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News & Events Safeguarding tenure rights in land consolidation
Safeguarding tenure rights in land consolidation
Safeguarding tenure rights in land consolidation

I was assigned to lead the preparation of the assessments and amendments to the land consolidation legislation in 2016. That appeared to be a burdensome task. The first two land consolidation projects in North Macedonia were initiated according to the existing Land Consolidation Law and the implementation was blocked. The Law simply had no legal solutions for the identified field situations. The problems were many and each was ascending the other in its magnitude and sensitivity.

The cadastral data were outdated, many registered landowners were deceased, their descendants were living abroad for several generations and it was impossible to track them. There were no means to include the state owned land, which was a significant portion of the property in the land consolidation areas. The envisaged procedures were overly administrative and did not follow the dynamics of the field work. Each and every new word in the law needed to be carefully balanced so it provides the necessary legal protection and provides for the solution that would work in practice.

The landowners, counted in hundreds, were waiting for resolution and continuation of the land consolidation process. For the majority of them, the process meant improvement of livelihood of the whole family. The international partners and the state institutions supporting the land consolidation were getting anxious for results and were even considering to give up without another try…..there was no other option but to succeed in the endeavor…a lot was at stake…

Landowner signing land consolidation agreement form in Moldova
Landowner signing land consolidation agreement form in Moldova

Luckily, I was not alone in my endeavor. A team of dedicated women and men, professionals in their own technical field, from the Ministry and from my FAO team were there all the time, supporting every step of the way. Sometimes with ideas, sometimes with valuable experience from other countries…but not everything was going so smoothly and many, many times there were long and harsh arguments lasting until midnight in a conference venue called ‘Romantic’.

Those endless nights were everything but a romance for everyone involved! Little did we know that our small group would actually fall in love with the process along the way, that the hearts of otherwise cold professionals (lawyers☺) would warm up… That those moments were a beginning of a beautiful friendship and resulted in a strong commitment when it comes to fiercely defending the new provisions of the Law in front of others during the process of adoption….and it got adopted….and it is being implemented as we speak…

As in all other matters, it is no surprise that the introduction of land consolidation in the country starts with few enthusiastic people interested in the process. So much energy is needed to achieve the launching of an effective land consolidation mechanism in the country. We start from discovering the idea at international conferences, through readings and meetings, we present it to the national institutions, which often try to protect themselves from any innovations, we work hard to prepare the drafts of the legal acts, programs and plans, secure financing, manage institutional fears and unrealistic expectations, find answers to those, who always say “this is not possible”, ensure that our drafts are still recognizable after going through the legislative “sausage machine” …

Many professionals involved in land consolidation could tell us very long stories about their endeavors, which finally led to the launching of land consolidation in their native country or in some foreign country, eager for land management innovations. And yet, this is just the beginning of the whole thing... Once land consolidation regulations become part of the national legal system, it must start working and work efficiently.

We would like to invite participants to share these experiences, so that any land consolidation professional can eliminate the sense of loneliness in this combat field, feel part of a broad international community and share their experiences and know-how!