Finnish expertise helps to improve land ownership conditions in developing countries
Global prosperity and well-being are threatened by rapid growth in the world’s population. - In order to ensure that the poorest people in the world have at least reasonable living conditions, we should slow population growth. This would also have an impact on climate change, says Professor Kauko Viitanen, Head of the Department of Surveying.
As chairman of Commission 9 of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), Professor Viitanen has taken a particularly close look at the problems associated with land ownership in the developing countries. Even though his four-year term ended in December, Professor Viitanen is still pondering on how the extensive international network could be used in the future, and how the world-class Finnish expertise in this area could be made into applications helping the developing countries.
- One of the questions is how the Finnish land management expertise could be exported to other countries and continents where it could increase transparency and fairness, he explains and continues:
- FIG and its working groups can help to prevent human suffering and indifference also in the future if they focus on training and cooperation with other international actors in a systematic and networked manner.
Actions for well-being and prosperity
During his chairmanship (2006-2010), Professor Viitanen wanted to make Commission 9 more influential and visible. In practice, this meant the production of publications and reports, holding of seminars, development of training and more cooperation with such partners as FAO, Habitat and the World Bank, particularly in matters concerning compulsory purchase and compensation procedures. An international recommendation on good practices in this area was also published.
The Commission focused on matters concerning land acquisition in urban areas and funding for improvements in slum conditions, and the publications it has produced will be used for professional capacity building and decision-making in various countries. Professor Viitanen mentions the publications ‘Land Acquisition in Emerging Economies’ and ‘Improving Slum Conditions through Innovative Financing’, which like other FIG publications are directly distributed to more than 100 countries and a large number of UN networks.
- As the person in charge of the Commission, I really felt that we were able to promote well-being and prosperity and slow down the spread of unethical practices – or at least ensure that they spread less rapidly, says Viitanen.
Network of experts to support young researchers
Viitanen now wants to share his experience more widely with other partners at Aalto University. Understanding of the synergy of technological, economic, and social issues is essential for young people studying at Aalto University. After all, they are the decision-makers of the future.
Improving the living environments of the poor people is not a simple task and the clock is ticking.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if the proposals for improving the unfair living conditions of the poor people, such as sustainable land management systems, will receive international recognition, says Professor Viitanen.
Kauko Viitanen would like to make use of the network of experts for such purposes as support for young researchers.
- Students need more places for carrying out practical training and funding for writing theses in other countries. In fact, we are planning to continue discussions with the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs on new forms of cooperation,” Professor Viitanen says and continues:
- In a joint effort with Aalto PRO, we are planning training for land-management authorities in Beijing, particularly in matters concerning property and urban economics.”
Text: Leena Jokiranta
Photo: Matti Kurkela