Sydney Agenda for Action

Small Island Developing States and the Millennium Development Goals: Building the Capacity

The Role of Land Professionals
SIDS Seminar, FIG Congress, Sydney, Australia 14th–15th April 2010

This publication as a .pdf-file (36 pages - 890 KB)


1. Foreword

2. Executive Summary
Global Challenges
The FIG Agenda
The Seminar
Role of Land Professionals
An Agenda for Action

3. Agenda for Action

4. Seminar Profile
Seminar Background
Seminar Profile
Role of Government
Role of Land Professionals

5. Building the Capacity
Capacity Assessment and Development
Capacity in SIDS
Building the Capacity in the Pacific Region

6. Appendices
Seminar Programme
Summary of Presentations
Participants List
Recommended References

Orders for printed copies

1. Foreword

This publication is a result of the seminar on “Small Island Developing States and the Millennium Development Goals” held 14–15 April during the FIG International Congress in Sydney, Australia 11–16 April 2010. It includes a report of the seminar and an Agenda for Action as the main outcome of the seminar.

The seminar was organised to address the challenges that the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are facing in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and with a special focus on the Pacific Region. In keeping with the Congress theme “Facing the Challenges – Building the Capacity”, the workshop articulated the input of land professionals in the Pacific Region and defined how mechanisms and capacity requirements can be met and can contribute to achieving the MDGs.

The seminar emphasised the importance of good land governance especially in relation to climate change and natural disaster; access to land, coastal and marine resources; and secure land tenure and administration. The seminar adopted the “Sydney Agenda for Action” that aims at building the capacity of land professionals to deal with these challenges.

The organisers wish to thank all who participated, contributed, supported and encouraged this seminar. Especially it is gratefully acknowledged the funding providing by Aus Aid, FAO, Commonwealth Foundation, and NZ Aid to support participation of representatives from the Pacific Region small island developing states, and from other regions throughout the world.

The seminar was organised by Dr. Diane Dumashie, Chair of FIG Commission 8, Director of Dumashie Ltd, UK with a lead team consisting of Dr. Mele Rakai, President of PILPA and CASLE Pacific, University of South Pacific, Fiji, Mr. Tony Burns, Managing Director and Kate Dalrymple, Land Equity International Pty Ltd, Wolongong, Australia; Dr. David Mitchell, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia, and Mr. Bill Robertson, Director of Bill Robertson Associates, New Zealand. FIG would like to thank the members of the lead team for all their great efforts in organising this seminar and also drafting the “Sydney Agenda for Action” for consideration and adoption by the seminar.

Finally, we wish to convey our sincere gratitude and thanks to all the delegates who travelled from all parts of the world to attend this conference and whose active and enthusiastic participation ensured the success of this seminar.

The Sydney Agenda for Action will hopefully serve as a guiding document for the land professionals in SIDS, specifically in the Pacific Region in building the capacity to meet the challenges of the future. FIG is committed to support this process.

Stig Enemark
FIG President
Diane Dumashie
Seminar Organiser
Chair, FIG Commission 8

2. Executive Summary

Global Challenges

The challenges of the new millennium are well rehearsed and clearly stated. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) form a blueprint agreed by all world’s countries and the world’s leading institutions. The first seven goals are mutually reinforcing and directed at reducing poverty in all it forms. The last goal – global partnership for development – is about the means to achieve the first seven. The MDGs represent a wider concept or a vision for the future, where proper land governance is central and vital and where the contribution of land professionals is fundamental.

The world is also facing global issues of rapid urbanisation, climate change, natural disasters and environmental degradation. These issues all relate to governance and management of land. Measures for dealing with these global issues must be integrated into strategies for poverty reduction to ensure sustainable development and to meet the MDGs. Consequently, the land governance perspective and the role of the land professionals need high-level political support and recognition.

The FIG Agenda

FIG adopted the theme “Building the Capacity” for the current term of office 2007–2010. This relates to land professionals “flying high” by facing the global agenda in terms of contributing to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. It also relates to land professionals “keeping the feet on the ground” by contributing to building the necessary capacity for dealing with professional, organisational and technology development at national and local levels. These aims are also reflected in the theme of the FIG Congress in Sydney in April 2010: “Facing the Challenges – Building the Capacity”.

Specifically, the seminar on Small Island Developing States aims to contribute to building the capacity for land professionals and their national organisations and institutions to face the challenges of meeting the MDGs. FIG is committed to support this process of resilience and sustainable development, especially through partnerships with the UN agencies and strategic alliances with the Pacific Islands Land Professionals Association (PILPA) and other organisations such as CASLE, SSSI and NZIS. This will require a strong and deep commitment to establishing a healthy land professionals´ network in the region.

The Seminar

The seminar involved about 50 representatives from small island states mainly from the Pacific Region. In addition about 50 expert and other land professionals contributed actively to the discussions. The important roles of land governance in implementing the MDGs and contributing to building the capacity of the land professionals in the region to deal with these challenges were key themes. The seminar was divided into five sessions:

1. Building Professional Capacity

  • Setting the scene for professional capacity building by identifying the specific gaps in capacity in the region.
  • Discussing ways in which land practitioners could contribute towards closing the gaps and thus assist with the achievement of the MDGs.

2. Climate change and natural disasters

  • Developing the relationship between climate change, community resilience and land tenure.
  • Discussing the input and contribution of land professionals in the preparedness, mitigation, emergency response, recovery and rehabilitation stages of Disaster Risk Management.

3. Access to land, coastal and marine resources

  • Discussing the lack of clearly defined real property rights as a major cause of dispute and resultant instability for SIDS.
  • Exploring institutional impediments to land and resource access in SIDS and investigating issues of gender and intergenerational equity

4. Good governance in land tenure and administration

  • Exploring the topic of land governance as it applies to small island states with a prevalence of customary tenure.
  • Discussing the land sector as particularly susceptible to corruption and rent seeking.

5. Building professional capacity

  • Developing strategies and activities for building the professional capacity of land professionals in the region.
  • Identifying the roles that land professionals can play towards achieving the MDGs in the region.

The selected themes identified the relationships between climate change, community resilience, land tenure and the pathway to sustainable development of land and natural resources, ensuring an equitable approach to economic development to avoid land and resource conflicts.

The themes are described in more detail in section 4 below. The seminar programme is available in the appendix in section 6. All presentations at the seminar are available at the FIG website:

Role of Land Professionals

Land professionals and practitioners have strong roles to play in developing land policies, improving land tenure security, managing sustainable use of land, and resolving conflicts over land and mapping vulnerability. To achieve this they will need to fully understand land issues at the community level and be able to communicate these at the political and decision-making levels. Land professional should adopt the role of change agents and rise to its challenges. Land is the root of change and land professionals need to direct change towards economic, social, and environmental sustainability and good governance.

An Agenda for Action

Dialogue is not delivery. Therefore, the seminar aimed to produced an agenda for action on building the capacity of land professionals in the region. This includes some general guidance and professional ethics; guidelines on developing vehicles for building land professional capacity; guidelines on building roles and responsibilities for land professionals; and institutional responsibility for driving an agenda for SIDS specifically in the Pacific Region. The Agenda for Action is outlined in section 3 below. Although the Agenda for Action is developed for the Pacific Region it has direct relevant for SIDS across the globe.


Effective and democratised land governance is at the heart of delivering the global vision of our future laid out in the MDGs. The implementation of the MDGs is however jeopardised by new challenges, especially climate change, natural disasters and environmental degradation. Small island developing states, such as in the Pacific Region, face challenges posed by size and geography that limit possibilities for economic diversification and leave them highly vulnerable to environmental risks.

Land professionals in these islands have vital roles to play and to promote engagement from all sectors of society. A strong and deep commitment to establishing a healthy land professionals´ network with sufficient capacity to face the challenges and manage the people to land relationship is required.

The seminar has contributed directly and actively to this process by moving the agenda forward for land professionals in SIDS.

Taurama Valley, Papua New Guinea © Max Kepp

3. Agenda for Action

Sydney Agenda for Action

Building Capacity in Small Island Developing States

The meeting resolves that land professionals in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) build their capacity to address the agenda stated in MDG 8, Target 14 in line with the principles set out in the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action, and optimizing social and economic development by:

1 Flying high with feet on the ground

1.1 Becoming informed, multi skilled, ethical, practitioners and professionals and change agents
1.2 Engaging, understanding and learning from communities to be more effective as change agents
1.3 Increasing dialogue and forums for interaction with senior policy makers in governments to develop political will for responsible land management and informed reaction to needs and situations
1.4 Establishing strategic alliances and promoting the practice by sitting on boards, accessing decision makers and developing relationships with stakeholders
1.5 Identifying appropriate technology for given situations to achieve appropriate and functional solutions
1.6 Ensuring a gender equal approach in the design of land policy and the activities to implement these policies
1.7 Insisting that implementing agencies with assistance of consultants build sustainable systems that require minimal continuing external support and monitoring to ensure this happens

2 Developing vehicles for building land professional capacity

For education and training:
2.1 Gathering government funding and donor support for institutional activities and ensuring that this support is best applied
2.2 Inventing new ways of training, including training the trainers, remote education systems, new tools and off-campus learning arrangements or open universities that facilitate two-way interaction and build the capacity of local SIDS institutions
2.3 Developing alumni capacity for knowledge transfer among peers and into the student groups
2.4 Working towards a multi-skilled approach in university programs
2.5 Building continuous professional improvement and training programs
2.6 Encouraging the engagement of interdisciplinary experts in training, change management training, and risk management
2.7 Encouraging young people and women into the education institutions
2.8 Encouraging and supporting early education awareness and interest in areas relevant to the land sector

For land professionals:
2.9 Developing social responsibilities and ethical standards through active membership of professional organisations
2.10 Encouraging mentoring and being proactive in attracting new entrants, both male and female, into the professions and retaining them
2.11 Developing work experience training e.g. attachment programs, and on the job training, deployment and mentoring of graduates on land projects, within and external to the region work experience

For professional organisations:
2.12 Using Web based communication systems and support mechanisms for knowledge transfer and training
2.13 Improving the capacity of land practitioners to understand the risk and manage the relationships with regard to:
  – Person to person relationship management
  – People to land relationships
  – Customary and state land in situations of development transition
  – Climate change
  – Vulnerability to natural disasters and community resilience
2.14 Aligning professional programs with other important initiatives (for example, developing informed responses to the Pacific Urban Agenda and regional action plans, and other strategic initiatives)
2.15 Instituting education and professional processes that ensure public trust, transparent processes and regulation of professional activities
2.16 Encouraging a broader perspective of land practitioners to develop diverse skill levels appropriate for small nation states with limited resources

For regional networks and organisations:
2.17 Building sustainable regional organisations, such as PILPA, PIPA, so that that the region shares knowledge and experience to build optimal capacity
2.18 Gaining recognition for PILPA as the legitimate organization representing land practitioners
2.19 Producing regional guidance notes and information papers on technical issues for member associations
2.20 Building long-term, sustainable relationships between:
  – Practitioners and politicians
  – Member organisations such as SSSI, NZIS and other local land practitioners
  – Global organisations such as CASLE and FIG
  – Funding agencies
  – All SIDS regions
to ensure they identify and prioritise the capacity needs of individual countries

3 Building roles and responsibilities for land professionals

Achieving knowledge transfer from land practitioners to others by:
3.1 Ensuring consultants leave a legacy such as trained locals
3.2 Building appreciation and recognition of non-professionals for basic land tools including survey infrastructure and mapping
3.3 Increasing dialogue and forums for interaction with senior policy makers in governments to develop political will for responsible land management and informed reaction to needs and situations
3.4 Sharing information and experiences on recent responses to natural disasters and climate change that facilitate the management of and resources

Identifying the capacities of land practitioners in Island States that are needed NOW, including:
3.5 Multi-disciplinary professional capacities
3.6 Capacity to develop land policy frameworks
3.7 Capacity to identify the best practices for delivering security of tenure in island states
3.8 Capacity to analyse and research attitudes to land
3.9 Capacity to manage pressures on land use, and understanding of future roles of land
3.10 Capacity to communicate with stakeholders (clients, public and government policy makers, NGOs) in changes to land relationships and land uses
3.11 Capacity to map vulnerabilities and resilience of island states

4 Acting responsibly

Maintain and improve the livelihoods of people and environmental sustainability by:
4.1 Maintaining highest professional standards
4.2 Eradicating corruption
4.3 Facilitating the agenda of social and economic development

5 Driving the agenda for the Pacific

In particular, in the region this is an agenda to build action plans and it is expected that the following organizations will take this forward:
5.1 PILPA (Pacific Islands Land Professionals Association) – to take ownership of this Agenda for Action and provide the momentum and the platform for developing action plans at the national and regional levels
5.2 Country – develop national action plans that feed into the regional action plan
5.3 Development Partners – work to build relationships with national governments, development partners, and policy makers to assist in funding the resources to needed to implement the action plans
5.4 Strategic Alliances – work to build partnerships forums to progress PILPA action plans with FIG, CASLE, and regional organizations SSSI, NZIS.

4. Seminar Profile

The Pacific Region represented in this seminar consists of many small countries. Nevertheless the total population in the region is 10 million which means that lots of people are affected by inadequate land administration systems across the region, Because of the small size of most individual Pacific Island States and the widely spread and isolated nature of the geography, the challenges for land administration in the Pacific are much more extreme than for larger developing states. Therefore there is a need for small scale urgent and effective resolution of a range of common land administration problems.

Fully integrated sustainable development is a particularly important concern for small island developing states, which are among the most vulnerable countries in the world. Ocean and coastal zones form the basis for well-being and development in SIDS, so the health of these environments is critical. Limited land mass in SIDS creates sharply competing demands and development pressures on natural ecosystems driven by economic activities and needs for shelter, water and fuel. Coastal areas tend to be densely populated and may be low-lying, making SIDS especially vulnerable to rising sea levels, climate change and climate variability. Relationships between different sectors of the economy are very close so that poor land management affects everybody.

Because of their size, SIDS are unable to capture economies of scale in their domestic markets, or in their political, managerial and technical capacities. These are characterised by open economies in which international trade is more significant than it is in larger states. They tend to rely on a limited number of external markets and a narrower range of commodities. Remoteness implies higher costs for energy, transportation and communications, while extreme weather events can sometimes destroy a country’s gross domestic product overnight.

The Pacific Islands Region covers a very wide expanse of the world’s surface.

Today’s is the first generation with the resources and technology to tackle poverty on a global scale and to free the entire human race from want. The MDGs are a powerful concept towards development, security and human rights for all. Surveyors and land professionals play a key role in this regard in terms of providing some of the fundamental preconditions for development. These preconditions are also embedded in the Millennium Declaration and spelled out in the targets and indicators for achieving the MDGs.

Seminar Background

In April 1994 a global conference was held in Barbados to consider how small island States could face up to their special challenges. “The Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States” determined that sustainable development was the logical answer, and adopted the “Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States” to help bring it about.

The MDGs mention SIDS direction in Goal 8 target 14 stating that the special needs of small island developing states should be addressed. This will be continuously measured as described in MDG indicator 35 that focuses on the proportion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) for the environment in SIDS. The MDGs are globally accepted benchmarks of broader progress, embraced by donors, developing countries, civil society and major development institutions alike. There is a shared vision of development. These goals can be met by 2015 – but only if all involved break with business as usual, eradicate corruption, and dramatically accelerate and scale-up action now (stated by UN 2005).

In January 2005, a high-level UN meeting was convened in Mauritius to review the implementation of and refine the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) for the Sustainable Development of SIDS. The principal negotiated outputs of the meeting are a strategy document and a political declaration. The Mauritius Strategy builds on and reassesses the original BPoA areas. It also highlights several new priorities and emerging issues now considered important dimensions of sustainable development in SIDS. The twenty chapters of the Mauritius Strategy call for action in many fields related to UNESCO’s concerns, programmes and priorities including climate change (1), natural disasters (2), coastal and marine resources (4), and land resources (6).

Ultimately, the message is that the MDGs address some of the most fundamental issues of our time. Many SIDS face challenges in terms of multiple impacts of climate change, energy and waste; unprecedented growth in urbanisation; and shortage of financial and technological resources or support. The scale and speed of these changes are already undermining progress towards the MDGs. Therefore, SIDS demand special attention due to their vulnerability, and community action is particularly needed to achieve a resilient policy and capacity approach.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) cautioned in their 2008 Forum Communiqué, that the Pacific Region has fallen behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is not on track to achieve them by 2015. This was supported by the Lowy Report to the PIFS in August 2009, which concluded that the Pacific region needs better targeted aid, investment in infrastructure in rural areas, and more efforts to support and enable the private sector.

Seminar Profile

The seminar was built around three global themes: Climate Change and Natural Disasters; Access to Land and Resources; and Good Land Governance; with an important and underlying theme of Building the Capacity. The selected themes identified the relationships between climate change, community resilience and land tenure and the pathway to sustainable development of land and natural resources, to ensure an equitable approach to economic development and avoid land and resource conflicts. Thus the themes in total reflect the Mauritius strategy as well as the MDGs.

The Climate Change and Natural Disasters theme was designed to articulate the input and contribution of land professionals in the preparedness, mitigation, emergency response, recovery and rehabilitation stages of Disaster Risk Management (DRM). This contribution encompasses surveying, land administration, valuation, land use planning, and spatial information management. Land issues need to be considered in each stage of the DRM process.

There is evidence of an increase in the frequency of natural disasters in the last few decades. According to the Fourth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) climate change is very likely to lead to increased frequencies and intensities of some extreme weather events such as heat waves, tropical cyclones, floods and drought. SIDS are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, and the impacts of climate change. The tsunami that hit Samoa and other Pacific Island Countries in September 2009 provided graphic evidence of the vulnerability of coastal communities to the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters. SIDS also have less capacity to respond to natural disasters, rebuild, and undertake adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce vulnerability to future hazards. The most vulnerable are more likely to live on disaster-prone land, and are at greatest risk of displacement and loss of livelihood assets in the event of a disaster. The Pacific Island countries have a high percentage of customary tenure and this presents unique challenges for DRM.

Rapid urbanisation, combined with the effects of climate change, is placing unprecedented pressure on land in SIDS. This is mostly experienced in vulnerable coastal communities, and urban and peri-urban informal settlements. Many of these are governed by customary tenure and are outside the formal land tenure systems. Tenure security is related to poor capacity for resilience – the majority of the people most vulnerable to natural disasters do not have formal title to land. In many cases they have only informal tenure rights and are vulnerable to eviction after a disaster. Informal settlements are often located in coastal areas vulnerable to cyclones or storms, on steep slopes vulnerable to landslides, or along flood plains.

Natural disasters are best understood not merely as the outcome of climatic, biological, or geological hazards, but as a coupling of natural hazards with human vulnerability. Disasters remove the means of generating an income (or livelihood) and destroy any savings and assets.

The Access to Land, Coastal and Marine Resources theme aimed to address the issue of access to these resources in SIDS to ensure appropriate social and economic development of resources in the immediate future. The theme also explored institutional impediments to land and resource access in SIDS including the issues of gender and intergenerational equity, and the application of land trusts, with a view to proposing workable leasehold solutions that avoid creation of long-term perpetual lease structures. The objective was to identify the lines of enquiry and the action steps that should form a local and international agenda for land professionals to greatly improve access to resources by the citizens of SIDS.

Common issues identified are unplanned rapid urbanization, inadequate land administration systems for customary and other land, inadequate lease terms and conditions of customary land, un-surveyed lands, difficulty in searching land titles because of manual land registration systems, delays in registration or customary land declarations, lack of direct public access for all land information currently stored manually, and so on. The urgency for SIDS to develop new and improved systems and methods is even greater than those in other developing countries as SIDS are the more vulnerable and face more extreme challenges.

The ready and efficient access to land and maritime resources for the sustainable and equitable use of citizens of SIDS is crucial. Pressures on access to resources arise through increasing demands of urbanisation, sustainable food and water supply and environmental degradation. The range of pressing issues bearing on the sustainable resource use of SIDS and their resolution will require cooperative efforts and programmes at national, regional and international levels.

Access to land and marine resources is challenged by a lack of clearly defined real property rights, which in turn causes disputes and resultant instability for SIDS. This situation is compounded when viewed from outside by those who are familiar with the Western approach to land use and ownership. In the South Pacific, for example, some 83–97% of land remains vested in the stewardship of the indigenous guardians who retain the superior interest in and control of the land.

It is generally accepted that this ‘superior’ interest in land – which identifies who can determine its primary uses – should not be alienated, but rather retained for the sake of intergenerational equity. To address the differences between Western and indigenous views on land ownership and control, Pacific Island governments should strive for land reform that encourages leasehold solutions that are sensitive to customary ownership. These must strike a balance between communal and individualised property rights that is agreeable to their citizens. Moreover, institutional changes from lenders and financiers are needed to accept Pacific models of access to land and resources as workable tenures.

Land professionals have strong roles to play in developing land policy, improving land tenure security, resolving conflicts over land and mapping vulnerability. To achieve this they will need to fully understand land issues at the community level and be able to communicate these issues at the political and decision-making levels. Land professionals have the capability, the international linkages and the opportunity to both lead and contribute to the sustainable use of resources in their countries.

The Good Governance in Land Tenure and Administration theme was focused on land governance as it applies to small island states with a prevalence of customary tenure and a land sector being particularly susceptible to corruption and rent seeking.

The small island states in the Pacific, typically grouped into three regions: Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia cover a very wide expanse of the world’s surface. Only small percentages of the region’s land resources have been alienated to the state and most land operates under a range of customary land tenure and land use systems. Despite their formal recognition the customary tenure systems face increasing pressures from actors and institutions both internal and external to the customary groups. The prevalence and importance of customary tenure in the Pacific adds a level of complexity to any consideration of land governance.

Over time the strong links between rights and responsibilities have eroded and patterns of beliefs, values and behaviours have become less integrated and more diverse. The expectation for continuing or on-going rights by individuals and families that have migrated has added complexity in many countries. Women and the younger generation are disadvantaged in access to land in some countries. Land tenure problems have been a source of conflict and are identified as a key obstacle to development in the region.

The land sector is particularly susceptible to corruption and rent seeking. Land is an enormously valuable asset, typically accounting for 30–50% of national wealth in developing countries. The value of land thus creates a significant opportunity for corruption on the part of those with the legal authority to assign, revoke, or restrict rights to it.

Land scarcity and demand in both urban and rural areas also increase the pressure on good governance of land administration and management systems. Population growth and urbanization drive up land value which affects housing and property and makes implementation of planning and zoning regulations more difficult. Rural areas experience increasing demands for escalating land values of new land uses, such as bio-fuel agriculture or forest reserves for carbon offsetting.

Development practitioners of all persuasions recognize the importance of governance and the rule of law as essential preconditions for economic and social development. Given the complexity of land issues virtually everywhere and the fact that institutional arrangements are highly country specific systematic guidance is needed to diagnose and benchmark land governance and to contribute to improving the situation over time.

Significant challenges face Pacific Island governments as they look to optimise economic development of the wider community whilst maintaining safeguards and traditions of customary tenure that are embedded in the social fabric of nations. Significant capacity building is required in order for land professionals to adequately fulfil their important mandates. A third key challenge for professionals is to earn the trust of both policy makers and the community.

The underlying Building Professional Capacity theme with two sessions and a wrap up discussion was devoted to building professional capacity to enable the professionals to move forward. A key focus is on the interaction between the public, private and educational sectors (such as government, professional organisations and educational institutions) addressing what possible partnerships can be created to face the challenges of the future.

Small Island developing states have unique problems such as the interrelations between land and marine environments and customary tenure highlighted by the chosen global themes, but their key issues are people, the relationship between them, and the institutions governing their activities, so ultimately the professional’s role is within the societal framework.

SIDS Seminar at FIG Congress, Sydney, Australia, 14th–15th April 2010. © Stig Enemark

Role of Government

In order to build resilience, small island states should:

  • take steps to promote good governance by pursuing appropriate policies to ensure political stability and the enforcement of the rule of law, to address corruption, as well as to promote accountability, transparency and efficiency in the delivery of public services;
  • promote social cohesion, support poverty eradication and sustainable livelihoods and foster harmonious social development;
  • protect and sustainably manage the environment, notably by taking steps to increase energy efficiency, promote waste management, improve freshwater resources management, and encourage sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources.

Relevant UN agencies, including the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), should continue to provide support to small states, particularly SIDS, towards the promotion of sustainable development in general and resilience building in particular.

Role of Land Professionals

Land professionals and practitioners have strong roles to play in developing land policy, improving land tenure security, resolving conflicts over land and mapping vulnerability. To achieve this they will need to fully understand land issues at the community level and be able to communicate these at the political and decision-making levels. More specifically the roles of land professionals are to:

  • Understand the underlying land tenure and land use arrangements. Capture and record the nature of the relationships that different peoples have with their customary lands regarding their sense of identity, their ancestral obligations and rights of stewardship and the key relationships between groups of people.
  • Map vulnerability and resilience to assist with preparedness and mitigation, and manage situations after a disaster strikes. Assign values to the level of vulnerability or resilience to allow for decisions on priority areas for mitigation and adaptation measures.
  • Provide innovative options for improving tenure security incrementally along a ladder of rights for those with the most insecure tenure.
  • Provide information on factors contributing to vulnerability such as the distribution of land, land tenure status, existing livelihoods, and the location of infrastructure.
  • Communicate information effectively relating to the tenure security of customary lands to assist customary landowners to make informed decisions.
  • Develop land policies based on inclusive and consultative processes that make provisions for those at highest risk of a natural disaster, and those with poor tenure security.
  • Analyze land governance at all levels and implement measures to improve governance in the land sector.
  • Contribute to the development of effective land dispute resolution mechanisms for both customary and formal land tenures.
    (Grenville Barnes presentation in session 2.)

Land professional should adopt the role of change agents and rise to its challenges. Land is the root of change and land professionals need to provide the leadership that delivers economic, social, and environmental sustainability and good governance.

Fiji © Stig Enemark

5. Building the Capacity

Capacity Assessment and Development

Developing countries – such a SIDS – need to ensure that their land is effectively and appropriately managed; that management can support economic growth of the country; and that people´s interests are adequately protected. This requires governments to establish effectively operating land administration systems.

Building the capacity is the key issue in building or reforming land administration systems. Capacity building measures must be seen in a wider context of developing and maintaining institutional infrastructures in a sustainable way. Only then can a capacity building concept guide assessment of capacity needs and identify adequate responses at societal, organisational and individual levels.

UNDP offers this basic definition: “Capacity can be defined as the ability of individuals and organizations or organizational units to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainable.” Capacity is seen as two dimensional:

1. Capacity assessment that is a structured and analytical process whereby the various dimensions of capacity are assessed and the capacity needs identified in relation to undertaking the relevant tasks within the system.

2. Capacity development is about developing the capacity and skills for meeting the capacity needs of performing the core functions. The measures of capacity development may be in terms of education and training or it may be in relation to institutional and organisational restructuring.

UNDP and OECD therefore offer a more comprehensive definition of capacity development:

“– – the process by which individuals, groups, organisations, institutions and societies increase their abilities to: perform core functions, solve problems, and define and achieve objectives; and to understand and deal with their development needs in a broader context and in a sustainable manner.” This new approach for capacity development is also influenced by today’s globalization of knowledge transfer. Capacity development is arguably one of the central development challenges of today, as much of the rest of social and economic progress will depend on it. Capacity development can be addressed at three levels as outlined by UNDP:

  • The societal level, which includes the political objectives, land development policies and policy instruments, and the legal framework.
  • The organisational level, which includes the institutional infrastructures, good governance, spatial data infrastructures, ITC infrastructures, and professional institutions.
  • The individual level, which includes human resources and skills through education and training and continuing professional development (CPD) activities.

Adoption of a comprehensive land policy is crucial, since this will drive the legislative reform which in turn results in the institutional reform and finally implementation with all its technical and human resource requirements.

However, capacity building is not a linear process. Whatever the entry point and the issue in focus, zooming in or out to incorporate the conditions and consequences at upper or lower levels is frequently necessary. Capacity building should be seen as a comprehensive methodology aimed at providing sustainable outcomes through assessing and addressing a wide range of relevant issues and their interrelationships.

Capacity in SIDS

Recognising that developing countries struggle to catch-up in professional skilling, SIDS are especially vulnerable. Often land professionals need to redefine local, traditional tenures in response to social and economic changes, to set land policy, and to take the initiative where indigenous land rights need stabilising in the face of emerging agricultural and tourism demands.

“Whatever the big problems you can imagine, from ensuring world peace to the environment, to hunger to poverty, the solution always includes education.”
(Nicholas Nigroponte as presented by Sevania Dakaica, Fiji).

Approaches to building capacity in SIDS need to change in a number of ways, the meeting highlighted increasing responsibility of the land professionals to:

  • Encourage entry to the profession by the young and women
  • Become adaptive and resilient to the pressures of our times
  • Increase knowledge and expertise in disaster risk management.

These are cross cutting issues and need to be embedded at each of the three capacity levels: societal, organisational and individual. Given the dearth of professional people all SIDS need land policy professionals who are multi disciplinary, and capable of taking the initiative to deal with issues of land access. Above all land professionals must build their personal capacity to provide leadership and simultaneously support their professional leaders.

Building the Capacity in the Pacific Region

The Pacific region is currently undergoing much needed land reforms, to allow it to respond to pressures caused by a global market economy, by new technologies, by rapid population growth, by internal migration and urbanization, and by environmental and social change, including climate change. Reform of land policy is a complex process that cross-cuts security of tenure in land, efficiency of land markets and effective control of land use. These components rely on some form of land administration infrastructure that identifies the complex range of rights, restrictions and responsibilities in land so they can be appropriately surveyed, mapped and managed as basis for implementing land policy. A broad range of capacity building and human resource development (HRD) measures need to be considered and established.

The inaugural meeting of the Pacific Islands Land Professionals Association (PILPA) in 2008 recognised the scarcity of land administration professionals and practitioners in most Pacific Island countries and the need for urgent responses. The seminar therefore identified capacity gaps among small island states through discussions on: professional capacity in land administration; response and risk management of climate change and natural disasters; impediments to access of land and resources; and considerations of good land governance and administration. These issues were carefully considered from the perspective of how they can be addressed by land professionals of small island states.

The outcome is presented in the Agenda for Action in section 3 above.

Zanzibar, Tanzania © Rashid Azzan

6. Appendices

Seminar Programme

The aim is to emphasise the important role of land governance in addressing the MDGs but also articulating the input of land professionals and their contribution that promotes engagement from all sectors of society. This will require a strong and deep commitment to establishing a healthy land professionals´ network.

Presentations are available at the on-line at the FIG web site for the Congress in Sydney:

SIDS Seminar at FIG Congress, Sydney, Australia, 14th–15th April 2010. © Stig Enemark

Summary of Presentations


Mele Rakai, President of PILPA, Fiji
There are a rage of problems to be faced by in the Pacific Region such as lack of land professionals, lack or quality professional education and training of land professionals, lack of engagement between governments and professional associations, and lack of adequate resources for education and capacity building. The Pacific Island Land Professionals Association (PILPA) was established 2008 at the FAO/UPS Good Governance in Land Seminar held July 2008 in Suva, Fiji to address these problems and more, generally, to extend understanding of the importance of professionals who can deliver land management skills in support of the MDGs.

Antonio Wycliffe PNG
With a Pacific SIDS perspective highlighted the National Land Development Taskforce report on capacity needs specifically that the basic professional skills in the region are adequate but specialist skills and research and development skills are lacking. To overcome the reliance on professional foreign consultancies strong professional bodies need to be established and the provision of continuing professional development forums.

Jackson Vaikota, Solomon Islands
The two broad professional challenges are technical and articulating customary system. First, private practice provides technical survey and valuation skills to relieve ministry work load; but policy capacity is lacking. Second a Land reform group is seeking to transform the local customary system to mobilize land for development; but this needs to be achieved in a cost effective system. Overseas and Intra island exchange educational programs are needed, coupled with in-service training and as necessary selective engagement of foreign experts should be considered.

Faatasi Malaloga, Tuvalu
Public government departments are often poorly resourced on Pacific Islands such as Tuvalu. The problems are compounded by limited training for professional assistants. Survey regulations and land management standards do not exist so survey standards are often being adopted ad-hoc. Building capacity needs to include formalising professional accreditation from neighbouring countries and providing local training programs.

David Neale, Trinidad and Tobago
Providing a snapshot of capacity building experiences from the Caribbean SIDS region (24 States), and emphasising that many of the same capacity issues arise such as politics, training, and convincing the public. A Caribbean ongoing positive solution is the collaboration and cooperation of an active university that operates across 11 countries. This has the benefit of pooling resources and talent.

Marnie Laybourne, Australia
The Surveying and Spatial Science institute (SSSi) was formed 2009 as a merger between the Institute of Surveyors Australia and Spatial Science Institute. SSI is keen to explore ways to support SIDS through engagement as a professional group, addressing training needs, and enhancing professional opportunities and standards in the Pacific.


Grenville Barnes, USA
The findings of research on land tenure issues following hurricane Ivan in Grenada, and hurricane Mitch in Honduras, focused on pro-poor land governance issues. Donor agency insistence that that all recipients of aid for new houses hold a valid land title, does not account for the majority of the most vulnerable people not holding title. Short and long-term actions were suggested to improve resilience. Among the short-term measures were diversification of livelihoods, improving tenure security along a “ladder of rights”, and resettlement away from the most vulnerable areas.

Toelau Iulio, Samoa
Particular interest and action to land practitioners in the recovery after the Samoa 2009 tsunami was the damage to the Samoa Survey Control Network. The Department of Lands role was to organise resettlement of people away from vulnerable coastal lands to higher land. This required relocation of infrastructure such as water supply to the newly developed areas. Before this could occur the geodetic network needed to be upgraded and extended into the new areas to meet the demand of land development.

Eric Gorapava, Solomon Islands
The 2007 Earthquake in the Solomon Islands led to the resettlement of large numbers of people from coastal lands to state land and customary lands. The result is government  eviction of people from state owned lands that are earmarked for national projects. Indeed active involvement of rural communities in recovery and reconstruction can be realized through a proper village planning process. Long-term improvements to tenure security can be achieved by demarcating relocation sites and granting fixed-term titles to the displaced families.

Masang Bagingdo, PNG
PNG is particularly vulnerable to all types of natural disasters PNG survey practitioners operate specifically in mapping and assessing climate change affected areas (hot spots). The legislative structure has come under pressure and subsequent review, but significant difficulties in surveying the customary lands (approximately 97%) exist. Capacity building initiatives include the development of postgraduate diploma, and a review of surveying legislation, and education and training based on lessons from previous disasters.


Max Kepp, Papua New Guinea
PNG has the largest urban population in the Pacific Region with 900,000 people living in urban areas with a current growth rate of 13%. There several examples of unsatisfactory land administration. PNG via its National Land Program is leading the way in land reform in the Pacific region via a suite of institutional, policy, and legislative changes, with a focus on urban areas.

Felitsita Heather Ikenasio, Samoa
The Samoan registry system is based on deeds and was moved onto the Torrens system in 2009. Tenure categories are 81% customary land (81%), freehold (4%), communal or public land (15%). A review of the alienation of customary Lands Act 1965 is under way. There is currently a review of alienation of the Customary Land Act and a 2008 act amendment enables the registration customary lands through the customary courts.

Charlie Tereapii, Cook Islands
The country consists of 15 small islands, with a population of 19,500. They use the NZ Survey Act and there is no land subdivision town planning legislation. Absentee land ownership is high as 80% of Cook Islands live overseas. There is an urgent need to fully brief politicians on land administration weaknesses and the reforms needed.

Kulene Sokotia, Tuvalu
Tuvalu is an independent sovereign state of 9 tiny islands in a sovereign state with a population of 11,000 people. Land ownership remains with indigenous people, and land is seen as the not only mother but also a commodity that is very precious and therefore requires careful management for the future. Important to convince politicians to adapt and adopt regional and international concepts of land management systems.

Azzan Rashid, Zanzibar
Zanzibar has a population of 1 million with 40million population in the whole of Tanzania. Major land issues in Zanzibar and the wider region are security of tenure for land holders of whom 80% live in rural areas and depend on subsistence agriculture. Parcels of land are owned in community system. There is a need for clear policies and legislation for land transfer, acquisition, humanized and community involvement.


Paul Munro-Faure, FAO
Development of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines is an ongoing process in the context of the Pacific. A cross section of local partners, including private, government and academia are invited to discuss topics over 2.5 days. It is planned that sessions will be held in the Caribbean in September 2010 and the Pacific Sub-office are to meet again in July 2010. The voluntary guidelines are an intensive and challenging process that is hoped to be of benefit to the people that are invited and countries that will adopt the guidelines.

Pepi Kimas, Papua New Guinea
Land being a central role in the everyday lives of Papua New Guineans is seeing a change. Major developments are occurring now to ensure that customary land holders have the opportunity to benefit from potential development returns from their land. To date, most economic activities were conducted on state land. The government have set a 2050 Vision for easier access to customary land.

Ruth Liloqula, Solomon Islands
There is a need to re-establish professionalism in the land sector to eliminate corruption as key strategies in building community trust. There is ethnic tension caused by customary and crown lands. Good governance in land affects national well being and too many land disputes occur in Solomon Islands. Capacity building must build independence rather than dependence through mentoring.

Maraia Ubitau, Fiji
The large majority of Fijian land is under native tenure (88%), half of this which is under Native Reserve, while the remained is held under freehold (8%) and State land (4%). Numerous legislative acts help to provide a strong legal framework for the management of land covering all legal tenures. There are many strengths within the current Fiji land administration system, however there are also some weaknesses, including the problem of ensuring that the development decisions of the Native Land Trust Board provide optimal returns to customary land holders.

Romano Reo, Kiribati
The Kiribati Islands home to 95,000 people with almost half of the population living in the Capital on the main island of Gilbert. Only 37% of land is under customary land tenure on the main Gilbert Island while the remainder is all State owned. Squatters operate on government lease land due to urban drift and population growth. Landowners pressure government for surrender of undeveloped portion of leased lands.

Pele Fuata’I, Samoa
The geodetic control and survey network has been upgraded, and there has been digitisation
of data to the Torrens system in a recent upgrading land administration and cadastre project. This eliminated the Deeds system. However natural disasters have since broken the server and the backup and a new solution is required to retrieve the data. Effective capacity building is mostly through hands on training, on-the-job training and study tours. Ongoing communication via email and internet are useful for support after assistance has finished.

Fetu’u Vea, Tonga
The strengths in land governance are historical. All principles of MDGs were in Tongan Constitution of 4 Nov 1875 and related land acts with rights to any male of 16 and over land, access and development. Current governance weaknesses include: Shortage of land professionals, including cartographers; Some of the work is still done manually, however the World Bank have computerised the registry; Financial constraints prevent further reform.


Chris Lunney, Australia
Developing countries need to be in a position to ensure that their land is: effectively and appropriately managed; can support the economic growth of the country; and that people’s interests in their land is provided with an acceptable level of protection. This requires governments to have in place effectively operating land administration systems. Through a few case studies it is possible to gain an appreciation of where capacity building has failed or conversely been successful. This relates to studies of capacity building activities in Lao PDR (Asia), Lesotho (Africa) and the Pacific Nations.

Michael Mangawai, Vanuatu
SIDS professionals need to overcome the situation whereby they have to use other nations tools. Typified by the UNDP land administration projects which uses a Needs Assessment Tool; SIDS should be developing their on specialised land tool, and resist agencies treatment of land administration as a cross-cutting issue, merged into other sectors such as water, forests, environment, agriculture, cities, etc. The important issue for SIDS is their professional relationships with funding agencies and access to funding streams.

Ueligitone Seiuli, Samoa
Graduates are needed to meet capacity needs. Field practice is essential for professional recognition. Funds must be available for training and new equipment and travel.

Sevanaia Dakaica, Fiji
There are large numbers of land practitioners across the Pacific Island countries who are not formally trained and qualified. There are constraints to self funding studies and existing scholarships does not prioritise land management studies. Only PNG and Fiji have tertiary education institutions for land practitioners. Literature calls for multiple strategies for capacity building in the land sector; relying on new partnerships and use of distance and flexible learning. Land reform public discussion organised in Fiji was well attended by Fijians.

Marnie Laybourne, Australia
Reinforced what was said yesterday about strong partnerships with SSSI to address capacity needs. Members of SSSI are keen to help develop capacity in home countries.

Loia Tausi, Tuvalu
Climate change will impede nation´s ability to achieve sustainable development pathways as to achieve our MDGs. Important to map vulnerabilities in precise terms as land professionals and learn how to implement good governance and to deal with corruption. Share lessons learned by neighbouring countries to enhance capacity. Ending women’s disadvantage is important. Adaptation is the way forward to achieve resilience. Monitoring and evaluating capacity needs is essential. Financial assistance is greatly needed by SIDS.

Martin Sokomanu, Vanuatu
Scale of challenges combine geography, plate tectonic activity, poor agricultural soils, and 90% land in customary land tenure (and practices) for use of family members. Land administration department is guided by the Planning Long Acting Short Matrix 2010–2015 (PLAS Matrix) that steers government priority action agenda framework. But a major challenge is the lack of land professionals and clear defined land policies. There is a need to amend the MDG Needs Assessment Tool (UNDP) which does not suit the Vanuatu context.

Richard Siataga, Niue
Niue is a small raised coral island of 259 sq km with a population of 1,625 (2006) and governed by the Assembly of 20 elected members. The gap between domestic production and demand for goods and services is very wide and makes Niue heavily dependent on foreign aid. Challenges relate to lack of qualified staff (brain drain), lack of modern equipment, and lack of training and upgrading opportunities. Empirical lessons resulting from cyclone Heta (2004) where land data was destroyed, leading to increased need for overseas technical assistance.

Participants List

Fiji. © Stig Enemark

Recommended References

Stig Enemark and Matt Higgins: The Global Development Agenda, Its Relevance to the Asia Pacific Region and the Role of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). Combined 5th Trans Tasman Survey Conference & 2nd Queensland Spatial Industry Conference 2006 – Cairns, 18–23 September 2006.

Good Governance in Land Seminar. FAO and ISP, Suva, Fiji, July 2008.

Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. Bridgetown, Barbados, 25 April – 6 May 1994.

Small Islands Big Stakes, UN International Conference, Port Louis, Mauritius, 10–14 January 2005.

Mauritius strategy; UN International conference, Port Louis, Mauritius, 14 January 2005.

UNEP Islands web site.

UN Millennium Development Goals.

Low lying atoll, Kiribati © Romano Reo

Copyright © International Federation of Surveyors, November 2010
All rights reserved

International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
Kalvebod Brygge 31–33
DK-1780 Copenhagen V
Tel. + 45 38 86 10 81

Published in English
Copenhagen, Denmark
ISBN 978-87-90907-84-6

Published by
International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
Front cover: left: St .Lucia © Stig Enemark; right: Maui, Hawaii, USA © Stig Enemark
Back cover: Kiribati © Romano Reo
Editors: Dr. Diane Dumashie and Prof. Stig Enemark
Design: International Federation of Surveyors, FIG


Sydney Agenda for Action
Small Island Developing States and the Millennium Development Goals: Building the Capacity
The Role of Land Professionals
SIDS Seminar, FIG Congress, Sydney, Australia 14th–15th April 2010

Published in English

Published by The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), November 2010
Copenhagen, Denmark
ISBN: 978-87-90907-84-6

Printed copies can be ordered from:
FIG Office, Kalvebod Brygge 31-33, DK-1780 Copenhagen V, DENMARK,
Tel: + 45 38 86 10 81, E-mail: