WASHINGTON, March 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Global
technology giants such as Google and Facebook must join the
battle for land rights and help spearhead an international
campaign to eradicate insecurity of tenure as if it were an
infectious disease, land experts told a World Bank conference.
Stig Enemark, professor emeritus of Land Management at
Denmark's Aalborg University, and British land reform expert
Robin McLaren said only 30 percent of the world population is
protected by official land administration systems leaving the
vast majority vulnerable to eviction and displacement.
They said the land sector needs to be more ambitious in its
goals, calling for a campaign to seek security of tenure for 80
percent of people by 2030 and involving new players to support
the fight for land rights.
"The global eradication of infectious diseases through
highly coordinated campaigns has been successful," the two men
said in paper delivered at the World Bank's Land and Poverty
Conference involving more than 1,200 land experts.
"Although insecurity of tenure is not a disease, its impact
is devastating in terms of trapping people in poverty,
displacing communities and making them homeless, and reducing
food security and creating hunger ... this is a human rights
Enemark and McLaren said at a time when some countries are
turning inward and ignoring the global challenges of the 21st
century, sparking renewed attention on communication and solving
global land issues has become even more important.
"Land professionals must not be complacent and need to
re-think and re-shape their message, providing clearer evidence
to politicians on the benefits of their land interventions and
investments," McLaren told a panel discussion.
"Global technology players such as Facebook and Google, for
example, need to be encouraged to support this campaign to
provide innovative technology solutions."
HIGH TECH SOLUTIONS
Facebook has already used artificial intelligence
software to scan 14.6 billion satellite images to identify
human-built structures in countries across Africa.
The social media network plan to use this information to
determine where drones offering internet connections could be
best deployed. The data, say experts, if shared could also be
applied to property rights projects.
The digital platform, Tomnod, is also using artificial
intelligence (AI) powered by crowdsourcing to automatically
identify features of interest in satellite and aerial imagery.
Tomnod, owned by Colorado-based satellite company
DigitalGlobe, has led crowdsourcing campaigns that have
attracted tens of thousands of volunteers around the globe,
including work to map populations across Ethiopia.
Enemark and McLaren said emerging technologies could be
potential "game changers" for land administration.
The United Nation's latest set of global goals, adopted in
2015, contain six goals relating to land, including a target for
all men and women to have equal rights to ownership and control
over land and other forms of property by 2030.
"This new agenda presents a historic and unprecedented
opportunity to bring the countries and citizens of the world
together to decide and embark on new paths to improve the lives
of people everywhere," McLaren said.
"The perfect storm of change has arrived. The time is right
to launch a global security of tenure campaign, but it requires
strong political will."
(Reporting by Paola Totaro, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith;
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