Last Thursday concluded an event sixteen years in the making – the 2015 World Bank Land and Poverty Conference. The final ceremony marked the participation of 1,200 participants paying a registration fee of up to $700 to attend what was once a dream by its founder Klaus Deininger and last week ably co-organized by Thea Hilhorst and Nisma Elias. While the World Bank will always have its detractors, the ability of a single researcher in the Development Economic Research Group (DECRG) to create a landmark event for the world’s leading land rights researchers, practitioners and implementers of land management solutions is a notable achievement.
Thomson Reuters is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Land and Poverty Conference. We have supported this event through sponsorships for the last four years and participated through our former company, International Land Systems (ILS), acquired in 2011. The Land and Poverty Conference is the world’s leading venue to share our work in countries such as Jamaica, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda . We demonstrated the results of our donor and direct-to-government projects and how on-going relationships have influenced the development of our Aumentum land management solution to make it ever more configurable and globally “fit-for-purpose”
Several of the learning sessions I attended debated the Three S decision framework based on Security, Scalability and Sustainability. Others discussed a future in which land systems would be considered societal and economic utilities which garner interest by international and local investors. A new Innovation Fair and our Aumentum booth allowed our team members from Jamaica, Mexico, Russia and South Africa to demonstrate our mobile Valuation application and other new tools we are planning. Our Managing Director for Government, Joe Jackson, co-hosted a leaders luncheon with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Sr. Director, World Bank. Our Product Management team was able to compare notes on promising community based and crowd sourcing techniques that can provide an impetus for more formal government-managed systems.
A busy and productive week indeed.
By creating value for which attendees were willing to pay, by inviting new actors and viewpoints to find common solutions, and by attracting private sector investment; the Land and Poverty Conference has grown exponentially since the first gathering of only 20 participants in 1999 to an event in which 123 countries were represented this past week. Can the lessons learned from the Conference’s evolution be transferred to donor projects discussed throughout the week?
This year we also prepared a ‘master class’ to enable the sharing of local experiences and best practices at a government office which implemented a technology we featured during the Conference. The staff of Arlington County energetically discussed their work, which includes using ProVal, a Thomson Reuters computer aided mass appraisal (CAMA) solution. Forty representatives from seventeen countries saw first-hand the economic growth a community only a few miles from World Bank headquarters can achieve when highly skilled staff is supported by tax paying citizens who recognize and demand the benefits of modern information technology.
Land is a cross-cutting enabler of poverty alleviation. Ultimately, donor projects must lead to the type of sustainable land information and management solutions found in donor countries. Sustainable land management systems must become not only a talking point, but also a reality. Given short duration projects and declining budgets, donors should consider public-private partnerships to build sustainable land management systems that use the most modern technologies, offer the best techniques to collect the tax revenue required to maintain those systems and, in so doing, improve the economic conditions of the communities and countries they serve.
We are grateful the Land and Poverty Conference embraces all organizations working to improve the lives of the world’s poor through improved land and property rights management. If the World Bank continues to provide this unique global forum for spirited debate and learning- open to both the public and private sector- I am enthusiastically looking forward to 2016.