Increasing security of land tenure

Regularizing land tenure
Providing secure real estate
Land tenure determines the rights to land use, with specific terms and conditions that are formally recognized by society. Agenda 21 recommends the establishment of appropriate forms of land tenure which provide security of tenure for all land-users and property owners, especially indigenous people, women, local communities, low-income urban dwellers and the rural poor. Security of tenure guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats. Tenure can take a variety of forms, including home ownership, rental (public and private) accommodation, cooperative housing and secure rights in squatter settlements.
Wide tracts of huge holdings are underutilized or lie idle while significant portions of the rural population are struggling for access to land. Not only has this predicament led to civil unrest in the past but it continues to do so at present. Additionally, environmental degradation as peasant farmers penetrate the fragile frontier in search of land has become a source of concern.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

The assignment of property titles to slum dwellers in Bandung, Indonesia, has tripled household investment in sanitation facilities. In Thailand assigning ownership titles and tenurial rights to land in recent years has made it more profitable for farmers to invest in soil conservation and land improvement, thus reducing soil erosion. Providing security tenure to hill farmers in Kenya has reduced soil erosion. Allocating transferable rights to fishery resources has checked the tendency to overfish in New Zealand.

To foster this strategy at a national level the World Bank recommends the following. Do: regularize land tenure; expand land registration; privatize public housing stock; establish property taxation. Don't: engage in mass evictions; institute costly titling systems; nationalize land; discourage land transactions.

Countless examples reveal that when people are given security of tenure, they will invest in the improvement of their homes and neighbourhoods. The granting of secure tenure is, therefor, one of the most important catalysts in stabilizing communities, improving shelter conditions, reducing social exclusion, improving access to urban services, leveraging corporate and individual investment and improving the urban environment.
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 15: Life on Land