Customary land tenure: A key area for consideration in development opportunities and challenges in the Pacific Island countries


In 2017, the World Bank launched a report Pacific Possible, which lays out a series of transformative opportunities that exist in the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and challenges requiring immediate action.

Although, the majority of Pacific Possible key areas require some form of access to property, these do not identify that customary landholding is common in PICs and that customary land tenure is an essential area that needs to be considered when exploring development initiatives for PICs. In order to illustrate the need for customary tenure to be considered as an essential area, using the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as examples, this presentation will examine some opportunities identified by Pacific Possible.

The purpose of this presentation is to highlight the importance of customary land tenure and to illustrate that opportunities for development in PICs must not be considered in isolation of customary land tenure issues.


Anne is a PhD candidate at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland where she tutors in Property Law B. She has practised as a solicitor, having most recently worked for the Queensland Law Society and the Legal Practitioners Admissions Board.

Anne was awarded the Hernando de Soto fellowship in 2008 to complete the International Property Rights Index of 2009: a study of global data in property rights to examine the correlation between secure property rights and economic development. She has presented several papers and written a book chapter (due to be released in December 2017, Cambridge University press).