A large and increasing proportion of people in the urban areas of developing countries are unable to obtain access to legal shelter and are forced to live in various types of unauthorised settlements. Whilst this presents urban authorities with major problems, the situation is even more difficult for the poor themselves. However, various forms of tenure have evolved to meet their needs and create situations in which there is now a continuum of formal, customary and non-formal tenure categories in most cities.
Geoffrey Payne, director of GPA, has been undertaking research on tenure issues since 1989, when he was commissioned to undertake an international review of the subject by the World Bank. Since then, he has carried out research for, amongst others, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in collaboration with the United Nations Campaign for Secure Tenure.
In 1999, GPA was commissioned by DFID and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy in Cambridge, USA to undertake a major international research project on innovative approaches to secure tenure for the urban poor. This included examples from fifteen countries an has resulted in a documentary film called 'Land Rites' which was transmitted on BBC World Television in June 2001 as part of the run-up to the United Nations Istanbul+5 conference in New York. Geoffrey Payne was part of the UK delegation to this conference, at which the film and a media pack summarising the case studies was launched. A book is being prepared for publication at the end of 2001. In 2000, he was invited by the World Bank to present a paper on land tenure and property rights at the bank's annual Urban Forum.