The World Bank supports government policies that recognize and record all forms of legitimate tenure: public and private, rural and urban, formal and customary, including those of pastoralists or others with weak rights, collective and individual, whether they be smallholders, medium-, or large-scale producers.
The Bank pays particular attention to the land rights of smallholders, women, Indigenous Peoples, and their economic empowerment.
The World Bank is working to address land tenure insecurity through land administration projects, analytical work, and technical assistance.
World Bank Operations
The Bank invests in assisting countries to improve their systems to recognize, title, survey, and register land and property, improve their policies and laws, and develop digital land administration services. The Bank’s focus is on employing land records and infrastructure for digital services that create jobs; make transactions more transparent; promote growth; enhance planning and development; and improve equitable revenue collection, state and public asset management, and environmental protection.
The Bank is currently working in 48 countries, with a current investment of approximately $1 billion in commitments, impacting millions of land tenure holders in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa.
Working on the frontier of technological advances, the Bank is also investing in new geospatial technologies.
- In Albania and Kosovo, the Bank is piloting the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, to map and register property rights.
- In FYR Macedonia, Russia, Vietnam, and other countries, the Bank is supporting the establishment of National Spatial Data Infrastructures to improve decision-making for investment and natural resource management.
- In Lebanon, Serbia, and Turkey, the Bank supports the development of automated mass property valuation systems for more equitable and efficient property taxation, management of state assets, and transparent property markets.
Management and administration of land can generate revenue. In Uganda, one dollar invested in land administration by the World Bank’s Competitiveness and Enterprise Development project generated three dollars in local revenue. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, based on research of thirteen land registration projects that have now closed, the benefit to the economy of a single registration was over 16 dollars in revenue.
The World Bank is working at the global and regional levels to support tenure rights, including:
- First, contributing to the development and implementation of the UN Committee for the World Food Security’s Voluntary Land Guidelines, or VGGT, and the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment;
- Second, supporting regional efforts, like the African Union’s Land Policy Initiative Framework and guidelines on land policy;
- Third, promoting detailed reviews on land governance, like the Land Governance Assessment Framework, or LGAF. These studies have been completed in 35 (16 in Africa), and the Bank is in the process of completing an additional 12 more studies; and
- Fourth, as a founding member of the Global Donor Working Group on Land, the Bank is implementing the VGGT, and more recently helping to secure agreements among member states to include two land indicators in SDG 1 (Poverty) and 5 (Gender).
The Bank is also engaged in high level land policy discussions in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Latin America and Caribbean, and Middle East and North Africa regions.
Property rights are critical to addressing multiple SDGs. The global community is focused largely on SDG 1 – to end poverty in all its forms everywhere – and 5 – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. But success also in other Goals will be contingent on resource rights providing incentives, securing shelter, and guaranteeing access to resources.
With the current levels of investment, the global community will not significantly increase the number of poor households with secure property rights, and will likely not achieve the SDG target of “all men and women having equal rights to ownership and control over land by 2030.”
A substantial new investment program on improving security of tenure on a mass scale in developing countries is needed.