Statistics on global land issues are stark: 70% of land and property in the developing world is un-registered and outside formal markets; 90% of residential and commercial property in Africa is untitled and land and property transactions are high on the global corruption index.
Land professionals generally understand the challenges faced by rapid urbanisation, demographic change and the development of revolutionary new business models together with changing global cash flows for real estate transactions. Technology is also developing and providing new and innovative solutions that are altering working practices and changing the requirements and expectations of clients. Added to these complex challenges are issues ranging from land grabbing, tenure vulnerability, ineffective land administration, and corrupt governance together with a lack of professional capacity. At the very core of these multiple land issues is the lack of a consistent, global and easily understood standard on land measurement.
Data that is “fit for purpose” is a key concept, but there must be an underlying measurement specification and standard to act as a “filter” for all kinds of data. The pressure on land measurement systems, professional surveyors, land professionals, registries and cadastres is set to increase as crowdsourcing, the use of drones, “fit for purpose” concepts and lack of funding for national agencies becomes more widespread. Without a standardised, high level approach the chances of land data confusion in the property investment sector is likely to lead to investment paralysis.
As a profession trying to understand what the future might hold, RICS published, in April 2015, a futures paper “Our Changing World: let’s be ready”. The report has in many ways helped change perceptions of our profession on the world stage. However, the surveying sector is still not viewed as favourably as others in terms of ethics, innovation, change and work on sustainability.
While the role and skills needed by land and property professionals are changing, it will need to change further and faster: employers are concerned about talent; and the need for collaboration with other professions is becoming increasingly important – this is not the time to be isolationist.
In 2014 a global coalition of interested parties held its first meeting in New York to work on the creation of International Ethics Standards (IES), currently at draft consultation stage. The 2015 World Bank Land conference highlighted the unacceptable risks associated with inconsistency in basic land information, which undermines social/political cohesion, economic development and investor confidence. The inaugural meeting of the International Land Measurement Standard (ILMS) coalition took place at UN FAO in Rome, in June 2016, and is moving towards the formation of a Standards Setting Committee to explore and develop the ILMS standard.
It is against this background that the “profession” needs to take a really positive leadership role on the world stage and provide standards, particularly in measurement and ethics, that can be easily understood and reported upon to international investors in real estate.
Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org