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World Bank Land Policies & Legal Empowerment of the Poor Conference

Sustainable Rural and Urban Development

Topic: Land Policies & Legal Empowerment of the Poor, November 2-3, 2006

Agenda

Papers presented at the Conference

Since 1998, the World Bank's land policy and administration thematic group has used the annual “Social Development Week” to bring together experts from academia, civil society, client governments, and other donor institutions in Washington to exchange ideas, share experience, and provide a forum for informal coordination on land policy issues around the world. The justification for having such an event is particularly stronger this year than in the past for a number of reasons:

  • International initiatives: A number of high profile international initiatives focusing on property rights and land issues have been launched recently. These include (i) the (High Level) Commission for Legal Empowerment of the Poor which started in early 2006; (ii) the Global Land Tools Network, aimed at practitioners, launched in July 2006, (iii) the joint initiative on 'Land Policy in Africa: A Framework for Action, jointly by the African Union, the Economic Commission for Africa, and the African Development Bank; (iv) a high profile initiative to prepare guidelines, indicators, and a roadmap by UNDP; (v) a large recent congress on Agrarian Reform by FAO; and (vi) a much enhanced profile by FIG (International Federation of Surveyors) that has already led to a series of expert meetings in virtually all regions.
  • New demands for Bank support:While projects on land policy and administration have long been an important part of the Bank's portfolio in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and East Asia, there is now significant interest in support on land policy from China, India, and many parts of Africa where land policy has significantly moved up on the agenda and initial legal and administrative reforms have often been undertaken. What is needed is a national land policy that encompasses rural and urban areas. While the Bank's experience and new structure provides a good basis for addressing these challenges, the new challenges posed by these situations require greater emphasis on impact evaluation to be able to not only identify what works and what does not but also to make corrections in the context of project implementation.
  • Interest in global indicator for land policy: Although there has long been interest in indicators that would allow an actionable assessment of countries' land policy and institutional structure, the recent decision by MCC to include an indicator for land policy and land access as one of the criteria to determine country eligibility, has provided a significant opportunity to give visibility to this issue and to influence the policy agenda. While the indicators that have been used in this year's selection on a provisional basis cover all the major areas, there is considerable scope to improve their accuracy and credibility by gradually replacing subjective ratings with hard data and by linking assessments of the de jure legal situation with analysis of the de facto situation on the ground.

In line with these, the workshop has the following objectives:

  • Provide a basis for coordination and share innovative experience: As in previous years, the meeting aims to use the presence of a wide range of distinguished experts to obtain an update on the status of a number of important global and regional initiatives and to discuss how, building on different agencies' comparative advantage, synergies between them can be maximized. Areas to be focused on include new approaches to (low-cost) registration of customary land and of interests less than title, the functioning of land markets in the context of economic transformation, land policy and private sector development, and ways to improve governance in land administration.
  • Establish a basis for better impact evaluation: Although demand for improving land administration is growing and a number of innovative tools are being developed, failure to subject these to a rigorous impact evaluation would seriously impair the ability to replicate (or even recognize) successes or to quickly modify approaches that do not deliver the promised results. To help address this, the meeting will feature presentations on methodology and feasible approaches to include impact evaluation in existing projects that can serve as examples for others, with the goal of possibly integrating a more formal evaluation function into existing networks such as the GLTN.
  • Set out an approach for moving towards a global land tenure indicator: Given the complexity of the issues involved, and the important role that could be played by the networks and institutions at the meeting to help make a more quantitative land tenure indicator operational, it will be important to obtain feedback and suggestions on an early proposal that will be discussed at the meeting.

 




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