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Earth Rights Policies

We have a "land problem." Nearly every one of us lives someplace where land values and hence housing costs are rising faster than wages. Hundreds of millions are homeless, low income working people struggle to pay the rent each month, and middle class people labor for decades to pay off mortgage debt. There is an enormous worldwide wealth gap between the super rich and the rest of us. Too few people and corporations now "own" our planet.

Treating land as a for-profit and speculative commodity instead of a common heritage resource is a major flaw in the neoliberal economic paradigm. We want a FAIR market economy with lots of individual and family owned businesses and decentralized, productive, well-managed cooperatives that care about both the people and the planet.

Earth Rights Institute and our worldwide network of "new economics" partners has a handle on a key policy for building a fair economy—take taxes off working people and productive businesses and capture for the benefit of everyone the "unearned income" which attaches to land and natural resources. Research by land economists shows that this kind of "rent" is as much as one third of GDP in some countries—a more than adequate tax base to pay needed public services and even then some which could be distributed as direct citizen dividends.

Those who enclose more than their fair share of the planet should pay rent to the rest of us! We call for a new covenant between we the people and our governments. We call for equal rights to the planet as our birthright. We call for earth rights democracy!

The UN Habitat Agenda Section B.55 states: "Access to land and legal security of tenure are strategic prerequisites for the development of sustainable human settlements affecting both urban and rural areas. It is also one way of breaking the vicious cycle of poverty. Every Government must show the commitment to promoting the provisions of an adequate supply of land in the context of sustainable land-use policies..."

Land Value Capture, recommended by the UN Habitat Action Agenda put forward by all UN member states, helps secure a number of benefits including affordable land access, fairer distribution of wealth, basic needs production, and public funds for infrastructure, education and other services.

Earth Rights Institute's team of land value capture experts is now working in partnership with the UN Habitat Global Land Tool Network launched at the 2006 World Urban Forum in Vancouver. We are developing Land Value Capture Consultation and Training Programs which will soon be available to local, state and national governments. Please contact us directly for further details.