21 June 2017: A policy brief by the Global Donor Working Group on Land discusses renewed global commitment to strengthen tracking of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 1.4.2 on land tenure security. Ongoing activities include a series of expert consultations convened by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the World Bank – the custodian agencies of SDG indicator 1.4.2 on land tenure security – that have so far reached consensus on a measurement methodology for the indicator. This work seeks to pave the way for its reclassification as a Tier II indicator at the next meeting of the Inter-Agency Expert Group on the SDGs (IAEG-SDGs), scheduled for October 2017.
SDG indicator 1.4.2 measures “the proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.” Currently classified as a Tier III indicator due to insufficient conceptual clarity on the measurement methodology and the lack of baseline data, land experts had expressed concern that 1.4.2 could be “dropped” from the SDG agenda. The policy brief notes that concerted effort is needed over the coming months to ensure that indicator 1.4.2 is “definitely incorporated into the formal SDG monitoring process.”
The Global Donor Working Group on Land has set up an informal multi-stakeholder committee known as “the Friends of the Custodians,” to help the World Bank and UN-Habitat to achieve re-classification of this indicator from Tier III to Tier I by October 2018. Donors and other stakeholders further expect that reclassifying indicator 1.4.2 will contribute to a more favorable environment for global investments in data collection on land tenure security.
Two custodian agencies convened an expert consultation at World Bank headquarters in Washington DC, US on 13 June 2017, as part of a series of meetings to encourage the involvement of National Statistical Organizations (NSOs) and other stakeholders in the development of a measurement methodology. The meeting reached consensus on a set of household survey questions to be included in global and national-level surveys to track progress towards tenure security for all.
The policy brief explains that by proposing to both assess progress by governments in documenting and recognizing land and tenure rights and track how people perceive the security of their rights, indicator 1.4.2 “acknowledges the existence of a continuum of land rights.” This approach, notes the publication, is consistent with other land governance frameworks, such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), and the Framework and Guidelines for Land Policy in Africa.
Making the case for a more robust indicator, UN-Habitat notes that an estimated two billion people worldwide may be tenure insecure, and for some regions such as Africa, 90% of the continent’s land is unregistered. The report stresses that the systematic measurement of tenure security is critical for informed policy making, especially “given the inextricable link between securing property rights and ending poverty and inequality.”
Summarizing the key outcomes of the expert consultation, UN-Habitat highlights several additional steps that need to be taken before 1.4.2 “can get over the hurdle.” These include: agreeing on the administrative data that national land agencies will need to supply to satisfy the “legal documentation” component of the indicator; and compiling of results from national surveys and pilots conducted by NGOs to demonstrate that the proposed methodology for measuring this indicator has been tested. The report notes that these results will be presented to the IAEG-SDGs meeting in October, “to show that collecting 1.4.2 data is feasible and already being implemented by a core set of countries.”
As part of this process, the Custodians are coordinating efforts to gather data from relevant surveys, including World Bank’s LSMS surveys, UN Habitat-led urban inequities surveys and other specialized land survey pilots, impact evaluations of USAID and Millennium Challenge Corporation land governance programs, and diverse global surveys.
The Friends of the Custodians group is made up of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Global Affairs Canada, Millennium Challenge Corporation, International Land Coalition, Omidyar Network and Global Land Indicators Initiative. The group is providing support to mobilize resources and capacities for expert group meetings, while also coordinating with donors and other stakeholders on gathering critical information, such as evidence on survey methodologies, in order to satisfy the criteria for achieving Tier II and, eventually, Tier I status.
The Global Donor Working Group on Land is one of the working groups of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, which brings together 24 national and multilateral donors and expert agencies with a focus on the land sector.