Improving tenure rights through tools and partnerships — the network effect

It has been an interesting and intense week of strategic planning at the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) partner's forum at The Hague. The Network was set up in 2008 under the UN Habitat with the objective of improving land and tenure rights. Over the last five years it has invested in tool development and engaged partner agencies in the training and delivery of capacities at the international, regional and national level.

The alliance of over 60 members (ranging from academic institutions to local NGOs and funding agencies) is now evaluating the opportunities on extending the geographical outreach of GLTN with relevant tools (the major presence has been in Africa) as well as expanding the scope beyond gender rights, food security, youth rights and rural development to include themes such as urban land rights, finance, housing and climate change. Some of the member agencies are Cities Alliance, UNESCAP/FAO, Habitat for Humanity, Institute of Housing Studies, Gates Foundation, Slum Dweller International, Huairou Commission and University of Twente.

The community on just and inclusive cities would make an interesting platform to offer perspective and comments on some of the ongoing issues and discussions highlighted below:

  • Governments in Latin America are known to be more progressive on improving security of tenure. What lessons can be taken, experiences adapted and how to avoid duplication of ongoing efforts?
  • How diverse are the land security issues for more urbanized (Latin America) or rapidly urbanizing regions such as Asia. What should be the nature of the dialogue for the Pacific Islands?
  • Should the dialogue and advocacy of improving tenure be undertaken at the national or subnational level with cities and local government? We know Benjamin Barber (Author: If Major's Ruled the World”) would have a strong opinion on this issue!
  • What are some existing networks and coalitions operating in Asia, Pacific and Latin America that can be leveraged and mobilized for interventions on improving security of tenure?
  • As an alliance are there agencies that would be interested play ann anchor role in leading the dialogue at the country or regional level? Should this include non traditional partner agencies and invite private sector agencies and businesses?

The GLTN partnership network has the potential to be an instrumental platform at local, national, regional and global level - one that brings together diverse interests and players with a common mission to enable and empower communities to move up the 'ladder of tenure rights' with positive impact on housing, finance, gender, climate change, food security and other social goals. The expansion of scope and geography while adding to the strength of the Network would require a movement and dependence away from the Secretariat based in Nairobi. It would need a more enabling structure where perhaps subgroups focus and connect more closely together. It would require a bottom-up effort where leadership by interested agencies steps in to define the agenda, mobilize the funding and facilitate the growth of the network to impact national policy on tenure security. This task could not be a one-person/agency show either at the international or national level.

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