ONLINE DISCUSSION – THREE WEEKLY TOPICS – WEEKLY STATEMENTS
The global data revolution has undoubtedly reached the land sector. Land information is increasingly created, stored and shared as data.
The land sector is regularly ranked among the sectors where people are most likely to pay bribes for access to services, according to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer. Corrupt government action and the looting of state property are often considered a priority development challenge. Open Data has been put forward as a tool to increase transparency, support innovation and increase civic engagement. Open Data is data that can be freely used, shared and built-on by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose. The argument that open data, as a key public good, empowers citizens to gain more insight on government spendings and decisions and gives them the power to hold their governments accountable for those actions, is one of the main arguments used in support of Open Data.
Still, land ownership data systematically ranks lowest on the Global Open Data Index or the Open Data Barometer: year after year, the land ownership dataset is marked least likely to be open. The Land Portal’s State of Land Information reports piloted in four East African countries corroborate these conclusions. The land ownership chapter in the 2019 State of Open Data report also concludes that, when it comes to land ownership data, “we are confronted by a transparency gap and a messy reality of patchy and overlapping recordkeeping and data systems”.
The question we are faced with is: how can we leverage the Open Data revolution to ensure that data related to land ownership becomes open in ways that can be used to tackle land corruption? In this debate we want to explore the potential for a step-change in support of and advocacy for open data on land ownership and land governance.