures on these limited resources,”  she said.

During an interview with The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the event, Hadjitheodosiou, said that the 2022 GLF is of particular importance, as it took place for the first time in the MENA region, which suffers from climate change, land degradation and water scarcity.

“With the majority of the Kingdom’s population being young, the focus is on them because they are the ones who will get GLF’s messages and transform them into local solutions and strategies,” she said.

In his opening remarks, ILC Director Mike Taylor noted that land rights are a pathway to addressing the existential threat to “life as we know it”, in addition to being central to overcoming inequality, building sustainable food systems and sustaining peace and democracy.

“We are in a climate emergency. While the whole world’s attention is on the crisis, securing the rights of those who live on and from the land is still not getting the necessary attention it deserves as a viable solution. Although we commend the positive recognition at the COP26 of the role played by indigenous peoples, world leaders have so far failed to adequately address land tenure as a whole, nor mention the role of the world’s smallholder farmers,” Taylor said.

The voice of youth was also present at the Global Earth Forum. For the first time, the Global Land Youth Forum brought together 100 young (18-35-year-olds) from Jordan and 32 countries, to discuss various issues over two days prior to the Global Land Forum 2022 to come up with a “Youth Declaration” that reflects their vision and demands. The Declaration was presented on the first day of the Global Forum.

For his part, Raed Gharib, co-chair of the National Organising Committee (SEEDS-Jordan), told The Jordan Times that the first day of the forum has a particular significance, as it is centred on national and regional land-related issues.

”Today the Youth GLF will wrap up and its 100 youth delegates will come and share their conclusions,” he said.

Additionally, the first day featured two roundtable discussions, the first of which was titled “Inclusive Land Policies for Climate Solutions”, covering topics ranging from the urban-rural nexus, rural communities’ inclusion in decision-making processes, and the challenges and opportunities of decentralised land use.

The second session titled “People-Centred Land Governance for Peace-Building and Sustainability in the Arab Region” discussed the accelerating crises in the region.

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