Letter from the Board Chair

Land tenure is the issue of our time. I’ve been sure of this ever since I first started working with Landesa. But for anyone who doubts the supreme importance of this issue or the transformative power of land rights, the evidence is visible every day.

Consider the litany of major global challenges we face: food security, climate change, women’s empowerment, poverty, education, nutrition. Each of these challenges intersects with land and property rights.

If we want to tackle any of these challenges in a serious and sustainable way, land rights needs to be part of the equation. This deepens my appreciation for Landesa’s work and my commitment to this cause.

Despite the magnitude of this work and its potential, Landesa remains one of the quiet wonders of the Pacific Northwest. Partly because they are so humble. Never mind that this is an incredibly exciting field during a historic and critical time, they quietly partner with governments and give all the credit away.

That is their way.

And so it falls to me, as Landesa’s board chair, to sing their praises and call attention to their amazing impact.

“When ordinary people have a say in their own future, then your land can’t just be taken away from you. And that’s why reforms must ensure that the people of this nation can have that most fundamental of possessions—the right to own the title to the land on which you live and on which you work.”
– Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, in an address at the University of Yangon in Myanmar on November 19th, 2012.

Over the last four decades, Landesa has partnered with governments to help more than 100 million families and they intend to help another 20 million families by 2016.

It is an audacious goal. But it is also a completely realistic one because Landesa partners with governments to change national laws and changing entire legal systems. Therefore, such an impact is not just possible – it is absolutely achievable by design.

And it is all accomplished with little fanfare and only modest resources.

This is a time for optimism. A growing number of policy makers and officials worldwide see in their daily newspaper the same thing I see – proof that land rights are critical to development and that women’s land rights, in particular, are central to poverty reduction.

With your support, Landesa can continue to transform lives, communities, and nations.


Mike McGavick
Board Chair

“I am convinced that we need to focus more than ever on the building blocks that take countries from poverty to prosperity. The absence of conflict and corruption. The presence of property rights and the rule of law. We should never forget that for many in the world the closest relative of poverty is injustice.”
– David Cameron, British Prime Minister, at the 67th UN General Assembly on September 26th, 2012.