Home » Our Work » Urban Development and Management » The Urban Legislation, Land and Governance Branch » Overview
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The Urban Legislation, Land and Governance Branch supports National and Local Governments, civil society, academia and other Habitat Agenda Partners in adopting enabling legislation and established systems for improved access to land, and developing and improving effective decentralized governance and urban safety that foster sustainable urban development.

The Branch is comprised of three units: Legislation headed by Robert.Lewis-Lettington@unhabitat.org ; Land led by Clarissa.Augustinus@unhabitat.org ; and Local Government and Decentralization (incuding urban safety) headed by Joe.Hooper@unhabitat.org. The Branch Coordinator is Joe.Hooper@unhabitat.org A brief overview of the unit work areas is provided below.

UN-Habitat recognizes urban law as one of the foundations of effective urban management and development. Well formulated law based on sound policy supports effective implementation. It creates a stable and predictable framework for both public and private sector action, and can guarantee the inclusion of the interests of vulnerable groups while also providing a catalyst for local and national discourse. UN-Habitat works with partner countries and local governments to support the improvement of their law making processes as they affect the urban environment. This may involve the reform or development of a particular tool or a broader review of the urban legal framework as well as sharing information and experiences among countries. UN-Habitat approach to urban legislation is founded on the belief that: robust legislative frameworks must underpin all planning; on-going dialogue between legislation, policy and planning must occur to ensure relevance, innovation and a capacity to meet the future challenges facing cities; development and planning must have a clear and unequivocal rights based approach; and that local governments provide an exciting entry point for change and should be encouraged to create enabling regulations.

The Land and GLTN Unit aims to improve global coordination on land, strengthen existing land networks and improve the level and dissemination of knowledge on land tenure. The Unit’s vision is to provide appropriate land tools at global scale to implement pro-poor land policies and land reforms. Its mission is to assist national governments to implement land policies that are pro-poor, responsive to the needs of women, men and the youth, and at scale. It does this through the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), consisting of 63 Partners. The Network advocates a continuum of land rights that acknowledges a spectrum of tenure forms as appropriate and legitimate, rather than focusing on formal land titling alone.
The Land and GLTN Unit’s long-term goal is to contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development through promoting secure land and property rights for all. During its current phase of operations the Unit aims to assist Member States' international partner organizations and related land programmes in countries, cities and municipalities to be able to improve the tenure security of the urban and rural poor.

The Local Government and Decentralization Unit focuses on developing evidence-based methodologies to assess and develop the policy, legislation and institutions in areas of i).inter-municipal cooperation (under the rubric of metropolitan governance and city densification exercises, or urban-rural linkages for city extension); ii). participation and leadership of (youth, women, informal settlement dwellers in urban governance; iii). Multilevel collaborative governance; and iv). Transparency and anticorruption. The unit also aims to strengthen the coordination and cooperation with key global networks of local authorities (UCLG, Metropolis, Global Taskforce) and leverage their membership for benefit of the sub-programmes. A key priority of the unit is also to build the Global Network on Safer Cities as a key platform for convening and coordinating action on urban safety worldwide and expand the joint programmes in areas of women and girl’s safety.

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