Land and Development Take Centre Stage at the 7th India Land and Development Conference at FLAME University, Pune

FLAME University,Pune, India, November 11, 2023: The 7th India Land and Development Conference (ILDC) was organized at the scenic campus of FLAME University, known for being a pioneer in liberal education, from November 1st to 3rd, 2023. ILDC champions cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary dialogues on land and development. It is a unique platform where researchers, practitioners, governments, businesses, and entrepreneurs converge for open and inclusive conversations.

This annual gathering, since its inception in 2017, has emerged as a convening for land stakeholders and enthusiasts from the Global South, igniting crucial discussions on vital land-related issues, forging partnerships, collaborative research, and impactful actions. As an inclusive international conference, it has significantly contributed to a thriving land ecosystem in India. The ILDC 2023 kicked off with a pre-conference doctoral workshop at NICMAR University and a practitioner’s workshop at FLAME University on October 31st.

The theme of ILDC 2023 revolved around the profound shifts in land use, tenures, and administration taking place globally. Initiatives like Climate Actions and Sustainable Development Goals are influencing land usage, particularly impacting marginalized communities. Despite these transformations, diversity thrives in land-people relations, where customary tenure and collective tenure persist alongside formal reforms.

Commenting on the conference, Dr. Dishan Kamdar, Vice-Chancellor, of FLAME University, said, “ILDC 2023 at FLAME University marks an extraordinary juncture where global dialogue converges with local context. We are proud to host this platform that not only fosters profound discussions but also propels real-world action and collaborative research. As an institution committed to interdisciplinary education, we see ILDC as a catalyst for change and a driving force for addressing the crucial land-related issues of our time. With its diversity, inclusivity, and commitment to nurturing the next generation of land researchers, ILDC 2023 at FLAME University is set to make a lasting impact on the global landscape of land and development.”

Welcomed by Prof. Dinesh Shenoy, Dean, Faculty of Business, FLAME University, the event boasted an impressive lineup of key speakers, including Dr. Mika-Petteri Törhönen, Global Lead on Land, The World Bank; Mr. S. Chockalingam, IAS, Director General, YASHADA; Dr. Jaap Zevenbergen, Chief Editor, Land Use Policy and Professor, University of Twente, The Netherlands; Dr. Serene Ho, University of Melbourne; Dr. Anna Locke, Co-founder, PRIndex and ODI Senior Research Associate, UK; Prof. Satish Deodhar, Dean – Academics, IIM Ahmedabad, amongst others.

Several experts also presented their valuable insights at the conference, including Prof. Shamsher Singh, Faculty of Sociology, FLAME University, who presented on the critical topic of homestead land and its access, equity, governance, and legislation, and Prof. Yugank Goyal, Faculty of Public Policy, FLAME University, who offered valuable insights on balancing competing land interests through theories and evidence-based practices.

Commenting on the conference, Mr. S. Chockalingam, IAS, Director General, YASHADA, Government of Maharashtra, said, “ILDC, as a unique land convergence platform, must continue to be hosted and owned by academic and other institutions working on land to sustain interdisciplinary land conversations.” Underscoring the multiple dimensions and criticality of land as an asset, he emphasized the need for state land administration departments to make available correct and updated land records through improved and adaptive surveying and registration systems.

Megatrends like climate change and action, migration, war, and rising population, Dr. Mika-Petteri Törhönen, Global Lead on Land, The World Bank, felt, impact land use and tenure. Given its limited geographic area vis-à-vis its population, he felt there are challenges as well as opportunities before India around the way it should administer land more inclusively with updated records.

The highlight of ILDC 2023, however, was the keynote address by Ms. Sevati Bai, a village woman from Chhattisgarh who shared her land journey. She passionately articulated how persistent fighting led to getting her land (recognition of individual forest rights) and, subsequently, her identity as a woman farmer and a village leader.

Central to the conference’s discussions were the following key themes: the intricate relationship between women’s land rights and digitization of land records; the impact of formalization efforts like SVAMITVA and forest rights on financial inclusion and climate action; the interplay between renewable energy investments and land economics; and how climate action and inclusive growth initiatives influence local tenure systems, including informality and community tenure.

Additionally, the conference had presentations and deliberations that explored the connections between technology and land policy, climate change, disaster resilience, urban planning, and the development of land tenure systems, all while actively championing endeavors aimed at democratizing resource governance and giving voice to ‘left-behind’ communities, such as tea tribes and fishermen. These multifaceted discussions at the conference aimed to drive forward the global dialogue on critical land-related issues.

In their keynotes, while Dr. Serene Ho from the University of Melbourne explored the idea of justice in land administration from multiple dimensions, Dr. Jaap Zevenbergen, Chief Editor, of Land Use Policy and Professor, at the University of Twente, The Netherlands, highlighted the limitation of the western notion of land administration that promotes only ownership rights and makes it more powerful compared to other rights, viz., the user, access, etc., as secondary, therefore building problematics.

Delivering the Haque memorial lecture in memory of Dr. Tajamul Haque, the founding chair of ILDC, and the famous land expert, Prof. Satish Deodhar, Dean-Academics, IIM Ahmedabad, delved into India’s ancient texts to highlight the land tenure traditions and ethics that are anti-theses of the principle of eminent domain.

Some of the key highlights of ILDC 2023 include:

Curated Panel Discussions and Round Tables: ILDC 2023 provided a platform to engage with administrators, practitioners, development leaders, and the private sector in thought-provoking discussions.

Master Classes: The conference provided the opportunity to explore contemporary, critical topics with experts who lead in their respective fields.

Platforms for Young Researchers: It provided a platform to help connect with peers and mentors while delving into the future of land research.

Recommendation for Publication: Papers submitted during the conference underwent a comprehensive peer review process and may be recommended for publication.

Mentorship: Ph.D. students attending ILDC 2023 had the opportunity for mentorship during the conference, fostering the growth of the next generation of land researchers.

ILDC 2023 promised to be a milestone in the ongoing dialogue on land and development, bringing together diverse voices to address the challenges and opportunities in the changing landscape of land use. It embarked on an exploration of the intricate connections, encouraging participants to delve deep into the intricate interplay between external transition triggers, such as climate actions and sustainable development goals, and the diverse local contexts within the realm of land and development.

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