Secure land tenure and property rights are fundamental to accessing adequate housing, food security and livelihoods. Land tenure security is crucial for the realization of human rights, poverty reduction, economic prosperity and sustainable development leading to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda and other regional and country level policy initiatives.

What we do:

We develop, disseminate and implement pro-poor and gender-responsive land tools through the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN). These tools and approaches contribute to land reform, good land governance, inclusive land administration, sustainable land management, and functional land sector coordination.

GLTN is a dynamic and multisectoral alliance of international partners committed to increasing access to land and tenure security for all, with a particular focus on the poor, women and youth. The Network’s partners include international rural and urban civil society organizations, research and training institutions, bilateral and multilateral organizations, and international professional bodies.

The Challenge

  • 90 per cent of landholdings in developing countries are not documented, administered or protected.
  • Urbanization is increasing pressure on land, with people living in cities expected to grow by 175 per cent by 2030.
  • Land administration practices do not cater for the complexity of land issues with overlapping rights and claims.
  • Women and the youth continue to have limited access to and control over land
  • 70 per cent more agricultural land is needed to increase in food production by 2050.

What is a Land Tool?

A land tool is a practical way to solve a problem in land administration and management. It is a way to put principles, policies and legislation into effect. The term covers a wide range of methods: a simple checklist to use when conducting a survey, software and accompanying protocols, training modules, or a broad set of guidelines and approaches. The emphasis is on practicality; users should be able to take a land tool and apply it or adapt it to their own situation. Land tools may complement each other. For example, one tool may give overall guidance on how collect data on land use, while another may give detailed instructions on how to assess whether the different needs of women and men are taken into account.

Land tools

GLTN land tools can be categorized in areas of work and crosscutting issues. They include the following:


To-date, the GLTN programme has benefitted more than
households in Uganda, Zambia, Nepal, Democratic Republic of The Congo, Kenya, Philippines, Namibia and Iraq.
More than
change agents from 92 institutions improved their knowledge and capacity to promote and apply pro-poor and gender-responsive land tools, resulting in improved tenure security for communities.
Security of tenure has been improved for more than
households in Uganda, Zambia and the Philippines through the Global Land Tool Network with 2,611 occupancy certificates issued to beneficiaries in Uganda and Zambia

News and Stories

“My children and I still lived in fear of being attacked until our land was mapped and the boundaries were established"

Widow with 14 children in the small regional town of Pader, Uganda

Related Sustainable Development Goals

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Leaving no one and no place behind

Hover over or click the icons to learn about UN-Habitat's work on social inclusion here.

By focusing on a range of relationships and uses of land and how all groups experience tenure security, UN-Habitat addresses the social inclusion and human rights. Additionally, tenure security is part of the Right to Adequate Housing which UN-Habitat addresses through its specific focus on this topic.

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By focusing on a range of relationships and uses of land and how all groups experience tenure security, UN-Habitat addresses the needs of women and girls in relation to land and tenure security as all groups are included in our work. Women’s empowerment is a key focus of our work on land and through the Global Land Tool Network. Specific tools and approaches are used which help understand women and girls relationships to land and how they can be engaged in processes and projects to improve their tenure security. Tools like the Gender Evaluation Criteria and the Continuum of Land Rights approach have been widely used to achieve change.

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Youth, children and older persons, especially those in situations of particular risk of marginalization, such as girl child and female-headed households, are often excluded from access to housing, urban basic services, public spaces and infrastructure, and the overall benefits of urbanization. Young women and men have been a key focus of UN-Habitat’s work. The agency has successfully advocated for the role of youth as leaders in sustainable urban development, recognizing the guiding principle of the SDGs of “leaving no one behind,” and the New Urban Agenda vision of cities for all. 

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Sustainable urban development can only be achieved if persons with disabilities are included meaningfully in decision-making and are able to access their rights. UN-Habitat partners with representative groups and individual rights holders, as well as national and local governments, relevant UN bodies and civil society to maximize impact and to meaningfully ensure that the rights including accessibility and universal design of persons with disabilities are promoted, respected and protected. 

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Donors and partners

The success of the Global Land Tool Network has been its investment in and commitment to multi-stakeholder collaboration and partnership development. Through GLTN, UN-Habitat has been able to reach out to a diverse group of stakeholders at global, regional and country levels including local communities to undertake projects and events related to tenure security. GLTN is able to work alongside UN-Habitat to connect with national and local level implementing partners from a diverse background and also has a track record of engaging traditional leaders.