Towards More Equitable Land Governance in Vanuatu: Ensuring Fair Land Dealings for Customary Groups

Current land leasing practices in Vanuatu reveal a number of problems, such as the neglect of
impact assessments, the overextension of ministerial power, inconsistencies in the determination
of land values, and the poor enforcement of lease conditions. Of perhaps overarching importance
is the leasing process‘ failure to take into account the customary principles of group landholding
in the country and to make available the advice and guidance most people require prior to lease
negotiations. All of these factors contribute to inequitable outcomes for landholders.
 

Poor lease creation processes are likely to intensify social discord, as disenfranchised groups
continue to be excluded from land use decision-making processes and benefit sharing. Improving
the transparency and accountability of the land leasing process and providing means for custom
landholding groups to make informed decisions about their land are critical to the maintenance of
sustainable development—and societal harmony—in Vanuatu.
 

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