News & Events

Upcoming Event

May 31-June 1, 2017
New America in Washington, D.C.

Driving Change, Securing Tenure: Innovations in Land & Property Rights

A new series of ISS case studies profiles recent initiatives to strengthen tenure security and reform land registration systems in seven countries: South AfricaCanadaJamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Australia and Tanzania.

Marking the launch of this series, New America’s Future of Property Rights initiative is hosting a two-day workshop to highlight key lessons and provoke thinking about implications for property rights innovations around the world.

Day 1, Wednesday, May 31, features TED-style presentations from the case protagonists—the people who actually led the reforms—as well as an expert panel discussion about new practices and technologies in land and property rights.  Day 1 will be live-streamed.

Day 2, Thursday, June 1, brings together a group of educators and practitioners to build a global network around property rights case teaching and development.

Widner appointed to Commission on State Fragility, Growth, and Development

ISS Director and Professor of Politics and International Affairs Jennifer Widner has been appointed to a new Commission on State Fragility, Growth, and Development, chaired by former UK Prime Minister David  Cameron. The Commission, hosted by the International Growth Center (LSE) and the Blavatnik School at Oxford, will guide policy on economic growth in fragile and conflict situations. Along with Mr. Cameron, the Commission will be co-chaired by Dr. Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank and currently the Special Envoy of the African Union Peace Fund, and Dr. Adnan Khan, Research and Policy Director of the International Growth Centre. Professors Tim Besley (LSE) and Paul Collier (Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government) will be the Commission’s academic directors. In addition, eight leading figures from the public sphere, academia, and the private sector will serve as commissioners. The Commission will be launched under the auspices of the International Growth Centre in March 2017 and run until June 2018. 

Read the full press release here.


March 2017

Mozambique Puts Rural Communities on the Map

Without any official recognition of their property rights many of Mozambique's rural communities risked losing access to their lands. To address the problem, a group of donors established the Community Land Initiative (iniciativa para Terras Comunitárias, or iTC), a program to help communities register parcels in the government cadastre and negotiate with potential investors. Working alongside national and local governments as well as nongovernmental organizations, the iTC mapped communal lands, educated people about their land rights, resolved boundary disputes, and created producer associations to support budding commercial farmers. The iTC further worked with provincial cadastral offices to issue certificates that specified property boundaries. By mid 2016, the program had registered 655 communities---nearly four times the estimated 171 community registrations carried out before the iTC was established.

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Community gathering to mark DUAT certification. Photo by Xavier Lucas.

Cementing the Right of Ownership in Kyrgyzstan

In 1999, eight years after emerging from decades of Soviet domination, Kyrgyzstan launched an ambitious effort to officially recognize property ownership throughout the country and lay the groundwork for a vibrant real estate market. The government established a new land agency, known as Gosregister, to register and document property rights. Set-up as a self-supportingagency, Gosregister hired and trained staff in completely new responsibilities, established performance management structures, introduced new technologies to improve efficiency, and instituted procedures to ensure that staff did not engage in corruption. Despite political upheaval---including the overthrow of two governments in the space of five years---Gosregister steadily built its capacity and evolved into an effective land registry. By 2012, the agency had registered 92% of the country's privately held parcels, and in 2017, the World Bank's Doing Business rankings recognized its services as among the best in the world.

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Houses in the Monwabisi Park settlement outside Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo courtesy of the Cape Town Project Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Incremental Tenure in Cape Town, South Africa

Slum upgrading is a challenge for many cities in the rapidly urbanizing global south. In 2009 South Africa's second-biggest metropolis, Cape Town, partnered with a program called Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading to pilot an in situ settlement upgrade that allowed people to remain in their homes. Through an incremental tenure approach, the municipal government issued occupancy certificates that recognized residents' rights to remain on the land, protected against arbitrary eviction, and laid the groundwork for eventual access to the services enjoyed by citizens in legal housing. The pilot focused on Monwabisi Park, a community of about 25,000. After a full enumeration of land, structures, and occupants, the project helped construct a community register, issue occupancy certificates, and extend electric power throughout the area. By November 2016, the first phase of the project was complete and hundreds of residents visited the community registration office every month to update their details. With their new city-issued occupancy certificates, Monwabisi Park residents could purchase cell phone plans, register their children in schools, and receive health services. Despite continued obstacles to rezoning and extension of water and sewerage infrastructure, Monwabisi Park offered important lessons on how to improve living conditions for the very poorest citizens.

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ISS Featured Interview

In April, ISS will release a series of case studies on the public management challenges associated with the 2014 West Africa Ebola Outbreak. Sadly, Hans Rosling, whose interview contributed to this series, passed away recently. During a career of public service worldwide, Rosling helped improve the lives of people affected by nutrition-linked diseases and contain infectious disease outbreaks.Together with his son, Rosling, an advocate for evidence-based policy, developed Gapminder, an online tool for visualizing policy data.

Upcoming Event: Innovations in Property Rights and Land Administration

May 31-June 1, 2017
Washington, D.C.
Marking the launch of our new series of case studies about innovative practices and technologies in the land sector, we're hosting a two-day workshop to highlight key lessons and provoke thinking about implications for tenure security around the world. Co-sponsored by the Omidyar Network and New America Foundation, the event will feature insights from reform leaders, critical discussion with experts, and sessions focused on property rights case development and teaching. Sign up here to receive more details.

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Innovations for Successful Societies (ISS) is a joint program of Princeton University's
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs 
and the Bobst Center for Peace & Justice.




This free, online course led by ISS Director and Professor of Politics & International Affairs, Jennifer Widner, begins February 1st and runs through April 1st. Enroll now at EdX.

Length: 9 weeks
Effort: 3-5 hours per week
Institution: PrincetonX
Languages: English
Video Transcripts: English, Burmese