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Learning Series: Leveraging Land for Delivery of Services, Building the Social Contract and Promoting Peace and Security

The Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) and the Land, Housing, and Shelter Section of UN-Habitat, organized a series of learning sessions on the theme Leveraging Land for Delivery of Services, Building the Social Contract and Promoting Peace and Security. The sessions were held virtually from September 2020 to February 2021 convening over 60 participants from over 20 different institutions/organizations for each session. The organizations that participated in the series were international organizations, government institutions, NGOs, Universities, and Development Partners working on Land-based finance. The series covered the following topics: 1. Leveraging Land: Why, What, How?; 2. Leveraging Land Initiatives by GLTN and UN-Habitat Partners: Purpose, Methods, Progress, Lessons; 3. Strategies and Tools for Financing Affordable Housing, Participatory Slum Upgrading and Equitable Delivery of Services; 4. Leveraging Land for Peace, Security and Building the Social Contract.

The main objective was to bring together partners, academics, practitioners, and implementers to build a Community of Practice (CoP) around advances, mobilization of good practices, innovations and challenges, in leveraging land for improved service delivery and local governance. This CoP will build on its experience in promoting normative standards, developing and testing fit-for-purpose approaches and tools, and developing implementation capacities at country level. As such it tried to identify common-ground, opportunities for collaboration of different actors and knowledge gaps which require further research and verification. Experiences and lessons learnt in the development and application of different Land-Based Finance (LBF) tools were shared by GLTN partners and other participating organizations and institutions including: Development Action Group (DAG), Global Fund for Cities Development (FMDV), International Center for Tax and Development (ICTD), Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), University of Toronto, UN-Habitat, the World Bank and numerous independent consultants and experts.

Participants in the series acknowledged that LBF is not only a technical but also a political process. Political commitment in LBF is a cornerstone of a strong, transparent, and equitable system through which revenue can be raised and where citizens can hold local and national governments accountable for the delivery of services, adequacy and affordability of housing, upgrading of slums/informal settlements, etc. Nevertheless, further research is needed to understand how to incentivize local authorities to leverage land more optimally. Participants and presenters agreed on the importance of encouraging and strengthening multi-level dialogues and mobilizing local and central governments to build capacity around LBF tools and concepts for creating synergies and ensuring far-reaching impact. Emphasis was placed on the need to understand the relevance of both market- and non-market-based estimates of land value in specific contexts. Enabling contextualization of appropriate fit-for-purpose LBF approaches is essential, especially in the developing world where formal land registration is still a significant challenge, resulting in the predominance of informal land markets. Through this understanding, localized capacity can be developed through the introduction of flexible, inclusive/participatory and affordable systems and technologies as key drivers of change. A further insight was that land and property tax reforms should establish equitable, flexible, transparent and participatory processes, aimed at achieving reforms in land services, adequate and affordable housing, slum upgrading and the provision of basic services.

In the next four sessions of the learning series, UN-Habitat aims to collaborate with partners in the CoP, more deeply to understand and apply the above insights to specific, active cases.