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Insight series compendium

Dealing with Legacy Resettlement Issues (EN)

Legacy resettlement issues — stemming from previous land access processes — present a range of deeply complex challenges and have the ability to significantly influence a project’s social landscape.  This Compendium consolidates a two-part Insight Series developed by Steyn Reddy Associates (SRA) to help projects understand the practical steps they can take to ensure legacy issues are adequately addressed throughout the land access and resettlement process



Land access and resettlement is a highly sensitive process requiring significant time and resources to manage effectively. While this process is challenging under any circumstances, risks posed to both project proponents and those affected alike become substantially more complicated when legacy resettlement issues also exist.

Legacy resettlement issues stem from any unresolved disputes or claims over the nature in which land was previously acquired in an area designated for project development. These issues can be inherited when project responsibility shifts from one proponent to another, but may also be linked to issues in which resettlement has been ongoing for an extended period over multiple phases without any change in ownership.

Successful management of legacy resettlement issues is often complicated by a number of factors, including lack of first hand knowledge, lack of records, the possibility of speculation or “gaming the system”, and distrust among key parties, as well as related difficulties in defining eligibility, entitlements, roles and responsibilities successfully.

Notwithstanding these complications, project proponents are often faced with the need to resolve legacy issues in order to (a) resolve long-standing grievances and/or (b) fully secure the land rights required in support of their development proposals.  Doing so also provides proponents with an opportunity to ‘right’ historical wrongdoing, address the full suite of displacement impacts associated with their project, reset relationships with key stakeholders (and particularly those affected), and strengthen a project’s social license to operate.

In this Compendium, SRA provides an overview of how legacy issues arise, the particular challenges associated with their management, related risks for both proponents and those affected, and concrete steps that can be taken to avoid and manage these issues successfully.

SRA Insights

SRA is a recognised thought leader in the field of land access and resettlement.

We publish a popular and comprehensive Insight Series, as well as occasional Briefing Notes and journal articles on key topics.

Over the coming months, we will be releasing our complete library of thought leadership - in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Check back regularly for new resources.