Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty

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The World Bank was holding its 18th Annual Conference on Land and Poverty from 20 to 24 March 2017. The topic was “Responsible Land Governance: Towards an Evidence Based Approach” and the conference was held at the World Bank in Washington DC.

Having become an unmissable event for policy-makers in the land sector, the Land and Poverty conference is one of the most important international events on land governance. Over 1200 participants were expected, including officials, academics and members of civil society and the private sector. The programme is available at the following link: https://www.conftool.com/landandpoverty2017/sessions.php

This year, the conference was presenting the latest research and experience on land reforms and innovation in the world. Emphasis was on the role of data and examples for establishing effective reforms of land policies, identifying work strategies and the follow-up of achievements.

The European notariat was invited to speak on Wednesday 22 March on the topic “Blockchain – can this new technology really revolutionize the land registry system?”. Mr Dominik Gassen, a German notary and Chair of the CNUE’s New Technologies working group, and Mr Maurice Barbieri, the President of the Council of European Geodetic Surveyors, were able to present their conclusions on the potential of blockchain technology for conducting real estate transactions. The results of their work are available at the following link: http://www.notaries-of-europe.eu/index.php?pageID=15101

Mr Gassen and Mr Barbieri stressed that the use of blockchain technology raises serious security issues, encourages tax fraud and money laundering and does not provide solutions for:
• Document and data storage
• Data transport and data protection
• Issue of certificates and the transfer of ownership to users; genuine authentication (=identification) of users
• Preservation of evidence and encryption
• Protection against key loss
• Sustainable management

Particularly when it comes to the use of the blockchain technology for land registers, it appears that the well-established interplay between cadastre and the land register and especially the role of the notary in the framework of the preventive administration of justice has not been fully understood by the advocates of blockchain-based solutions.

Mr Gassen and Mr Barbieri conclude that, today, this technology seems to be useful only in the context of machine-to-machine communication, e.g. the "Internet of Things" (fridge, lawn mower, car, heating, etc.) because of the high affinity of the blockchain for standards: the more participants and transaction types exist, the more complex the adoption of new standards becomes.