GLF 2018: From Rome toward Bandung, Ensuring the People’s Land Rights.

Benni Wijaya

On November 1999, at least one thousand of representatives from various factions such as CSOs, government and multilateral institution gathered in Brussels, Belgium to discuss two vital issues, which are hunger & poverty that has reached alarming rate.

The conference attendants recognized the importance of fair access to lands for rural development. Therefore, this conference needs to establish a new alliance between the people and inter-governments institution called The Popular Coalition to Eradicate Hunger & Poverty

This conference urged to immediately empower the underprivileged rural society by increasing their access to toward productive sources, especially land, water and other natural resources. One of the efforts is to strengthen their participation within the decision making processes in local, national, regional or international.

8 years after that, especially in the year 2003, this coalition transform its name to International Land Coalition (ILC). The name changing itself is a sign of commitment from all conference in strategic agenda, which are land rights.

The city of Rome, Italy is the witness of that historic moment. It was in that same city and year, that GLF were first held.

Since then, coalition member of ILC kept expanding to become a coalition that consisted of 206 organizations whom represented 26 countries. Working together to promote access that are safe and equal toward lands for rural society, especially through capacity building, sharing knowledge and advocacy.

In the last decade, ILC has advanced its mission by promoting secure access on lands toward lands for peasants and rural society.


ILC along with its members possesses a vision to fight for secure & equal access, ownership on lands to decrease poverty and contributing toward identity, dignity and participation of all parties in determining policies.

So far, GLF has been organized for 7 times, hosted by Rome, Italy (2003); Santa Cruz, Bolivia (2005), Entebbe, Uganda (2007), Kathmandu, Nepal (2009), Tirana, Albania (2011), Antigua, Guatemala (2013), Dakar, Senegal (2015) and the 8th forum, which will be held in Bandung, Indonesia this September 2018. Those meetings were held to discuss various land issues by providing commitments to struggle for global land rights.

Rome (2003): The Starting Point of the Struggle for Land Rights.

The first GLF held in one of the historical city of Europe is the beginning of coalition development formed 8 years before in Brussels, Belgium. That moment was marked by the changing of the coalition’s name from The Popular Coalition to Eradicate Hunger and Poverty to International Land Coalition (ILC).

That forum attended by 40 participants committed to gather and expand support to land right works in global to rural level.

Santa Cruz (2005): Land is Life.

In 2005, Bolivia, one of the countries in South America gain the honor to organize the 2nd Global Land Forum. The choosing of this country led by Evo Morales was also because of the support from civil society organization toward the government of Bolivia whom at the time possesses an agrarian reform agenda.

 “Land is Life” is theme chosen for this forum. That theme reflected the ideas that lands are not just a productive area to farm or investing targets. But more than that, land is the source of life and pride for mankind.

Conflict faced by Bolivia and other countries this time that will not end unless we solve the structural problems from social inequality.” said Carlos Mesa, President of Bolivia in his opening speech.

Forum attended by 80 participants from 30 countries provided a declaration entitles “Declarations for Collective Action”. The platform for the coalition’s policies and advocacy works until the next forum in 2007. 

Entebbe (2007): Land, Dignity and Development

This first forum attended in African continent coincided with the Ugandan government’s program that developed policy on national land rights to create a framework that are inclusive also pro-peasants & indigenous people, especially those living under poverty line.

This forum, organized by ILC with Uganda Land Alliance (ULA) was attended by 120 participants of 30 countries and succeeded in establishing joint dynamic vision through declaration led by all members to be adopted in 2007-2011 strategic frameworks.

The main reference point of that declaration is to oppose land grabbing. This declaration was proclaimed by East Africa Peasants Federation, an organization that shades 20 million peasants in East Africa region.

Kathmandu (2009): Securing Rights to Land for Peace and Security

Three years after Entebbe Declaration that was held in Uganda. This time all members of ILC gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal. This fourth Forum, organized in one of the countries on the roof of the world brought the theme of “Securing Rights to Land for Peace and Security”.

This forum was held post-Nepal conflict, which is the civil war between The Kingdom of Nepal factions against The Communist factions whom demanded the replacing of Absolute Monarchy government system to Republic. This civil war went for 10 years, from 1996 to 2006.

Responding the situation above, the members of the forum were challenge to rethink the old understanding and mapping the new path as a solution to the fairer and more secure land rights.

The forum that was attended by 177 participants from 37 countries is directly supported by Government of Nepal cooperating with one of the Civil Society Organization there. Through the Kathmandu Declaration, the participants agreed and stated that security of land access to achieve peaceful solution is crucial, especially in underprivileged villages and conflicts areas.

Tirana (2011): Land Access Security for the Underprivileged.

Albania was chosen to be the first Balkan State that organized Global Land Forum. Held in Tirana, the forum taking place in Southeast Europe was attended by 150 participants from 45 countries.

This forum was organized by The National Federation of Communal Forests and Pastures of Albania. Through this forum, members of ILC issued The Tirana Declaration to condemn land grabbing and actively support collective land ownership and sustainable environmental preservation by the rural poor.

That forum also gave birth to 2011-2015 frameworks encouraged to strengthen the cooperation of all members & empower the people-centered land governance agenda, a policy where humanity became the center of land management policies.




Antigua (2013): Inclusive & Sustainable Territorial Governance for Food Security.

“Land rights are fundamental to addressing the common challenges of humanity, including overcoming poverty and hunger, recognizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples, mitigating and adapting to climate change, reversing decertification and land degradation, sustainable development and peace-building.”

The quote above is one of the few lines within the declaration provided by the forum organized in this Caribbean country. The outline of this declaration are that land rights is very significant in resolving humanity main challenges, including resolving poverty, famine, recognizing indigenous people’s rights, preventing climate change with suppressing the increase of land degradation for sustainable development and establishing peace.

Guatemala is also one of the first forums where constructive dialogues between government representatives & peasant organization from the organizing country occurred.

With participants numbering to 300 people from 50 countries, this forum gave birth to The Antigua Declaration which emphasizes upon various land dimension and supported development model also local food & resources management.

Dakar (2015): Development, Justice and Sustainability.

From The Caribbean, coalition members gathered in the African continent. This time Dakar, the capital city of Senegal was trusted to be the host of this 7th GLF. This year also marked the 20 years of ILC journey in the effort to encourage and campaign global land rights issues.

For those 2 decades, coalition members has worked together side by side and made several significant progress to ensure the rights & pride of those living in and from lands are protected.

“Land Governance for Inclusive Development, Justice and Sustainability: Time for Action” were agreed to be the theme of this meeting that were supported by the Government of Senegal, Land Policy Initiative (LPI) and civil society organizations in Senegal.

Not only to strive in creating a for the participants to study from and contributed toward the success and land governance challenge in West Africa & global scale, but this forum also functions as the platform to launch new initiative.

Dakar became one of the historic momentums where ILC presented the ILC Awards. A global recognition toward members of organizations whom are considered possesses commitment and consistence in fighting for land rights.

At the end of the event, 691 participants from 85 countries presented the Dakar Declaration as 2016-2021 work agenda. Creating the inclusive, fair and sustainable world is the main agenda of this forum. Seeking for the strong commitment to promote, protect and supervise land & resources rights in post 2015 development agenda according to the objective of creating the world without famine, poverty and insecurity guided by the basic principle of collectivity.

Bandung (2018): United for Land Rights, Peace & Justice

In September of this year, coalition members will gather to compile and agree on coalition frameworks. Bandung, Indonesia will be the host of the 8th GLF, Indonesia was chosen not without reason. Several positive results have been achieved by Indonesian civil society organizations in the frame of the struggle for land rights.

Especially since 2014, President Joko Widodo displayed various vital commitments to develop villages, agriculture by expanding ownership access and citizens’ management on lands and forests. Those commitments were implemented in National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMN) in which the government is targeting the redistribution of 9 million hectares lands through agrarian reform agenda.

Other than that plan, the government also formed the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning/National Land Agency-RI, Ministry of Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Regions & Transmigration also combining the Ministry of Environment & Ministry of Forestry into 1 ministry body.

Other than the realization effort from agrarian reform plan above, the long journey of Indonesia in struggling for agrarian reform implementation since the beginning of independence until confirmed through Basic Agrarian Law (Undang-undang Pokok Agraria Tahun 1960) has surely given an important lesson to all the children of the nation.

Bandung wasn’t only a host organizer city. The choosing of this city was due to the historical value possesses by this “City of Flowers”. It is the first venue of Asian-African Conference (KAA). The conference that brought on the Asian-African countries spirit of struggle for their independence from the foreign colonialism at that time. The spirit of that conference was signified by the establishing of Non-Aligned Movement (Gerakan Non-Blok/GNB)  

By returning to Bandung, GLF 2018 wanted to regain the spirit of that conference. Through this forum, ILC wanted to pour the principle of people-centered land governance in the situation and context of current global land issues as an answer to the agrarian inequality occurred everywhere.  

This forum is definitely the hope of all parties, from the Village to the Global level, from peasants to world leaders. United in one forum, sharing knowledge in order to give birth to an understanding as guidelines to land rights in various part of the world. (BW)

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