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FAO and Russia deepen cooperation to improve access to land, tenure security

Project aimed at simplifying property registration in the country yields tangible results

Photo: ©FAO/Vasily Maksimov
Aerial view of forests in Tatarstan Republic, Russia.

26 January 2015, Rome - Russia's Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr) and FAO have agreed to enhance their cooperation aimed at improving the governance of land tenure.

During a meeting in Rome, organized by the UN agency, the World Bank and Rosreestr, the parties discussed good practices and key success factors in improving tenure security, as well as joint cooperation for the implementation of FAO's Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (Voluntary Guidelines).

Simplifying property registration in Russia

FAO has been heavily involved in the land reform work undertaken by the Russian Federation over the past 15 years, as part of a World Bank financed project, offering technical assistance in various areas, including information technology, spatial data infrastructure, property valuation and taxation. As a result of this joint effort, significant progress has been achieved in increasing the transparency of the property registration process and improving public services in Russia.

Thanks to new technology and other innovations, today any person in Russia can sign-up online to track the progress of land title requests or obtain electronically signed documents for any registered property in the entire territory of the Russian Federation.

The full online registration for all Rosreestr services became active in June 2015. Rosreestr is exchanging information in digital form with 40 different federal ministries and agencies through an Interdepartmental Electronic Interaction System. One benefit of this is that citizens conducting land registrations no longer need to themselves submit copies of documents issued by other government or municipal institutions that might be required. The time it takes to register property has decreased from 30 to 8 working days.

Multifunctional centers, which provide services on federal, regional and municipal levels, using a "One-Stop-Shop" principle, are widely spread across all regions of the Russian Federation. Two call centres are operating in nine time zones in several languages and offer 24/7 support to citizens. Public councils have been set-up in each of Russia's regions and at the federal level to discuss with people what can be done to improve public services, related to property registration.

Rosreestr has also introduced a better storage system for documents, and plans to build 8 centralized document archive facilities by 2019.

The joint project, which is closing at the end of February 2016, is part of a wider government effort to improve public service delivery and guarantee secure land tenure for individuals and businesses in Russia.

"These improvements are the result of good policy and broad public participation, creation of efficient organizational structure, putting in place modern laws and simplified procedures, innovation, and the implementation of the biggest unified cadastre and registration IT system in the world," said Marcela Villarreal, Director of FAO's Partnership, Advocacy and Capacity Development Division. "Following this positive experience, the best practises and know-how could be applied to other countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia as well as other regions around the globe".

"Rosreestr has a positive experience working with various international organizations, and our projects with the World Bank and FAO are among the priority ones, and most importantly - among the most successful ones. In the World Bank Group's Doing Business rating in terms of the ease of real property registration, Rosreestr moved up from the 51st place in 2011 to the 8th place in 2016, thereby increasing the investment attractiveness of our economy. We are interested in continuing collaboration and developing cross-border projects aimed at improving property registration," said Igor Vasiliev, head of Rosreestr.

Areas for future cooperation

At the meeting, Rosreestr and FAO identified several priority areas for future collaboration, including capacity development, joint innovation projects related to improving property valuation and methodology, and the use of high resolution satellite imagery, unmanned aerial vehicles and crowdsourcing platforms. Rosreestr expressed its readiness to promote awareness of the Voluntary Guidelines among other Russian ministries and agencies dealing with natural resources, such as forests and water.

Towards achieving the SDGs

At the meeting, FAO confirmed its interest in joining forces with various partners including governments, academia, the private sector, civil society and other UN agencies and development partners to support governments in implementing of the Voluntary Guidelines. Since secure land tenure supports improved food security and resilient rural livelihoods, adopting the Guidelines at country level is an essential step to meeting the SDGs and coping with climate change.

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