I write this blog as our project team embarks on a fifth year of work on women’s land tenure security (WOLTS) with pastoral communities in mining-affected areas of Mongolia and Tanzania. Just before Christmas 2019, we were in Mundarara village in northern Tanzania. Exceptionally heavy rains made getting around much more challenging than usual. Locals travelling on foot had to make wide detours to avoid getting bogged down in waterlogged grazing land, and it took everyone much longer to get to the village primary school for our long-planned training day.
Today we are pleased to mark the official launch of PlaceFund, an independent US nonprofit organization focused on addressing issues of insecure property rights, unsustainable land use, and climate change. Built off a decade as the Property Rights initiative at Omidyar Network, PlaceFund will operate under the leadership of Peter Rabley and Amy Regas, who will be leaving Omidyar Network to run this venture, and they will take our shared commitment to property rights and geospatial technology into the new decade.
Author: Priti Darooka  with contributions by Farida Akhter
I want to thank IWRAW Asia Pacific for organising a two day strategic dialogue on Women Human Rights and Climate Justice. Some of the points shared here are points discussed at this dialogue in Bangkok in November 2019.
I also want to thank contributions by Feminist Land Platform members, especially Farida Akhter of Bangladesh.
At CFS 46, the Land Portal had the opportunity to be the co-organizer of the side event How the VGGT have changed rural women’s lives: Key strategies and innovations towards gender equality together with GLTN Unit UN-Habitat, the Cadasta Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This side event brought together a range of experts who illustrated efforts aimed at ensuring women’s land rights through both formal institutions and customary systems.
On 24 and 25 September 2019, Heads of State and Governments will gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the summit Accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is a crucial event for evaluating progress towards the 17 goals and 169 ambitious targets countries have set to eradicate poverty, achieve food security, empower women, secure the planet and foster peace and stability.
Increasingly, governments and citizens in developing countries as well as development agencies are using information technology to improve governance, shape government-citizen relations, and reduce corruption. Despite this, we continue to be at the first phases of understanding how to best use these new data sources in anti-corruption work, as well as appreciating the challenges and limitations inherent in them.
At the Land Portal, we are always trying to align with other open initiatives, and Wikidata is one of them. Wikidata was created as a central collaboratively edited knowledge base, adding semantics to the pieces that conforms it so computers can understand the relationships between these pieces. This solution is addressing the issue of updating/creating the same knowledge in different language’s wikipedias, where you had to go one by one in order to edit and change it.
Land is a topic that is debated in many languages, across different (academic) disciplines and in all parts of the world. Furthering our collective agenda, sharing and learning from knowledge and perspectives from other contexts, or transitioning technological innovations from one country to the other is complicated by - among many other aspects - language and terminology barriers. Many attempts have been made in the past to find common definitions and terminologies for issues related to land, but a wide consensus or adoption has never been reached. Understandably so: one can only imagine the heated and controversial discussion to reach agreement on what we mean exactly when we use the word ‘property’. It simply does not have the same meaning in each country or context. It is a daunting and arguably impossible task to reach this global consensus
Hundreds of land practitioners from around the globe gathered and came together at the 2019 LANDac Conference at the beginning of July with the purpose of looking at land governance from the lens of transformation and in particular, how to support transformation that works for people and nature. The conference delved into questions such as the long-term dynamics around land, water and food production and promising concepts and tools for building learning and knowledge building about these dynamics.
At this year' Global Landscape Forum (GLF 2019), one message was loud and clear: diversity is key to restoration and sustainable landscape management, more specifically the emphasis on a variety of viewpoints and stories, is what will help us reach our goals!
In the past decade, significant international attention focused on “land grabs” in developing countries by companies and others hungry for land to grow food and procure resources for the world’s growing population.
The ‘age of ignorance’
For a long time land governance, land tenure and land rights remained in the ‘age of ignorance’. We have known for some time that land governance is a key ingredient for social, economic and environmental development; what was missing, however, was the data. With the little information available to us at the time, we set priorities and crafted interventions for our course of work. Relying on a few rough figures meant that we were often repeating mantras and slogans based on loose, rather than on hard and reliable facts. Most notable among these was the often repeated and now widely disputed, “women own 2% of the world’s land”.