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Message from the President

H. James Brown, April 1, 2002

This issue of Land Lines highlights many aspects of the Institute’s international education program. We are engaged with colleagues around the world who share our interests in land and tax policy issues, which are often the most critical issues facing developing and transition countries. Policy makers, academics and citizens look to the Lincoln Institute for guidance and training on both the policy and practice of land use planning and development and the valuation and taxation of land and buildings.

However, I believe our international program can also provide important lessons for U.S. policy makers. For example, the participatión en plusvalías in Colombia is an effort to capture for public benefit the land value increments that result from public actions, such as infrastructure investment. The fairness of this policy seems very persuasive, and the Colombian effort to implement a practical instrument to capture this value can provide important insights.

Over the past six years, most of the Institute’s international work has been in Latin America and the Caribbean. Extensive networks of colleagues help us clarify the issues, identify partners, convene appropriate audiences and develop relevant pedagogical materials that supplement our basic curriculum. In learning from them we have been instrumental in fostering the debate on land and tax policy and have had a real impact in the region.

The Institute is also actively engaged with colleagues facing the challenges of implementing new tax policies in South Africa and Eastern Europe. The editors of a new Lincoln Institute book on property taxation in South Africa are using that volume in a series of seminars and workshops with municipal officials this spring, thus providing direct input to legislation now being debated in that country. Another recently published book by Institute faculty offers a comparative analysis of property taxation in six Central and Eastern European countries whose economies are in transition from a centralized to a market-based system.

The Institute also has a 30-year relationship with the Republic of China, in conjunction with the International Center for Land Policy Studies and Training, and we are beginning a new program in the People’s Republic of China through the Ministry of Land and Resources with Beijing and Renmin universities and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

On a sad note, the Institute, Brazil and the world mourn the loss of Mayor Celso Daniel of Santo Andre, a city near São Paulo. He was tragically assassinated in January. Daniel had been a regular faculty member in our courses in Brazil and throughout Latin America. He was a progressive mayor and leader of the Workers Party in Brazil, and in 2000 he was re-elected for the third time with over 70 percent of the votes cast. He was a wonderful person and a close friend who will be missed.

In these turbulent times in so many countries worldwide, we will continue to reach out to those who are taking leadership roles in forging new alliances within their cities and regions to develop the most appropriate land use and taxation policies and practices.