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André L. Cavalcanti de Albuquerque

Bringing peaceful resolution to conflicts is a life mission for lawyer André Albuquerque. Standing against the tide of people who recriminate against profit in Brazil, he established Terra Nova as a social business. His idea is to capitalize those who have no access to funds. When occupants become owners they can obtain bank loans, and when a community becomes a legally recognized entity, it gains the right to improvements, such as paved streets and a sewerage system.

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Terra Nova Regularizações Fundiárias
For-profit Social Enterprise
Cities and Urbanization
Areas of Impact
Latin America, Brazil

Terra Nova Regularizações Fundiárias

André Albuquerque founded Terra Nova as a social enterprise committed to the sustainable regularization of illegally occupied properties in urban areas. Terra Nova acts as an intermediary between legal land owners and land occupiers, to discover a positive solution for both sides. The regularization of these dwellings has usually depended on actions by the public sector, which is overwhelmed and underfinanced. Government policies, when carried out, have been restricted to expropriations and urbanization services.

Regularizing land ownership is expensive and not an attractive priority for politicians. Terra Nova was founded to resolve conflicts that had dragged on in the courts for years. The land regularization process brings a final resolution to the conflict between landowners and occupants. Property rights are transferred to the occupants after payment of an indemnity and the title deed goes to the current occupants of the plots. Landowners are exempted from having to pay taxes accruing on the occupied area. For each plot of land negotiated, 40% of the indemnity payment goes to Terra Nova and 20% into a clearance fund used for projects within a community. The remainder goes to the original property owner who accepts the deal, even if depreciated, to avoid long court cases that languish in the judicial system and rarely guarantee the return of the property.

In all the communities regularized by Terra Nova, the quality of life for low-income families has improved. When title deeds are awarded, the local community government starts to supply water, electricity, a postal code, basic sanitation, and public transport to the residents. This partnership represents a historic milestone in the country, as the state changes its role from provider to supporting player in an initiative promoting improvement in the lives of those most in need. Terra Nova negotiates directly with public authorities for structural improvements in the regularized neighbourhoods and indirectly by encouraging the formation of neighbourhood associations.


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