How important are land rights for global development?

Global discussions over land rights and security have been increasing. From identifying the causes of land insecurity, the debate has recently shifted to finding solutions and the role of land in the future of global development.

Owning a piece of land is not just owning a piece of asset, it is a right that becomes the bed rock of a person’s higher development aspirations. Breaching this should be considered a human rights violation, according to Tiernan Mennen, director of land and resource rights at Chemonics International.

“Land right is a human right. It is the foundation to so many issues in international development,” Mennen said during a conversation hosted by Devex for our #landmatters campaign.

Gregory Myers, in charge of land tenure and property rights at the U.S. Agency for International Development, chimed in: “The global community has realized that focusing on global property rights is a gateway to achieving greater development objectives.”

Although many challenges still hound the progress of land rights and security including governance and various cultural perceptions of the issue, panelists said a growing awareness and active participation of communities are painting a bright future for future land security initiatives. Opportunities are cropping up with property investment projections on the rise, and — with increased community engagement — they can form a significant portion of the role of land in the future of global development.

“I’m very excited to this growing realization that land security can be delivered in a variety of forms. There’s a lot of investment opportunities and benefits [for people],” said Steven Lawry, global leader for land rights at DAI. “Where people control their land, they have a foundation on which to build sustainable livelihoods and preserve the environment.”

Achieving sustainable and inclusive development is a long-term commitment but setting the right first steps is crucial. In this endeavor, land really does matter.

Watch the video for more insights from the panel discussion organized by Devex and DAI.

Although the #landmatters campaign has come to a close, discussions on the importance of land rights and security to international development will continue. Visit the microsite to view all the articles included in the campaign and continue the conversation in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn using the hashtag #landmatters.

About the author

  • Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.

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