New UN Land Valuation Guide

20 December 2017

New UN Land Valuation Guide

New Food and Agriculture Organization guide to land valuation draws on Business School expertise

Pete Wyatt, Professor of Real Estate Appraisal in the Department of Real Estate & Planning at Henley Business School, has led a team of experts from around the world in creating a guide that will help tackle world hunger and poverty through improved land valuations. 

Valuations of tenure rights are required by the State and by the private sector for a wide variety of reasons, often forming and informing the basis of transactions, taxation, compensation and accounting. Value and the valuation process have a direct legal and financial impact on our everyday lives, and yet they are often shrouded in mystery and not clearly understood.

The ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security’ (VGGT) were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in May 2012 to provide guidance to improve the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests and have since then helped to raise awareness that secure tenure is critical for food security.

Professor Pete Wyatt said:

“In the past, the way people gain access to land is defined by systems of tenure rights, but these systems are under pressure due to population growth and an increasingly fragile environment.  
“The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) produced guidance on responsible governance of tenure and, to support this, I’m pleased to have supported the project to create technical guidance on how to value tenure rights which has just been published. It’s important to understand how we value these rights, as it can influence the economic development, wealth and prosperity of a society.”

By endorsing responsible governance and setting out principles and standards to assist stakeholders when establishing land tenure policy, the VGGT contribute to achieving sustainable livelihoods, social stability, housing security, rural development, environmental protection, and sustainable social and economic development. This is therefore important across a range of sustainable development goals. The Guidelines are meant to benefit all people in all countries, with an emphasis on vulnerable and marginalised people.

In the five years since the VGGT endorsement a number of technical guides have been prepared by technical specialists to develop capacity and assist in their implementation. Professor Pete Wyatt led the compilation of a technical guide on the valuation of land. Central to the technical guide, aimed predominantly at developing countries, is a set of recommendations for valuation that comply with international norms in relation to fairness, transparency, gender equality and free prior informed consent.

The technical guide was co-authored by 14 international valuation experts and provides examples of why land valuations are needed for food security as well as to protect social and religious activities, all of which are vulnerable to urban expansion, increased cultivation, climate change and conflict. It also lays out how valuations are undertaken in countries where land tenure rights might be formalised and in countries where land rights are customary.

To help better manage land – as a resource for sustainable use and as a habitat for protection – the guide explains how to consider its value both in purely economic terms and in wider social and environmental terms. It will be instrumental in developing capacities to improve tenure governance, by enabling valuation of tenure rights, and thereby assist countries in applying the VGGT.

The full guide is available on the FAO website.

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