In October 2019, Community Land Scotland took part in the 2019 meeting of the International Land Coalition (ILC) Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMENA) region. 18 organisations from nine countries – Morocco, Spain, Albania, Jordan, Italy, Moldova, Kosovo, Palestine and Scotland gathered in Southern Italy to discuss common themes such as depopulation of rural areas, the commons, women’s land rights, climate change and inequality of land ownership.
At the end of the event, the group published the Torrecuso Declaration. Jo Wawrzyczek, a Director of Community Land Scotland who was involved in drafting the Declaration, said “considering how diverse the countries in the EMENA region are, there are a surprising number of commonalities. The depopulation of rural areas, in particular, is seen to be an issue across the region and other countries are watching the green shoots of population recovery on some of Scotland’s community owned estates with interest.”
In the Declaration, the ILC EMENA group commits to: working together in solidarity across our region, assuming that gender equality is integrated in all our actions, learning from and supporting each other, as we prioritise:
- Recognizing that our actions have direct impact on the quality of life of the present and future generation, we commit to share and implement good sustainable practices in order to prevent the effects of climate change. Understanding that the climate crisis is also the cause of land conflicts, displacement of people and migration, we call upon governments to prioritise, in its policy framework and especially through the CAP, sustainable agroecological systems that strengthen small-scale farming in contrast to industrial production models and agricultural monopolies;
- Targeting secure tenure rights for men and women equally, including pastoralists. In support to the commons and communal systems of land governance, we urge the European Union to reorient CAPs and other EU programmes to in order to integrate them into national policies, making them more visible and committing to provide effective, true support;
- Advocating and promoting inter-generational dialogue and the transfer of leadership, including a facilitation of access to and control over land for youth, especially those that are disadvantaged and disabled, as well as a reclaiming of traditional values and knowledge;
- We call upon governments to concentrate efforts on implementing specific policies targeting the development of rural areas in order to encourage and enable people of working age, especially youth, to repopulate these lands and contribute to the local economies while living with quality and dignity;
- Applying more gender justice principles in our work and in the way we manage our organizations. We recognize the challenges faced by women to have their voices heard and their rights respected. We call all the stakeholders to take action to fight against discriminatory practices and unequal power structures that undermine women’s rights, specially their access to land and economic empowerment;
- Opposing criminal and financial speculation of land and we commit to lobbying government for land to become a common property resource to create wealth, wellbeing and justice;
- Being a Coalition based on solidarity and universal human rights principles, we reject any official policy or non- official practice that violates the basic human rights of people, especially those related to land. In this spirit, we urge governments to implement and promote the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and to respect the resolutions of UN bodies, especially those related to the occupation of Palestine territory and the forced displacement of its people.