Hernando de Soto to Keynote ESRI User Conference

De Soto Will Share How GIS Is Helping the Poor Formalize Their Land Rights

Redlands, California—May 19, 2009—Hernando de Soto, a celebrated Peruvian economist and author and president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), a nonprofit organization based in Lima, Peru, will speak at the 2009 ESRI International User Conference (ESRI UC) in July. De Soto will share how geographic information system (GIS) technology is being used to formalize landownership—an approach he feels is helping the poor take a crucial first step away from poverty.

De Soto says that for some living in poverty, the land they occupy may be their only asset. Without legal recognition of landownership, the owner cannot leverage the land as collateral. This prevents the owner from accessing loans to possibly start a business or improve the property. Many of de Soto’s ideas were put into action less than a year ago when a pilot project in Ghana began using geospatial technologies to create a land titling process and GIS-based land records system. This implementation significantly reduced the time and costs involved in collecting and documenting property ownership information and increased the number of formalized land rights.

"We’re extremely honored to have Hernando de Soto join us as one of this year’s keynote speakers," said ESRI president Jack Dangermond. "We look forward to learning more about his vision and the role GIS is playing in this wonderful method of formalizing landownership for the poor."

Along with earning many awards and accolades, de Soto was selected by Time magazine in 1999 as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century. The magazine also included him among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004. He has published two international best-selling books about economic and political development and is cochair with former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright on the Commission on Legal Empowerment for the Poor.

In addition to de Soto’s Keynote Address, the Ghana GIS-based land registration pilot program will be featured in the ESRI UC special displays. Attendees will gain insight into de Soto’s approach to poverty alleviation and legal empowerment of the poor that has potential for widespread global impact.

The ESRI UC, the world’s largest conference devoted to GIS technology, will be held July 13–17 at the San Diego Convention Center in California. The conference draws thousands of users from across the globe who come together to learn, collaborate, and discover the latest developments in GIS. The conference theme this year is GIS: Designing Our Future. To find out more about the ESRI UC and to register, visit www.esri.com/uc.

About ESRI
Since 1969, ESRI has been giving customers around the world the power to think and plan geographically. The market leader in GIS, ESRI software is used in more than 300,000 organizations worldwide including each of the 200 largest cities in the United States, most national governments, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. ESRI applications, running on more than one million desktops and thousands of Web and enterprise servers, provide the backbone for the world’s mapping and spatial analysis. ESRI is the only vendor that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms. Visit us at www.esri.com.