This week,the 11thsession of the Working Party on Land Administration convenes in Geneva, Switzerland. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) hosts the event and it will discuss the megatrends impactingland administration, such as, new business ecosystems, urbanization, climate change, disruptive technology, migration, etc. This pressure is amplified by new and more advanced expectations from citizens and the society, expanding state priorities where land administration is part of a complex interdisciplinary environment, growth of the data economy and digital culture as well as reduced government spending on state services.
We spoke with Rik Wouters, Bureau Member of the Working Party for Land Administration and Senior Land Expert at Kadaster International, to get his insights.
1) What is the goal of the 11thsession of the Working Party on Land Administration? What are the objectives of such a meeting?
Every second year, the Working Party on Land Administration organizes a session to look back on the achievements which the present programme of work, as well as to provide updates on upcoming work for the coming years, addressing specialized and specific topics. More specifically, this Eleventh Session of the Working Party on Land Administration (WPLA) aims to provide an international platform for a high-level exchange on issues related to land administration and management. Attendees will discuss how UNECE can continue to work to improve land management and land administration practices throughout its region. Also, the event will incorporate the needs and priorities of land administration in the UNECE region in support of Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda.
2) Can you give us some background as to your involvement with the Working Party in Land Administration?
Until recently, I have acted as the Vice-Chair of the Bureau of the Working Party on Land Administration. I am involved in a variety of task groups, including land consolidation, future scenarios in Land Registry and Cadastre, Formalization of informal settlements and benchmarking cost/fees/tax in real estate transaction and surveying and mortgaging.
3) Can you tell us more about your role as the Domain Leader Land Registry for the Taskforce of Greece?
I was responsible for the technical assistance to Greece under the auspices of the Task Force for Greece. Between 2010-2014 we were active in Greece with a group of experts. Greece is the only European state without a national cadaster and the European Union and International Monetary Fund identified the lack of legal certainty about property rights in the country as a major barrier to investment, proper taxation and economic development.
4) What do you feel are the most pressing issues in terms of land administration in the UNECE region at the moment?
The UNECE region is quite diverse, so setting the same terms for the whole region is definitely a challenge, but some of the commonalities include cadastre and land registry being part of an ecosystem in real estate and related domain in the western part of Europe and the further perfecting of the registers in some of the countries in the eastern part. We continue to support the initiatives on SDG’s and the Urban Agenda 2030. We not only focus on the urban areas but also on (the development of) of rural areas, and the interaction between these areas.