November 2007  -  Announcement of a publication

Good governance in land tenure and administration

FAO Land Tenure Studies 9


This guide is written for people who work in land administration and all those with an interest in land, land tenure and their governance. Although much has been written about the importance of good governance in achieving development goals, there is comparatively little material on good governance in land tenure and administration. Failings in governance have adverse consequences for society as a whole. By contrast, good governance can help achieve economic development and the reduction of poverty. Good governance matters.

Land is the single greatest resource in most countries. Access to land, security of tenure and land management have significant implications for development. Land administration provides important parts of the infrastructure for an efficient economy, which means that it touches all aspects of how people earn a living. Land administration through taxes on land plays a significant role in raising revenue for public finances. Through registration and cadastre systems, land administration provides security of tenure and allows people to obtain loans through mortgages. Yet formal land administration systems commonly fail. Customary land tenure arrangements also may not adequately serve citizens – especially when those arrangements are weakened by transition and commercialization.

Weak governance, whether in formal land administration or customary tenure arrangements, means that the land rights of the poor are not protected. It affects the poor in particular and may leave them marginalized and outside the law. Weak governance may also mean that land is not used appropriately to create wealth for the benefit of society. Lack of competence in land administration can be an important constraint on development and the eradication of poverty. Good governance in land administration is one of the central requirements for achieving good governance in society.

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© FAO, 2007