Addressing Global Land Challenges – Clarissa Augustinus, UN-Habitat

By on 12/03/2015

Addressing Global Land Challenges’ aims to introduce the land challenges facing the planet, and some of the solutions for creating sustainable cities associated to the land issue.

mp3 icon Addressing Global Land Challenges – Clarissa Augustinus



This lecture is based on the realization that the current global approach to land systems cannot meet the needs of the majority of people in developing countries in regard to security of tenure and it cannot supply the data/information necessary for sustainable cities. Innovative solutions are needed which work at scale, such as pro poor land information management systems, the continuum of land rights and participatory inclusive land readjustment.

An analysis of the land systems of over 25 developing countries in all regions has shown that current systems are not coping. Serviced land cannot be delivered at scale. Planning is either not implemented, or not implemented as planned, at scale. To deliver at scale, a gap of 18 missing tools was identified. Global Land Tool Network partners have been developing these land tools to find solutions. The analytical framework for these tools is premised on the continuum of land rights and that the tools are pro poor and gender responsive; and that they will include the majority of people in a country and be capable of supplying the necessary information for city wide management. Within that analytical framework each tool is developed with a reference group of partners including the profession involved, civil society, research and training institutions, also to build its robustness, legitimacy and use. Tool development is undertaken within the framework of big science.

  1. The Affordable Land Systems Proposition. The conventional land administration system being used globally cannot serve the needs of the majority or fast growing cities and small towns. Instead we must develop affordable land systems that can cater for the majority of people in our generation.
  2. The New Forms of Tenure Security Proposition. Freehold ownership cannot be scaled to cover the majority of people in the developing world for another 6-10 years. Instead we must create legal frameworks built around the continuum of land rights.
  3. The Conventional Land Administration Tools Proposition. Conventional tools are not fit for purpose to supply tenure security for the majority and capture the land information needed for city wide slum upgrading, city extension and densification. Instead we must develop new land tools to ensure ample serviced land supply such as participatory inclusive land readjustment, new forms of city wide slum upgrading, Social Tenure Domain Model, value sharing between the public and private sector, pro poor land records.
  4. The Planning, Land and Servicing Delivery Systems Proposition. Current systems being used by cities, such as planning, land, services, cost recovery, often do not cover the whole city in developing countries leading to the proliferation of informal settlements. New fit for purpose systems have to be developed and implemented. These systems in the land sector need new tools which require new methods of action research to design robust approaches.

Propositions for addressing the issue

  1. The Land Tenure Proposition: the water and sanitation needs of dwellers in informal settlements cannot be met without first addressing the land tenure insecurity issues.
  2. The Right to Dignity Proposition: people face a loss of dignity when sanitation facilities are not available in the near vicinity. As the saying goes, water is life, sanitation is dignity.
  3. The Gender Violence Proposition: Any effort to improve sanitation in Nairobi’s slums must include efforts to reduce the culture of violence as well as the structural factors that enable violence against women to continue.
  4. The Affordable Housing Proposition: Akiba Mashinani Trust believes in the building of affordable housing units equipped with water and sanitation systems for slum dwellers as a way of tackling the persistent inadequacy of water and sanitation systems in informal settlements.


Clarissa Augustinus is Unit Leader of Land and the Global Land Tool Network, Urban Legislation, Land and Governance Branch, UN-Habitat. She is the leader of the Global Land Tool Network, which has 64 international partners including the World Bank, Slum/Shack Dwellers International, the Association of African Planning Schools, the International Federation of Surveyors. She has been the global focal point for urban land in the United Nations system for 11 years. This has exposed her to the global challenges. GLTN works to find solutions. While holding a PhD in Social Anthropology, she was a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering, Surveying and Construction, on land management, at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. She is widely published.


Associated Materials

Global Land Tool Network Webpage

UN-Habitat/GLTN 2012 Handling land: Innovative tools for land governance and secure tenure

GLTN 2012 Designing a Land Record System for the Poor

Antonio, D. Makau, J. and S. Mabala 2013 Addressing the Information Requirements of the Urban Poor – A Government-Community Partnership in Piloting the Social Tenure Domain Model in Uganda, Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty 2013

Cain, A. Beat, W. and M. Festo 2013 Participatory inclusive land readjustment in Huambo, Angola


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