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Home » October 2012

Urban LandMark participates in 6th World Urban Forum

by Lauren Royston, theme co-ordinator for Urban LandMark's urban land rights and secure tenure programme of work

As a new partner in the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), Urban LandMark received an invitation from UN-Habitat to attend the Sixth World Urban Forum (WUF) from 1-6 September 2012 in Naples, Italy. The government of Italy, the region of Campania and the City of Naples hosted the event at Mostre d'Oltremare. The WUF was established by the United Nations General Assembly to examine the challenge of rapid urbanisation and its impact on communities, cities, economies and the environment.

Piazza del Plebiscito in the old city, Naples

Mostra d'Oltremare, the WUF 6 venue

The GLTN is a network of international organisations and individuals promoting secure land and property rights for all through the promotion of a continuum of land rights and the development of pro-poor and gender appropriate land tools.

One of Urban LandMark's main aims in going to the WUF was to build the partnership with the GLTN, so we prioritised participation in a series of GLTN events -

Youth and Land event at the Youth Assembly, 1 September 2012

Presentations and discussions explored the youth-land link, advocating why land is a youth issue. Issues of mobility, job-seeking, inheritance rights, the position of girls and a range of tenure rights, including rental opportunities, were emphasised as being youth-specific in relation to land. We felt that strategic positioning of the youth/land access issue was important, especially in contexts where an under-supply of land affects people across the age spectrum. We came away with the more nuanced addition of a youth-based differentiation of need, to add to the income, gender and settlement typology disaggregation that informs much of our work.

Networking event on the Social Tenure Domain Model co-organised with the Government of Uganda and Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), 4 September 2012

The Social Tenure Domain Model is a pro-poor land information system developed by GLTN partners UN-Habitat, the International Federation of Surveyors and the Faculty of Geo-Information, Science and Earth Observation at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. It is an alternative to the traditional cadastre, as it has the capacity to capture and manage tenure categories that the conventional cadastral system cannot, including social and customary claims. Capable of capturing a range of land rights, it is closely linked to GLTN's concept of a continuum of land rights.

The model is a land rights recognition and land information tool, as it records various rights resulting in the production of a 'certificate of residence'. It is also an information and mapping tool, as it results in the production of an initial neighbourhood plan and holds settlement data collected by communities.

UN-Habitat's publication Handling Land
The model has just been piloted in Mbale, Uganda, in a partnership of the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development of Uganda, Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), the Cities Alliance and UN-Habitat through GLTN. The structure of the event emphasised this partnership, with inputs from most partners. For example, we heard from SDI about the link of the Social Tenure Domain Model to community-led enumeration.

We found it one of the most worthwhile events at WUF, being both practical and conceptual in nature, offering a workable tenure security alternative to conventional cadastral and registration systems.

We were cautioned against seeing the model merely as a software package, and encouraged to view it as a new way of thinking about land records, a software package based on free, widely used and open source systems to record information about land, and a method of collecting data about land.

More information on the Social Tenure Domain Model can be accessed in GLTN's new publication Handling Land.

GLTN Roundtable on celebrating a range of land rights, 5 September 2012

Urban LandMark attended this event as one of the GLTN's partners, which gave us an opportunity to comment on the continuum of land rights from our perspective of progressively securing tenure in informal settlement upgrading (see Urban LandMark's approach).

Opened by the UN-Habitat's deputy director, Ms Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, the roundtable was a celebration of the continuum of land rights as an approach to achieving sustainable tenure security at scale.

Norway's Eric Berg and Mikael Atterhog of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) endorsed the continuum's contribution to the achievement of tenure security for all.

The continuum, which was adopted at the 2011 UN-Habitat Governing Council resolution by Member States, was then presented in more detail by Jean du Plessis, the GLTN's capacity-building expert (land).

The GLTN tool places land rights along a continuum of informality/formality. Informal rights are characterised as being more traditional, customary or even social in nature, often with a group-based claim, and lacking clear, mapped boundary definition and official paperwork to certify rights. Formal rights are characterised as being individualised, registered and enshrined in law.

The point about the continuum is that a range of rights lie between these two extremes. The diagram illustrates the continuum but Jean du Plessis in his presentation emphasised that in reality the situation is neither as simple nor as linear, and that the continuum is a tool for capturing the range of rights.

GLTN's continuum of land rights

Jean du Plessis motivated for how a range of land rights is gaining ground, constituting a global paradigm shift on land. In his presentation he highlighted that the work of the 50 GLTN partners is at the forefront of this shift through various mechanisms, including research, mobilisation by grassroots and women, tool development and testing, and publications and advocacy to raise awareness.

We also attended the launch of the GLTN website and a GLTN partners dinner on Wednesday 5 September. Both these events came at the end of the networking events, dialogues and roundtable at WUF, and added a welcome informal networking and social character to the proceedings.

The following day, after the official closure of WUF, we attended the consultation on tenure security hosted by Raquel Rolnik, Special Rapporteur on the right to housing. The consultation focused on 'unpacking' tenure security through two themes: country- and community-level challenges and clarifying the content of the widespread use of the term 'security of tenure'.

In reality, the discussion sessions overlapped and contributions raised a series of interesting questions, including the right to land in particular (as opposed to housing, for example), the location of land value within the rights discourse, the limits of the law in securing tenure and the possibilities of planning in this regard, and the capability for rights to be incremental in legal terms.

Because of our own work on incremental tenure security, we found the debates and discussions about the continuum of land rights, which cut across several events at WUF, both interesting and constructively challenging. We came away with renewed commitment to advocating a progressive approach to tenure security.

Our Tenure Security Facility Southern Africa project, funded by the Cities Alliance and co-funded by Ukaid from the Department for International Development (DFID UK), is well positioned to deepen the practical application of a continuum of tenure security. We look forward to being able to contribute lessons from the work to the debates and practice via Cities Alliance and the GLTN in 2013.