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
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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