By Mike Kubzansky, CEO, Omidyar Network
(Image credit: CMAP/cmapping.net)
Today we are pleased to mark the official launch of PlaceFund, an independent US nonprofit organization focused on addressing issues of insecure property rights, unsustainable land use, and climate change. Built off a decade as the Property Rights initiative at Omidyar Network, PlaceFund will operate under the leadership of Peter Rabley and Amy Regas, who will be leaving Omidyar Network to run this venture, and they will take our shared commitment to property rights and geospatial technology into the new decade.
Omidyar Network’s commitment to property rights began ten years ago, and we are honored to have been able to play a catalytic role in helping build and innovate in this important sector. Our property rights portfolio – which will continue to be managed by PlaceFund – has supported innovative approaches and new technologies that have fundamentally changed the sector. For example, we partnered with DFID to co-create Prindex, the first-ever globally comparable data set on land tenure security. This year, Prindex will publish data from 140 countries, finally painting an evidence-based picture about the extent and nature of the status quo assumptions about the extent and nature of property rights security globally. Or consider MicroAerial, which is using drone technology to produce both urban and rural maps in Ghana. Our support and incubation of Cadasta led to the creation of an accessible digital record of land and resource rights of marginalized populations. Cadasta currently includes records for 1.7 million people from 17 countries, and aims to reach 8 million people and 30 countries by 2023. These are just a sample of the impact this portfolio has already contributed to – and a harbinger of the continued impact that we expect these organizations to continue to drive under the stewardship of PlaceFund.
This is the latest in a series of planned spin-outs of Omidyar Network initiatives, designed to enable our former initiatives to address global challenges as nimbly and decisively as possible, and for Omidyar Network to have the freedom to shift our focus more upstream to societal challenges at the systemic level. Over the past 18 months, we have watched our colleagues build Spero, Luminate, Flourish, Omidyar Network India, and now PlaceFund. This launch recognizes our collective commitment to continued innovation in property rights, and we are pleased to provide them seed funding to stand up a new kind of organization for this sector. We know that they will continue to pursue entrepreneurial solutions to the challenges facing not only property rights worldwide, but also the interrelated fields that are critical to the success of the sector, such as climate change. We look forward to watching their continued success and working together for years to come on these essential challenges.