Most of the challenges facing political decision-makers and the private sector today are inextricably connected to land issues.
A more equitable land tenure system not only supports efforts to address climate change, rapid urbanisation, food, water and resource scarcity but also helps to reverse structural inequalities between and within countries.
Land is a politically sensitive and emotive resource. In many countries, land rights and land governance systems are weak, resulting in tenure rights and claims being undocumented and overlapping. According to the World Bank, 70% of land and property in the developing world is unregistered and therefore sits outside the formal market, while in Africa 90% of residential and commercial property is without title. According to UN-Habitat and the United Nations Humans Rights Office of the High Commissioner, every year sees millions of people being forcibly displaced by development and infrastructure projects to the detriment of the most vulnerable parts of society, especially women and children. Endemic corruption within land administration systems and associated decision-making mechanisms further acerbates inequality amongst the already disadvantaged.
The Sustainable Development Goals offer an opportunity to raise the status of land tenure and property rights but in view of the current lack of technical tools and solutions within the land industry standards are urgently needed to record and report land and property transfer information, standards that are both transparent and robust enough to enable national governments and international agencies to provide fair compensation on land transfer to displaced parties.
To this end, the International Land Measurement Standard (ILMS – due diligence in land acquisition and transfer for surveyors) have been developed by a coalition of more than 30 national and international organisations and institutions, established in June 2016 at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.
According to UN-Habitat and the United Nations Humans Rights Office of the High Commissioner, every year sees millions of people being forcibly displaced by development and infrastructure projects to the detriment of the most vulnerable parts of society, especially women and children.
The objective is to establish a ‘due diligence’ framework for surveyors working in land acquisition and transfer that embraces the global governance principles within the Sustainable Development Goals and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGTs) through robust conveyancing, secure lending and land registration.
The ILMS professional sector framework is deeply connected and indebted to the recently released UN FAO Due Diligence for lawyers working in land acquisition and transfer document. The UNFAO and ILMS due diligence standards help create a stable and transparent model for practice for stakeholders involved in the land acquisition process. ILMS will be applicable both at individual project as well as regional, state, national and international level and will work in countries with existing land information systems, land administration and land governance contexts but also in those without.
The strengthening of land rights must be at the heart of tackling extreme inequality and of creating resilient and more inclusive societies. Establishing efficient land markets through the adoption of industry standards will help stimulate the development of infrastructure and services and facilitate the use of the land as investment security for loans, fostering economic empowerment and growth in underserved markets and communities.
Regional Managing Director, Americas
New York City, USA
As Managing Director of Americas since 2012, Neil is responsible for managing RICS’ presence in the US, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Neil has held senior leadership roles and led entrepreneurial initiatives at Fortune 500 companies and start-up ventures in a broad range of industries, such as IPT (now FM Maintenance), Cirqit, Partsearch Technologies and NorthMarq Real Estate Services.