Land Rights and Land Value Capture
New Program Developed for UN Habitat's Global Land Tool Network
GroundSwell, May-June 2008]
The draft documents for the UN Habitat’s Global Land Tool
Network (GLTN) program on “Land Rights and Land Value
Capture” are now complete. This article gives background
information on the GLTN (from www.gltn.net), describes the several
components of the program material, and concludes with an overview of
the International Union for Land Value Taxation sponsored pilot
Background information: The GLTN originated from requests made by UN
Member States and local communities world-wide to the United Nations
Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), who initiated the network in
cooperation with the Swedish International Development Cooperation
Agency (Sida), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World
Bank, in 2006. The GLTN contributes to the implementation of pro poor
land policies to achieve secure land rights for all. The main
objective is to contribute to poverty alleviation and the Millennium
Development Goals through land reform, improved land management and
security of tenure. The core values of the GLTN are pro poor,
governance, equity, subsidiarity, affordability, and systematic large
scale approach as well as gender sensitiveness.
The GLTN has developed a global partnership on land issues, pulling
together global partners as well as many individual members. These
partners include international networks of civil society,
International Finance Institutions, international research and
training institutions, donors and professional bodies. The partners of
GLTN argue that the existing lack of these tools, as well as land
governance issues, are the main cause of failed implementation at
scale of land policies world wide.
GLTN aims to establish a continuum of land rights, rather than just
focus on individual land titling; improve and develop pro poor land
management as well as land tenure tools; unblock existing initiatives;
assist in strengthening existing land networks; improve global
coordination on land; assist in the development of gendered tools
which are affordable and useful to the grassroots; and improve the
general dissemination of knowledge about how to implement security of
The themes within GLTN are the following. 1. Land rights, records and
registration; 2. Land use planning; 3. Land Management, Administration
and Information; 4. Land law and enforcement; 5. Land Value
Taxation/Capture and; 6. Cross cutting issues.
The diagram below illustrates how the GLTN objectives, cross cutting
issues, themes and tools relate.
Currently the information on Land Value Taxation/Capture on the
GLTN site states:
Land value capture recovers the value that public spending on
services and infrastructure gives to land, distributing it to all
citizens equitably. When robustly implemented, land value capture
eliminates incentives for land speculation and hoarding. This
reduces and stabilizes land prices, keeping land accessible and
affordable for those who need it. By replacing harmful, unfair taxes
on production, exchange and wage labor, land value capture increases
wealth production while ensuring a fairer distribution of wealth
– both essential in order to dramatically reduce poverty.
Under formal contract with the GLTN this writer, Alanna Hartzok,
began development of the GLTN tool on Land Value Taxation/Capture in
January of 2007. An international team of Georgists from nine
countries volunteered to assist with the project. Our first task was
to write a short two-page descriptive brochure. The themes of this
brochure include: Justice: People’s Right to the Value
They Create; Clarifying Private and Public Land Rights; Bridging the
Gap Between Rich and Poor; Gender Rights Attainable Through
Equitable Land Access; Public Services and Facilities Can Pay for
Themselves; Decent, Affordable Shelter for All; Rational and
Balanced Development; and Implementation and Requirements for Land
Value Capture. The long brochure was drafted at nearly 30 pages in
length. Both the short and long brochures can be found at:
(Our team wrote SWOT analyses (strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities, threats) for past experiences with LVT implementation
or efforts made in Argentina, Australia, California (Wright Act),
Denmark, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Nigeria, Pennsylvania, Singapore,
Republic of South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tsingtao
(China), and Washington, DC, plus a substantial overall/global SWOT.
Compiled in the following categories are more than 300 quotes and
statements: economists; philosophers, statesman and other notables;
land ethic; country specific; and ancients, scriptural and
religious; and “notables on Henry George.”
The Center for the Study of Economics developed a “land
value capture calculator” that a town or city council or
even tax administrative officials of an entire country can use to
enter their own data and then elaborate different Land Value Capture
solutions. Descriptive material is included with the calculator.
The new online course was perhaps the most daunting and difficult
of the several components of the Land Rights and Land Value Capture
program. The five modules of the course, which will be
professionally developed into a state-of-the-art online learning
course when posted on the GLTN website, are currently as follows:
Module 1: Land Rights and Poverty.
Introduction * Thinking About Land Rights * Reasons for Claims to
Surface Land and Other Natural Resources * Concluding Quotes
Module 2: Land Prices and the Law of Land Rent.
The Problem of the Modern World * The Enclosures * The Problem of
Treating Land as a Market Commodity * Definitions of Basic Terms * The
Law of Land Rent * Addendum: More on Enclosures
Module 3: Land Value Capture: “Third Way”
Economics * Land Value Capture is a Sufficient Source of Public
Finance * Rent-Seeking * Real Estate Speculation and Land Price
Bubbles * Ancient Truths, Ancient Roots * Land Value Capture and
Improving Conditions of Slum Dwellers * Land Value Capture as a
Planning Tool * Land Value Capture Can Easily Fund Infrastructure *
Land Value Capture and Gender * Land Value Capture: Rural Land and
Agriculture * Tax Bads, Not Goods! – Integrated Green Tax Shift
* Land Value Capture and Climate Change
Module 4: Land Value Capture and the Economics of War and
Peace. Essentials of Economic Rent and a War
Economy * Privilege Fund Enables War System * Transforming the
Privilege Fund * Land Value Capture and Conflict Resolution * Israel
and Palestine * Jammu and Kashmir * Northern Ireland * Rwanda *
Chiapas, Mexico * Appalachian Region, United States * Decentralization
and Geo-Confederation * Policy Conclusions
Module 5: Implementation. Mobilizing Citizen Campaigns *
Land Titles * Using Information Technology * Components of a Land
Value Capture System * Gradual Shift and Revenue Neutral Initially*
Monitoring and Evaluation* Land Value Assessment * Principles of
Valuation * Factors Contributing to Land Value * Procedures for
Analysis of Data * Methods Used to Analyze and Assess Land Value *
Land Value Maps * Computer Estimated Land Values * Next Steps
This writer hereby gratefully acknowledges those who made
substantial contributions to the development of the GLTN Land Rights
and Land Value Capture program: Jeffrey Smith –
assistance with overall SWOT analysis and SWOTs for Singapore, South
Korea, Tsingtao (China), and Hong, Kong; Fernando Scornik
Gerstein wrote the SWOT for Argentina; Godfrey Dunkley, for
South Africa; Ole Lefmann, for Denmark; Fred Foldvary,
for Taiwan, and his writings also contributed to Module 4; Ed
Dodson for Pennsylvania; Walt Rybeck for Jamaica and Washington, DC;
Gordon Abiama for Nigeria and Tanzania; and Mario Cordero
worked on a SWOT analysis.
Annie Goeke was of tremendous assistance with pilot tests for the
online course, development of a student database and enrollment
forms, and administration of the student groups, with more than 40
people from 18 countries reviewing various components of the course
during the development phases; Bill Batt compiled charts, graphs and
other material; Bryan Kavanaugh contributed useful graphs as did
Tony Vickers and Matt Harris (“land value scapes”);
Karl Fitzgerald gave valuable contributions to the course; Roy
Langston contributed substantially to the development and editing of
the brochures; Peter Gibb, Heather Remoff, Pat Aller, and Leo Foley
also worked on brochure development; the research and writings of
Mason Gaffney contributed greatly to several components of the
online course, as did Ted Gwartney’s papers on land value
assessment; ArtieYeatman and Herb Goldstein of the School of Living
gave input for the Community Land Trust section.
Lindy Davies' material on the Law of Rent from the Henry George
Institute website is embedded in the second course module and his
improved graphics design of the Economics of War and Peace charts
are included in Module 4; Nic Tideman helped with the quotes
section, course module 3, and thinking through some details of the
implementation section; Peter Meakin and Dave Wetzel also made
helpful contributions as did Chuck Metalitz who gave useful input
for the course development.
Last but by no means least, Joshua Vincent and Eron Lloyd of the
Center for the Study of Economics made a substantial contribution by
developing the online calculator. All of this material
for the GLTN program on Land Rights and Land Value Capture is
currently in the process of editing and graphics design.
Meanwhile, this year of 2008 the International Union for Land Value
Taxation is sponsoring several modest pilot LVT projects. The object
is to put together and execute the various components necessary for a
successful template for implementation work. This groundwork is
expected to be quite useful for any future LVT implementation
We have set down targets and milestones and identified outputs for
these projects for the next ten months.
The Three Pilot Implementation Projects will be in Yenegoa,
Nigeria, Pretoria in the Republic of South Africa, and the Pacific
island nation of Vanuatu.
Karl Fitzgerald, who is employed full-time by Australian Georgist
organizations, will lead the Pilot Implementation Project in Vanuatu,
a string of more than 80 islands once known as the New Hebrides that
achieved independence from France and Britain in 1980. Australia, a
key donor, has pushed for good governance and economic reform in the
Most of the islands are inhabited, and most of the people live in
rural areas and practice subsistence agriculture. The economy has been
unable to grow fast enough to meet the needs of Vanuatu's expanding
population. The main sources of revenue are agriculture and
eco-tourism. The latter has brought increasing numbers of outsiders
who are buying real estate, so Vanuatu’s largest island in
particular – Espiritu Santo – is experiencing rapid land
Tax revenue is derived from import duties, and neither personal
income nor company profits are taxed. Vanuatu tightened up its tax and
regulatory systems after the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development warned that it could face sanctions if lax taxation
regimes were exploited by criminals for money-laundering, according to
the BBC’s website.
Fitzgerald has been communicating with Vanuatu’s
Minister for Justice who is now interested in exploring the
possibilities for land value taxation, and will travel to Vanuatu next
month to meet with him and others.
Republic of South Africa
Most Georgists are all aware of the background and historical
importance of LVT in RSA. Sangodairo Tunde, a young man who recently
completed the new Land Rights and Land Value Capture online course,
will work a part-time basis in association with DAG, a non-profit
organization in RSA that has major focus on movement building for LVT.
Godfrey Dunkley and Peter Meakin have agreed to provide input and
guidance to Sango, whose role will be to execute and report on
progress at each step of the Pilot Implementation Project for RSA. The
first step will be to clarify the most effective scope for this
project – how much to focus on a particular city or on the
national level. This decision will be finalized after the first month
of discussions and the several project components will center around
Yenegoa, a city of approximately 80,000 population, is described as “an
upcoming town and capital of Bayelsa State, located in the Niger Delta
of Nigeria” by Chiemezie Ole, who used the city as his case
study in his paper on “Efficient Use and Urban Water
Management – Challenges in Developing Countries.”
Bayelsa is the second largest oil producing state in the Niger Delta,
rightfully described as a “resource curse” region
of chronic poverty in a resource-rich area. Oil rent, of course, has
not trickled down to the benefit of the local people. But land values
in Yenegoa have been rapidly increasing during the past several years,
as is true of many if not most of the cities in resource-rich
developing countries. Although the city has a rudimentary and
highly inefficient and insufficient property tax, there is not yet a
perception that land rent could be an excellent source of public
finance for Yenegoa.
What Yenegoa does have is a strong Georgist presence in the
form of Gordon Abiama, who has taught the Henry George Institute
correspondence and online course in Progress and Poverty to many
students over the past several years. Gordon is a competent organizer
and activist who has worked for many years in his career as a
journalist. Gordon will direct the Yenegoa Pilot Implementation
Project. Gordon will be working on this project with student
volunteers and interns from Niger Delta University, which has its main
offices in Yenegoa and a campus nearby.
Here is the outline of objectives and goals for these LVT Pilot
Write and send announcements describing the two African projects to
leaders of our partner organizations – United African Congress,
Coalition for a Sustainable Africa, and the African Studies program at
the University of California Los Angeles. Invite their participation
and support. Invite those who have volunteered to work with Earth
Rights Institute to assist with these projects.
Compile lists of organizations including universities and other
institutions of learning, write and send project initiation
announcements to affiliated individuals who are most likely to be
interested in the project; describe the online course and the research
components; and invite their support and participation.
Compile lists of the relevant public officials, compose and send
letters to them that describe the project and request meetings with
Draft press releases; write, design and prepare to print
informational material for general distribution.
Send out the press releases. Arrange for media interviews wherever
Focus on promoting the online course and enrolling the first group of
students, putting them in small groups and assigning course
Begin organizing the research component starting with Phase One
implementation – recording the information that is available on
land ownership and land value, property and other taxes; evaluate the
quality of the information and determine whether or not it is
Make follow-up phone calls to current elected
public officials and leaders of key organizations to schedule meetings
with them during this month. Have nicely designed and printed
informational material in hand.
Promote the online course; enroll Group Two students. Continue
facilitating Group One and begin Group Two.
Start first stage development of GIS land value maps based on
Arrange for presentations about the project from the contact database
of individuals and organizations previously that received the project
Begin preparation of a Powerpoint presentation about LVT in general
and also using information specific to the Project.
Promote the online course; enroll Group Three students; continue
facilitating Groups One and Two while inviting Group One students to
begin to collaborate in the research component.
Further define and refine the research components of “who
owns what land where and what is its value.” Using the
online LVT calculator, determine with a rough estimate the amount of
potential land rent that could be taxed/captured for public benefit.
Promote, organize and conduct presentations and seminars wherever
possible in the project area.
Invite Group Two students to begin to collaborate in the research
component and in other ways organize their active participation in the
implementation project. Continue facilitation of the three groups.
Continue development of the research components. Post the results of
the research to date on a website. Include land value maps and a
tax shift scenario.
Further define and develop the plan for policy implementation.
Set a date and arrange a place and announce a three-hour long seminar
that all online course students will be invited to attend.
Set a date, arrange a place and announce a 90-minute long seminar for
public officials and leadership of selected organizations.
Invite Group Three students to begin to collaborate in the research
component and in other ways organize their active participation in the
implementation project. Continue facilitation of all three online
course student groups.
Conduct and facilitate the three-hour long seminar for online course
students. Students will be introduced to each other in person and
communicate their experiences with the information in the online
course. This will also be a seminar during which students will be
introduced to the People’s Budget type of process. For this
they will develop ideas for how land rent funds can be best utilized
for sustainable development of their city.
Conduct and facilitate the seminar for public officials and
organizational leaders. The goal here is communication and
exchange of relevant project information; additionally, the seminar
outcome will include commitments of public officials and
organizational leaders for next steps for towards implementation.
Write and send the second round of media press
releases describing the project progress to date. Follow-up with phone
calls and indicate willingness to give media interviews and
presentations about the project.
Invite and engage online course students in their own efforts to
organize and present talks and seminars. This could take the form of
public events or simply less formal groups of family and friends. The
point is to encourage and support them in actively promoting the
policy and its implementation.
Continue refining the land value assessments research and development
and presentation of the information in attractive, colorful,
informative land value maps, graphs and charts.
Update the information on the Powerpoint presentation and on the
Plan the final phase of public education about the Project. This will
necessitate expansion of the Project database; arrangement of public
meeting space, date and time.
Develop the outline and first draft for a
paper detailing the project’s final results and next step
recommendations for policy implementation.
Check that all enrolled students have completed the online course and
been encouraged to actively participate in final steps of the project.
Continue the process of Peoples Budget envisioning with those students
interested in doing so.
Continue with public education by organizing and meeting with groups
of people to present the powerpoint and/or other informational
Wrap up research and development of the tax shift scenario.
Produce final land value maps, graphs and
Write the second draft of the project conclusion paper.
Prepare final press release
Send out press release announcing the concluding public informational
event during the first week, along with the date and time announcement
to the complete contact database, which will include all students,
public officials, researchers, and organizational leaders.
Write the third and final draft of the project conclusion paper,
which will include a SWOT analysis for LVT implementation for the
Write, design, print and distribute a brief one-page concluding
Update the powerpoint and the website with final information.
Scheduled for the last week of the ninth month, conduct a public
event describing the project’s outcome and recommendations
for next steps. The project’s final paper will be released
at this event.
After the public event, the project’s final paper will be
distributed as widely as possible and hard copies will be mailed to
selected media, public officials and organizational leaders.
This month will be devoted to an internal review of the project by
all those who were most actively engaged with the project. The outcome
of the review will be written in the form of a SWOT analysis and
available to interested individuals and organizations upon request.
In addition to these specific pilot implementation projects, we
intend to continue to build the worldwide knowledge base for Georgist
economics by way of enrollment and facilitation of students
through the new online course. We hereby invite and welcome others to
engage with these and additional upcoming LVT implementation projects.
Your support and participation can take many forms, tailored to your
own interests, time and talent.