FIG President Stig Enemark attends FAO/UN-HABITAT Expert Group Meeting on Guidelines for Addressing Land Issues after Natural Disasters

Geneva, Switzerland, 21-23 April 2008

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Richard Trenchard , FAO, Clarissa Augustinus, UN-HABITAT, and Stig Enemark, FIG

FIG President Stig Enemark was invited to attend the FAO/UN-HABITAT Expert Group Meeting (EGM) held at the UN-HABITAT Office in Geneva, 21-23 April 2008.

The meeting was invited by Paul Munro-Faure, Chief, Land Tenure and Management Unit, FAO; and Clarissa Augustinus, Chief, Land, Tenure and Property Administration, UN-HABITAT. The EGM was organised jointly by FAO and UN-HABITAT to contribute to the process of developing Guidelines and a Toolkit for addressing Land Issues after Natural Disasters. The meeting included about 40 invited experts from the UN Agencies, humanitarian organisations, and the land profession. The experts discussed the issues based on a draft for such guidelines provided for FAO-UN-HABITAT by Daniel Fitzpatrick from the Australian National University. The objectives of the meeting were to:

  • Ensure the guidelines meet the needs of the humanitarian community, in terms of structure and key issues identified;
  • Critically review proposed policy options and recommendations on sequencing of interventions; and
  • Review draft toolkit structure and proposed contents.

As a background, it is understood that land is a fundamental resource for recovery after disasters. Land provides a site for shelter, a resource for livelihoods and a place for access services and infrastructure. Secure rights to land are essential to prevent land grabbing, and allow reintegration of displaced persons. Land is therefore a cross-cutting issue in the relief, recovery and development phases of post-crisis programming.

In 2005, the Humanitarian Response Review identified land and property issues as one of the major gaps in the humanitarian response system. In 2007, the Early Recovery Cluster, led by UNDP, decided to prepare clear and simple guidelines to support national and international efforts to address land, tenure and property issues after natural disasters. In response, UN-HABITAT and FAO are collaborating to prepare a set of guidelines and a toolkit for addressing land issues following natural disasters.

The meeting was very productive in discussing the key issues as presented in the draft guidelines. A key focus in the discussion groups was to facilitate a mutual understanding between the humanitarians and the land professionals in the process of early recovery. This process describes the traditional phase the bridges emergency relief and future sustainable development. Early recovery begins in the emergency relief phase, builds on humanitarian programming, and takes advantage of opportunities for sustainable development.

A range of case studies vas provided by consultants including David Stanfield, Grenville Barnes, Robert Home, who also contributed to the discussions from a land professional point of view.

All relevant conference material is available at:

FIG is currently considering how to contribute to best addressing the land issue after natural disasters. This may include a number of activities ranging from policy development in cooperation with the UN agencies to professional support in actual disaster situations in cooperation with other professional organisations.

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David Stanfield, Terra Institute, Madison, Wisconsin, and Grenville Barnes, University of Florida

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Geneva is beautifully surrounded by mountains.


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Expert Group Meeting with about 40 participants discussing the key issues.