Land Rights are Fundamental to Millennium Development Goals

Why are secure property rights and good land governance fundamental to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)? Earlier this month, a group of experts provided answers to this question – and worked to build support for a prominent role for land tenure security and property rights in a Post-2015 MDG framework – at a side event at the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

According to Dr. Gregory Myers, USAID Division Chief, Land Tenure and Property Rights, “the United States views land tenure and property rights as a critical element of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Secure property rights play a central role in supporting balanced and sustainable economic growth, encouraging investment, improving agricultural productivity, limiting conflict and instability, accelerating women’s economic empowerment, enhancing democratic governance and human rights, and improving natural resource management and biodiversity conservation.”

The international community has shown an increasing recognition of the centrality of land tenure and property rights to critical development issues. Earlier this year, the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda proposed a target on “secure rights to land, property, and other assets” as a building block for people to lift themselves out of poverty. They also placed a particular emphasis on land and property rights for women.

Landesa, a USAID partner in addressing land tenure and property rights issues, recently launched a new website devoted to advocating for the inclusion of secure land and resource rights in the Post-2015 MDG framework. Landesa, one of the leading advocates for this issue, also published an op-ed last month on Why Land Rights Should be Part of the Post-2015 Agenda.

According to the op-ed, “in the past, secure land rights were often overlooked by the development community, in large part because they are an invisible infrastructure. They are a critical foundation for building peaceful and prosperous societies, but hard to see and a challenge to measure. When these rights are secure however, other development interventions can take root. Moreover, they are a gateway right: communities, families, men and women who enjoy them can use them to realize other broader and often more tangible rights and goals.”

The Post-2015 MDG framework will guide global and national development priorities and help to galvanize development efforts for years to come. As a fundamental building block to much that the MDGs seek to achieve, secure land tenure and property rights should be central to the development agenda.


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