Land Access and Resettlement

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Land Access and Resettlement

A Guide to Best Practice

This book is an up-to-date, accessible and practical guide on how to optimally plan for, implement and review land access and resettlement. It provides step-by-step information on how to avoid pitfalls, ensure that best practice is being employed and the correct standards are being applied. With useful real-life examples of when projects have gone well and when they haven't, the book is based on the main lessons that have been learned on-the-ground over the past decade.

Natural resource projects can have considerable impacts on local communities, chiefly due to the need to acquire large areas of land.  When projects are located in developing and middle income economies, the impacts are most keenly felt, as it often requires displacement of large rural populations, with predominately land-based livelihoods. The authors have planned, implemented and reviewed over 50 land access and resettlement projects in over 30 countries internationally, and conducted benchmarking exercises on a further 60 projects.  This experience provides the basis for the book. 

The book guides the reader through the different stages of preparing for a land resettlement project. Land Access and Resettlement is a key social risk for the natural resources sector, particularly the mining, oil and gas industries, who are operating in a context of increased awareness and regulation regarding the potential social impacts of their activities. At the same time, companies increasingly appreciate the business case for ‘getting social right’. This book provides a practical road map to corporate leaders, project managers, practitioners, academia, government and civil society for practically planning and implementing successful land access and resettlement, and creating win-win outcomes for companies and communities. 

It is a must read for everyone in the impact assessment profession and will be a standard reference on the shelves of resettlement and land access literature. Overall, the book is an intelligent and thoughtful piece of work that will be enjoyed by the general reading public as well.

'International Association for Impact Assessment Journal' on 1 Jun 2015 Seth Appiah-Opoku, University of Alabama

I heartily commend this book to extractive and other project communities' practitioners everywhere.

Dr Chris Anderson, Americas Director, Communities & Social Performance, Rio Tinto

This book is a marvellous compendium of all the important elements of resettlement and economic displacement, and more importantly it is a practical guide to actually undertaking the work. Aimed primarily at social performance practitioners and project managers, the language and structure of the book makes for easy reading and comprehension. Its currency flows from the field experience of the writers, very evident in its many case examples. Currency is enhanced through up-to-date cross-referencing to Equator Bank and other international standards. This is an essential resource for everybody involved in or about to embark on the resettlement and displacement of land-connected people.

Bruce Harvey, Director, Resolution88

This very comprehensive and well-written guide to land access and resettlement is clearly based on a great wealth of knowledge and experience gained from working on many projects worldwide. Case studies provide examples of innovative approaches and the latest thinking on practical solutions to address difficult issues. The book will be of particular use to practitioners involved with the detailed planning and implementation of resettlement and livelihood restoration measures.

Ted Pollett, International Social Development and Resettlement Advisor & Former Principal Social Development Specialist, IFC

This is an essential handbook for governments and developers that are working in instances where resettlement cannot be avoided and are committed to reducing the harm associated with physical, economic and social displacement. The authors draw on their vast international experience to present practical, accessible steps to manage the resettlement process.

Dr Ana Maria Esteves, Director, Community Insights Group

This book is a must-read for everyone in resource development. It provides the business case for relocation, provides common-sense advice, and debunks the myths associated with developing robust social plans.

Ross Gallinger, former Executive Director of PDAC and CSR Professional

This book is clearly written by practitioners. The project examples, tools, templates and frameworks could not be shaped other than through years of experience. The book firmly establishes land access and resettlement as a discipline that involves a comprehensive set of activities. It should end the discussion with those who still think that resettlement is just about building new houses. Many thanks for this fantastic contribution!

Luc Zandvliet, Author of Getting it Right: Making Corporate Community Relations Work

The Guide is a welcome and timely addition to the existing guidance on such a challenging issue. The fact that it is done by practitioners for practitioners makes it particularly useful.  The Guide also articulates a strong “business case” for private companies and governments to get it right. I can see practitioners around the world using the Guide as a key tool and to engage clients and other stakeholders in dealing with such a complex issue more effectively.

Jorge Villegas, Social Development Specialist

While there is a number of guidelines for the development of resettlement action plans, this book provides practical considerations and tools to assist project teams involved in resettlement action plan implementation. This is supported by the use of real-life examples of good practice and challenges encountered during implementation.

Jan Grobler, Principal Technical Expert for Land Acquisition and Resettlement, Royal Dutch Shell

Corporate leaders, project managers and social practitioners involved in delivering resettlement programmes will find this "how-to" guide an invaluable resource for carrying out resettlement on large infrastructure projects. This book goes beyond policy and principles to explain in detail the practical steps required to engage with communities, negotiate mutually acceptable arrangements for land access and resettlement, and successfully implement. This is a significant contribution to advancing resettlement practice.

Robert Barclay, International Resettlement Practitioner

This book provides a comprehensive, well-organised and practical guide to the complex issue of land access and resettlement, with particular relevance to the extractives sector. Drawing on a wealth of professional experience and a series of benchmark surveys, the authors have created a much-needed reference guide that bridges the gap between international resettlement policies and how these are executed on the ground in the private sector context.

Justin Pooley, Resettlement Specialist



1. Introduction

2. The business case for getting it right

3. Best practice and institutional and legal frameworks

4. Project planning and preparation

5. Stakeholder engagement

6. Baseline data collection and analysis

7. Assessing project impacts and risks, and minimising displacement

8. Compensation frameworks

9. Physical resettlement planning

10. Livelihood restoration planning

11. Vulnerable persons

12. The negotiation process

13. Compensation and resettlement sign-off

14. Physical resettlement implementation

15. Community investment and development

16. Livelihood restoration and community development implementation

17. Cultural heritage

18. Monitoring and evaluation

19. Land management

20. Closing thoughts

Glossary of key terms

Bibliography and additional resources

About the authors


GERRY REDDY and MICHAEL STEYN are Directors at Steyn Reddy Associates and EDDIE SMYTH is a Director at Intersocial Consulting. Each has over 15 years' experience in managing land access projects in over 20 different countries.

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