Doug’s introduction to Landesa came more than two decades ago when he was a student of Landesa founder Roy Prosterman at the University of Washington School of Law.
“Roy was my property law professor,” said Doug. “And I learned early on that I could divert class discussions toward more interesting global poverty topics.”
His appreciation for the organization’s mission has only grown over the years.
For many years, Doug worked in the clean energy policy arena. In fact, he founded the “China Sustainable Energy Program” for the Packard, Hewlett, and Energy foundations. And through this work, he came to further appreciate the fundamental importance of land rights not just to development and poverty reduction, but also to a myriad of other challenges he felt strongly about.
“The environmental community is working diligently to develop market-based programs aimed at putting a price on carbon,” explained Doug. “But without secure property rights, carbon credits are vulnerable. In fact, every environmental sustainability goal—land conservation, pollution control, technology policy and global warming solutions—all must start with robust property rights. And property rights begin with secure title to land.”
“I view Landesa’s mission as crucial to global poverty alleviation and most importantly, to catalyzing inclusive rule of law, and the development of democratic institutions. There is no more fundamental mission than Landesa’s. In my observation, development, inclusive institutions, and human rights—these all start with secure title to land.”
Doug and his wife Emilie visited Landesa projects in India in 2010 on one of Landesa’s “vision trips” – opportunities to get a very close look at the work.
“The difference in the lives of those who had received land title was astonishing. Within a single year families went from mere subsistence to higher yields, and earned enough cash to send their kids to school, improve their housing and health. The optimism throughout these communities was palpable.”
Because of their conviction that land rights are fundamental to producing public good, Doug and Emilie continue to hold Landesa as their leading philanthropic commitment.