Geoff is proud to announce that Emma Johnson has joined GPA as an associate as of March 2013. Emma has recently completed a master’s in International Planning and Sustainable Development from the University of Westminster and returned from an internship with UN-Habitat in Bangkok. She is particularly interested in investigating rights-based approaches to development, land tenure issues and mechanisms for effective urban governance.
Geoff wishes to congratulate Isabel on her appointment to the World Bank’s South Asia Development Effectiveness unit. Isabel has been helpful in editing a chapter on the political economy of land markets which Geoff has been completing for a book being edited by Paul Lindert and to be published shortly by Earthscan. She will be based in Washington but working on the South Asia region. Isabel is due to start work in May.
Geoff was invited by the UK Government Chief Scientific Officer, Sir John Beddington, to participate in a Government ‘Foresight’ workshop on the ‘Future of Cities’. The workshop brought together a number of professionals from public, private and civil society organisations and academic institutions to assess what the UK can offer and learn from other countries. The Foresight project will undertake a number of studies over an eighteen month period.
It is with great pleasure that Geoff welcomes Isabel Wetzel (from Germany) who has recently completed a master’s degree at the London School of Economics and an internship in 2012 at UN-Habitat in Nairobi. She will be helping GPA on researching materials for a number of projects whilst she looks for long term career opportunities.
Geoff was invited by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Affordable Housing to participate in an Expert Group Meeting in Naples during 06-07 September on forced evictions and displacement. The meeting was attended by representatives from international development agencies, NGOs, community based organisations (CBOs), academics and consultants.
Aleksei Lugovoi and Venkat Narayanan, postgraduate students in the Erasmus Mundus programme, have successfully completed a two months internship at GPA. During this time they contributed substantially to the collection and processing of information relating to ongoing GPA projects. They also helped considerably in updating the GPA website and contact database and editing project reports. Geoff is extremely grateful for their contribution and company and wishes them every success in the next stage of their studies and in their careers.
It is with great pleasure that Geoff welcomes Aleksei Lugovoi (from Estonia) and Venkata Narayanan (from India) as interns for the period August-September. Both are studying on the M.Sc. International Cooperation and Urban Development (Erasmus Mundus) course at Technical University Darmstadt (Germany), where Geoff was teaching briefly earlier in the year. During their time at GPA, Aleksei and Venkat will assist on various projects and will be able to collect and discuss information relating to their interests in land and housing.
Geoff undertook a second mission to the Solomon Islands from 21 July – 03 August as part of the joint World Bank Justice for the Poor (J4P)/UN-HABITAT project on public land governance in the capital, Honiara. The mission team was led by Victor Vergara, Urban Sector Leader, East Asia Pacific, and included Shaun Williams, Land and Natural Resources Governance Adviser, Justice Reform, Legal Vice Presidency, Sarah MecArtney, UN-HABITAT Programme Manager for the Pacific and Geoff Payne, international adviser.
The mission team met members of the secretariat to the new National Task Force established by the Cabinet in October 2011 in order to discuss support for the Task Force once it has met. The team also met many other stakeholders from private and civil society groups and made presentations to an invited group as a basis for consideration. A tour was also made of the city and surrounding area to see developments on urban land and housing.
The mission then visited Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, where an intensive round of meetings was held with senior officials in the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Lands, a Member of Parliament, the Lord Mayor, Town Clerk, chiefs from the Port Vila Council of Chiefs, the Director of the Department of Local Authorities, planning professionals and staff from AusAid. A tour was also made of the city to see a range of housing types, both formal and informal.
Geoff was invited by the World Bank to act as international adviser to two missions taking place concurrently in India. The first is being led by Ms Bernice van Bronkhorst, with Mr Augustin Maria and is preparing the design of an Informal Settlement Improvement Project.
The World Bank is currently working with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation to provide support to participating states and cities to implement city-wide slum upgrading programs. Specific attention is being given to pilot flexible and innovative approaches towards improving tenure security for the residents of informal settlements. The Project could also provide support to participating states and cities to develop strategies to improve urban land delivery systems. Geoff is contributing to the project on both these aspects.
The second mission addressed land issues, and involved a stocktaking of the Bank’s work on land in India, identifying good practices and scoping out the Bank’s future engagement on land. It focused on land issues in urban and slum settings, industrial development and land administration. The mission was led by Maria Correia, Sector Manager, Social Development Unit, South Asia Region and included a number of colleagues from the Bank offices in New Delhi.
During the mission, visits were made to Bengaluru, Chennia and New Delhi, where meetings were held with a wide range of ministry and local government officials and senior representatives from the private and civil society sectors. Visits were also undertaken to different projects to assess the situations at first hand. The missions were conducted between 23-30 June.
On 29 March, Geoff was invited to be part of the judging panel for the Haiti Research Design Competition organised by Article 25. Details of the competition and the presentations can be found at here.
Geoff has also been elected a trustee of the Article 25 organisation. He looks forward to contributing to the development of the organisation and helping to expand its already extensive activities.
In December, 2011, Geoff was honoured to be invited by his longstanding friend and colleague, Professor Dania Gonzales-Couret of the Instituto Superior Politecnico Jose Antonio Echeverria, to present the keynote paper at the international MACDES Congress held at the Nacional Hotel, Havana, Cuba. Geoff’s paper was titled ‘Social Housing in a Globalising World’. Geoff is immensely grateful to Professor Dania for all the hospitality he received during the Congress and the efforts of her team to make the Congress a great success. To visit the MACDES Congress website, click here. To download his paper, click here.