In Nepal, there are several legal and institutional mechanisms to monitor land conflicts ranging from the local to the federal levels. As the mechanisms lack adequate and trained human resources for legal assistance, however, many land conflict cases remain unresolved.
These were some of the main findings derived from the online workshop organised by ILC Asia member CSRC Nepal on 19 July, and in collaboration with the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC). The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the two reports that CSRC had produced as part of the Civil Society Organisations' Land Monitoring initiative in Nepal: (a) "The SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Target 1.4: Secure Rights to Land and Resources in Nepal" and (b) "The Land Conflict Monitoring in Nepal".
Kalpana Karki, Campaign Coordinator of CSRC, facilitated the entire discussion, while Dharm Raj Joshi, NES Facilitator, and Binod Gautam, Accountability and Governance Coordinator, delivered a comprehensive presentation on "The SDG Target 1.4: Secure Rights to Land and Resources in Nepal" and "The Land Conflict Monitoring in Nepal".
From the presentation of Dharm, it was clear that the Government of Nepal has been collecting data related to the SDG Targets 1.4.2 and 5a, and reporting to the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) through its Voluntary National Reviews (VNR). However, the indicators set nationally do not correspond directly to the indicators included in the SDGs at the global level. Hence, the government's effort is not contributing to the effort of the SDG to generate globally comparable data on key land-related indicators, including on SDG target 1.4.2. This exhibited the immediate need for the modification of the related indicators in line with the global indicators.
As Binod further discussed the disparity in resolving land conflicts in the country, he further explained that for example, only 20 percent out of the total 940 conflict cases were resolved in 2020. The situation is being deteriorated as there is an uptick in violation of the laws and the principle of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) while implementing large-scale development projects. Binod further recommended that the government fully implement the constitutional and legal provisions to safeguard people's right to land.
During the moderated open discussion following the presentations, interesting queries and valuable suggestions from the diverse set of participants came up. Nawaraj Basnet, Chairperson of the National Farmers' Group Federation (NFGF) suggested a specific field study to assess the status of land ownership, economic power, and livelihoods of landless, smallholder peasants, and marginalised communities as an approach in monitoring the SDGs on the ground. This will help craft specific policy recommendations for SDGs implementation as well.
Janak Raj Joshi, Joint-Secretary of Nepal Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation (MoLMCPA) agreed with the findings and committed to providing more precise data on SDG Target 1.4.2, especially on women's land ownership as all of 126 land revenue offices have started providing services online." On the land conflict monitoring, he suggested that the group include the conflicts on land use and ownership between Guthi and the individuals operating on Guthi lands as tenants. Guthi is a centuries-old trust system provisioned specifically for maintaining temples as well as organising cultural and religious festivals. The Guthi system is criticised by land rights advocates as it has exploitative relations with the peasant communities who have been living and working on various Guthi lands for generations.
In his closing remarks, Jagat Basnet, CSRC Executive Director, reminded participants that the presented studies were conducted with resource and time limitations. The CSO initiative is committed to continuing regular land dialogues with the hopes to contribute to land monitoring in Nepal in general and specifically on the SDG target 1.4.2. By doing this process, the Initiative hopes to inform the Government in their Voluntary National Review (VNR) processes and policymaking.
Land is often concentrated to a handful of powerful people, displacing small peasants from their productive lands. This is posing a big question towards ensuring secure land rights for all and achieving zero hunger. Land reform has long been used as political leverage but in reality, the transformative land reform has become no one's agenda at present.
"Land governance is understood only as paperwork of MoLMCPA. With this narrow sense, the complexity of land governance cannot be well understood and therefore remains unaddressed. In this context, we need to think about the accountability of all stakeholders including landowners, tenant peasants, government, CSOs, and the market, towards responsible and sustainable management and use of the land," said Jagat Basnet as he concluded the meeting.
 The CSO SDG Report is a component of the regional initiative entitled CBI 8 Phase 2, Sustainable, Reliable, and Transparent Data and Information towards Responsible Land Governance, being implemented in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, and the Philippines.
 The Land Conflict Monitoring Report serves as part of the initiative called CBI 9-10 Phase 2 Defending Land Rights and Land Rights Defenders in Asia, implemented in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines.
 Both initiatives are being supported by the International Land Coalition (ILC)