January 16, 2015
By Jane W. Katz, Director of International Affairs & Programs, Habitat for Humanity International
As the UN begins to define the Post 2015 Development Agenda, an ad hoc coalition of concerned organizations has joined together to address a major omission in the Open Working Group Proposal on Sustainable Development Goals and the Secretary-General Synthesis Report on the Post 2015 Development Agenda: the lack of attention to security of tenure and equitable access to land. This omission is especially concerning as it relates to the most vulnerable populations in both urban and rural contexts. The coalition has developed a new technical brief titled Secure and Equitable Land Rights in the Post 2015 Agendahighlighting the critical need for secure and equitable land rights be included in the Post 2015 Development Agenda. The brief takes a particular focus on those living in poverty and ensuring that monitoring progress on land rights is measurable and feasible based on the organizations’ and communities’ experiences.
Access to land often lies at the heart of poverty housing, depriving the poor of the most basic physical, economic and psychological security of adequate shelter. Huge numbers of the people in need of adequate housing struggle on a daily basis with tenure security and fear of eviction. An even greater number lack proper documentation of the land on which they live. Improving access to land can address inequalities, reduce poverty, and increase economic growth in developing countries. It can provide opportunities for investment and the accumulation of wealth and, in some cases, it can encourage business development. More than improving economic conditions, access to land can provide a source of identity, status and political power, and can serve as a basis for the pursuit of other rights.