Secure land rights are important for development and poverty reduction and the greatest challenges for providing such rights are in urban, peri-urban areas, and the most productive rural areas. This publication updates and revises UN-HABITAT’s 2004 publication ‘Urban Land for All’, and stresses the need for policies that facilitate access to land for all sections of their existing and future populations – particularly those on low or irregular incomes. The paper begins by explaining what is meant by secure land rights for all, outlining the concept of tenure security and the range of types of land tenure that give access to land in various countries. It then moves on to discuss the importance of these rights, reviewing examples from around the world. The final part of the report explains the importance of land for government in greater depth, showing how policies, tenure options, land administration and development planning can be improved. The paper concludes that secure tenure and property rights have a direct role in the full realisation of human rights, including the right to shelter, the right to earn a livelihood and the elimination of discrimination against women, the vulnerable, indigenous groups and other minorities. It is noted that, despite the efforts of governments and international agencies, in practice the interests of the poor and vulnerable are often neglected. Renewed political will and improved incentives for central and local government are required to make land access secure for all against a background of climate change and environmental crises. Recommendations include that policy makers should:
recognise and protect land rights established under customary, religious and informal tenure systems and provide guarantees and legal remedies against arbitrary eviction without adequate compensation
adopt long-term, incremental approaches, with a range of tenure options to improve security of land and property rights for those in informal settlements and the rural poor
focus urgently on those peri-urban areas coming under pressure for rapid residential development and replacement of rural uses, in order to secure the rights of all land users and promote sustainable urbanisation
develop strategies to secure land rights across the urban-rural continuum, in response to four major inter-related trends: accelerated urbanisation, increasing migration, land use changes, and risks related to environmental degradation and climate change
review regulatory frameworks and remove or relax constraints on access to affordable land and housing
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