Land governance : transparency and open development (IISD)

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Promoting transparency and open development in land governance

Since its inception, the International Land Coalition has been promoting transparency and accountability in land-related processes through a number of projects such as the Land Reporting Initiative, the CPL project, the Land Portal, the Land Observatory and the Land Matrix initiative. It has been clear from the start that lack of transparency on themes such as land tenure, property and ownership leads to inherent insecurity for those most vulnerable; transparency is a crucial step towards security and informed decision-making.

In recent times, the Open Knowledge model of free sharing and re-using of data for an improved global awareness started to make its way into advocacy, coalescing into the concept of Open Development: working for inclusive openness through action and advocacy (for a very effective overview watch this video by Open For Change, a network of organizations promoting open access in the global development sector).

We are experiencing a combined effort of NGOs, IGOs, CSOs and governments around the world to enable universal access to knowledge, so that it can be used and distributed freely; the World Bank, for example, openly offers their datasets in a freely accessible and reusable format. The Land Portal strives to integrate land-related data from open datasets found all over the web (World Bank, FAO, IFPRI), and provide users with new, insightful perspectives, possible only thanks to the open nature and adoption of common, shared formats for gathering information such as RDF. Collecting and aggregating data also enables campaigners to create powerful (and beautiful) data-driven visualisations: for example the Land Matrix visualisations, Angela Morelli’s dataviz on water, or the infographics on


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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