Land Rights and Land Value Capture
New Program Developed for UN Habitat's Global Land Tool Network

Alanna Hartzok

[Reprinted from 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, describes the several components of the program material, and concludes with an overview of the International Union for Land Value Taxation sponsored pilot implementation projects.

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 tenure.

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 projects.

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 islands.

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 price escalation.

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 this focus.

Yenegoa, Nigeria

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 Implementation Projects:

First Month:

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 them.

Draft press releases; write, design and prepare to print informational material for general distribution.

Second Month:

Send out the press releases. Arrange for media interviews wherever possible.

Focus on promoting the online course and enrolling the first group of students, putting them in small groups and assigning course facilitators.

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 available electronically. 
    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.

Third Month:

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  available information.

Arrange for presentations about the project from the contact database of individuals and organizations previously that received the project announcements.

Begin preparation of a Powerpoint presentation about LVT in general and also using information specific to the Project.

Fourth Month:

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.

Fifth Month:

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.

Sixth Month:

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.

Seventh Month:

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 Project website.

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.

Eighth Month:

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 material.

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

Ninth Month:

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 project.

Write, design, print and distribute a brief one-page concluding informational piece.

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.

Tenth Month:

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.

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