Political will and skills development essential for good land governance

Addis Ababa, 20 April 2016 (ECA) – “The 2030 Agenda (Sustainable Development Goals) cannot be achieved without the introduction of modern land management systems accompanied by good land governance,” said the President of Ethiopia, Mr. Mulato Teshome in his opening remarks at the Fourth High Level Forum on United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management.

The Forum, jointly organised by the Government of Ethiopia, the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) brings together approximately 10 government ministers from Africa, Asia, Pacific and South America and 400 participants to discuss the role of good land governance in the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

“An Africa of good governance is what we want. A peaceful and secure Africa cannot be realised unless we ensure good land governance in our continent,” reiterated Mr. Teshome who also noted that Africa needs to deliver accurate geospatial information if it is to achieve sustainable development.

Ethiopia’s Commissioner of National Planning, Mr. Yinager Dessie Belay echoed the Ethiopian president’s remarks by noting the important role land plays in the development of Africa. He encouraged countries to “understand the potential of good land governance.” If not managed properly, land can be a source of conflict, he warned. Lack of land management can fuel instability in Africa.

Mr. Oliver Chinganya, the Director of the African Centre for Statistics at ECA remarked that “access to land is part of human endeavour and achievement but land is a limited resource.”

“To manage a resource we need to know what we have, we need the inventory of the resource,” he said encouraging African countries to map their lands to increase the mapping rate from the current 2.4 per cent.

The importance of geospatial information is being recognised everywhere in Africa. According to Chinganya, it is therefore desirable for member states to help steer the future development of geospatial information and its application.

Mr. Greg Scott, from the UN Statistics Division and UNGGIM Secretariat, catalogued the SDG areas geospatial information can have a role in, such as food security, water, sanitation and hygiene, gender equality, sustainable agriculture, cities and human settlements, land degradation and bio -diversity loss.

Representing the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies, Mr Christiaan Lemmen, observed that 70% of people-to-land relationships at a global level are informal or not known. “Many relationships are not recognised, meanwhile populations and cities are growing, leading to disputes and conflicts.” He believes governments can use geospatial information to can secure land tenure for citizens.

The panellists agreed that political willingness and capacity development are what is now needed to implement a full geo-spatial information management system that can assist Africa in planning and implementing its development.

The conference continues until Friday, 22 April, and will include discussions on regulatory frameworks, land information data needs for SDGs and technology capacity development.


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Economique Commission for Africa
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