The Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy will hold the event titled “Land Reforms in West and Central Africa: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Empowerment of Local Communities” at 3 p.m. Dec. 14 in Room 101 of the International Studies Building, 910 S. Fifth St., Champaign. Solange Bandiaky-Badji, the Africa program director for the Rights and Resources Initiative in Washington D.C., will speak.
African countries are now reforming the colonial legal frameworks that put the majority of forestland in government hands. This presentation shares lessons learned from forested countries in West and Central Africa that are currently undertaking community tenure reform processes, including Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Liberia. This presentation gives an overview of the challenges for tenure reforms in Africa such as lack of political will, limited government capacity to address tenure issues, inconsistent and limited legal frameworks on forest tenure, and opportunities for these countries to advance tenure reforms that achieve sustainable development and social justice objectives. It also discusses how a diverse range of actors — civil society organizations, traditional chiefs, parliamentarians, indigenous people, women and national institutions — are shaping these reform processes to secure the rights of local communities, women and Indigenous people.
Bandiaky-Badji leads the development of the Rights and Resources Initiative strategy for engagement in Africa with a focus on tenure rights, building more synergies around new strategic analyses and giving actors a more strategic understanding of trends, issues, options and gender in Africa. She holds a Ph.D. in women’s and gender studies from Clark University in Massachusetts, and master’s degrees in environmental sciences and philosophy from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal. She previously worked as the regional expert on gender and climate change for the Africa Adaptation Programme and the United Nations Development Programme/Bureau for Development Policy Gender Team in New York. She has published work on gender in relation to natural resource management, decentralization and local governance, forest and land reforms.