Poverty reduction and shared prosperity, increasing food security, sustainable urbanization, addressing climate change, reducing fragility, and greater voice and inclusion of vulnerable groups depend on good land governance.
Land challenges also impact governance structures and investments in roads and infrastructure, public health, energy and extractives, and trade.
Land and housing are the most important assets of the poor. But the poor need secure rights to turn those assets into economic opportunities.
Today, over 4 billion people or 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas; by 2045 the number of people living in cities will increase by 1.5 times to 6 billion, adding 2 billion more urban residents that require infrastructure and services.
Property taxes can contribute significantly to local government revenues and services, but this resource is commonly underutilized in low income countries (0.4 % of GDP versus 35.5% in middle income countries).
And to succeed in reducing the number of poor living on less than $1.90 per day, efforts need to focus on assisting them to leverage their assets so they can start a new business or grow an existing one, partner with responsible private sector investors, and better manage their resources for future generations.
Improving tenure security for both women and men can have a greater impact on household income, food security, and equity.
Titling and mapping have been made cheap, feasible, and shareable by digitalization and new technologies, however, excessive requirements, lack of standardization, conservative professions, and restrictive policies limit new campaigns and access to existing geospatial information.
More secure collective rights to land and other resources are particularly important for Indigenous Peoples and marginalized groups. Strengthening the land rights of women and vulnerable populations does not only respond to basic norms of equality, but has positive outcomes on human capital and development.
It also responds to the SDG target of “all men and women having equal rights to ownership and control over land by 2030.” Reaching this goal will require independent and transactable rights to land for women. Unless women’s rights are explicitly protected, inheritance can be cumbersome and not provide a safety net.
Improving land governance will also contribute to reducing conflict and social tension, and is a pressing need in the immediate post-conflict period. Failing to resolve widespread land conflicts can affect economic performance and social peace. While land-related grievances are often not the only source of conflict, failure to address them can increase the potential for conflict.
Estimates suggest that around 30% of land rights are registered or recorded worldwide. This means that there is much work to be done.