Not only is a fair distribution of gains and losses necessary, but also urban planning requires secure land rights, transparent planning processes and fair transfers. Land is increasingly seen as a source for taxation in the international quest to increase the rate of government revenue.

Digitisation of land use management

The theme of the World Bank conference hints to another megatrend, that fosters interest in land: innovations, in particular Information and Communication Technology (ICT). What has been handled manually and at great costs of measuring and registering in rich countries for centuries now sees a wave of technologies to facilitate, improve, accelerate and automate the processes involved. High-resolution satellite and aerial pictures by planes and drones, smart hand maps emerging from participatory or other planning exercises, platforms with easy access by many stakeholders, graphical surfaces, high-precision nets of global positioning systems and mobile telephone networks combined with cheap devices all contribute to the rush of national and local administrations, donors and civil society organisations to use the new technologies to delineate land property, land use and land use planning.

Property rights and their impact on the most vulnerable

Overall, there is a clear trend to individualise land tenure, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where formally, the state is often the major owner, while informally it is traditional chiefs, clan and larger family chiefs.