The COVID-19 crisis has made 2020 the most challenging year in our lifetime. It has demonstrated the need to ensure that sustainable and equitable land governance remains a priority on the international agenda. The pandemic also underscored the importance of digital platforms for both maintaining access to data and information and providing a space people can trust.
Over the past few months, the Land Portal Foundation, as a totally digital organization, pivoted to this new reality and provided innovative solutions to continue engagement of the land sector and beyond through dynamic webinars and virtual conferences. We are grateful for the confidence of so many partners in the Land Portal as we strive to elevate the voices of land stakeholders around the world.
Strong from the positive feedback of our users and partners - most of whom see the Land Portal as a source of innovation in the land sector - we have continued to make progress on the implementation of the Land Portal’s current strategy “Inform Open Debate”, which provides the framework for our work. The Land Portal serves to inform the land sector by improving documentation, mapping and monitoring of land governance and providing data, structured information, tools and services. The Land Portal is free and open to everyone and contributes to make land information more open and democratic. To the nearly 50,000 visitors who visit the Land Portal every month - most of which from the Global South - we want to say "stay tuned for the launch of our new 36 country portfolios, with a new compelling design and new content produced with the support of the Land Portal’s Local Knowledge Engagement Network.
We democratize the information ecosystem by making it more open and supporting the creation of standards-based data infrastructure while building the capacity of information providers to manage land information. In partnership with FAO we recently launched LandVoc 2.0 - the Linked Land Governance Thesaurus and established a community of experts to guide this work. Another recent highlight is the State of Land Information in South Africa report, which is the culmination of 2 years of investigation together with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa to unveil the country's land data ecosystem. In partnership with the Global Data Barometer in 2021 we will launch a land Module which will be offering a global analysis of policy and practice around responsible re-use of data. In 2021 we will also be working together with the Open Data Charter and GIZ to co-develop an Open Up Guide on land that identifies specific datasets that governments should make available as open data.
Finally, we promote, inform and enrich the global debate on key land issues, focusing on raising the visibility of national, regional and international partners. Together with a wide range of partners, we collaborated on two series of webinars focused on the impact of COVID-19 on land governance. The Effect of COVID-19 on Indigenous People’s Organizations and Local Communities as well as a webinar series and discussion on the Land Rights Implications of COVID-19 proactively collected anecdotes of the impact of this crisis and how to define a path forward. In support of LANDac, we facilitated the LANDac Online Encounter 2020, creating a dynamic virtual conference in lieu of this important annual event.
After 11 years of accompanying the Land Portal, Leon Verstappen, the Chair of our Board of Directors has stepped down. Leon is responsible for the Land Portal becoming an independent organization, leaving us with a strong legacy of transparency, participation and collaboration. We are sincerely grateful for his contributions and dedication to the success of the Land Portal. We also welcome three new members of the Board to the Land Portal: Professor Jaap Zevenbergen from the University of Twente, Chris Addison, an ICT and knowledge management expert, and Dr. Elizabeth Daley, a tenure specialist. The Board has elected Tim Fella as the new Chair of the Land Portal Foundation Board and Jaap Zevenbergen as our Treasurer.
Finally, we are pleased to announce that the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ) and GIZ have committed core funding to the Land Portal Foundation for the next several years. This commitment will help us to continue our work and to increase our engagement at the country level.
Thanks to all Land Portal partners, donors and users for your continued support and confidence in our work.
Land Portal Team Leader