Land governance

Land systems are increasingly affected by changes in global governance and wider revalorizations of land, and in turn influence the wider transformations in governance and value (see Figure 4). For example, global demand for food and biofuels drives one of the most visible revalorizations of land over the past decade, giving rise to large-scale land acquisitions by states, transnational corporations and financial investors (Anseeuw et al., 2012; White et al., 2012). The land acquisitions have been enabled by larger governance changes at the international, national and local levels, such as the ascendance of the World Trade Organization, national policies on food, agriculture and trade, and the rolling out of commercial land markets (Peluso and Lund, 2011; McMichael, 2012; Margulis et al., 2013). Simultaneously, indigenous peoples have mobilized in the pursuit of political and cultural goals, highlighting the value of land as a place of belonging, territory for self-determination and religious practice (Sikor and Stahl, 2011). At the same time, changes in land systems drive global revalorizations of land and wider transformations of governance, as illustrated by the inclusion of forests in global climate mitigation efforts due to concerns over land-related carbon emissions. Thousands of small-scale reforestation projects in the so-called voluntary sector and the United Nations initiative of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) have caused increasing attention to carbon storage and changes in climate governance (Bumpus and Liverman, 2008; Corbera and Schroeder, 2011). 

In reaction to shifts in governance, value and land systems, land governance is shifting from ‘territorial’ toward ‘flow-centered’ arrangements (Sikor et al., 2013). Flow-centered governance targets particular flows of resources or goods, such as certification of agricultural or wood products or voluntary regulation in the mining sector (Auld, 2014). For example, concentration in global agri-food supply chains has enabled industry to introduce production and sustainability standards (Bailis and Baka, 2011). Initially NGOs but later also governments have promoted certification schemes for food at global or regional levels (Auld, 2010). The European Union and USA are now seeking to regulate global timber production through trade-related measures. These forms of flow-centered governance complement classic territorial forms of land governance, such as the designation of protected areas, regulation of land use, and land use planning (Sikor and Müller, 2009). They also add to the new instruments used in territorial governance, in particular novel financial mechanisms such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (Muradian et al., 2010). 

Dynamics of land governance and value