Andre Albuquerque

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2009


This profile was prepared when Andre Albuquerque was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
André created Terra Nova in 2001 to solve conflicts and promote peace between landowners and squatter communities engaging these communities and the public sector in the local development. Part of Terra Nova’s work focuses on empowering these groups to assume responsibility for paying for their newly acquired land titles upon the resolution of disputes. Terra Nova helps individuals do this by offering loans that are paid back over several years through small monthly installments. Meanwhile, landowners are paid upfront by Terra Nova for their properties.

André allocates 20 percent of mortgage payments by loan recipients to a fund that promotes socio-economic and environment-friendly development within the participating communities. The distribution of those funds to local projects is decided on collectively by community associations with the help of Terra Nova. As a result of his work, communities previously regarded as invaders and third class citizens are now recognized as legitimate landowners with private property rights.

To accomplish this, André uses law and local governance strategies. Terra Nova works closely with landowners, squatters, and government authorities to settle conflicts long deadlocked in the courts through mediation, so agreements can be reached and accepted by all involved parties. As a result, landowners receive fair compensation for their property losses, and informally settled communities are finally given the chance to acquire land titles that improves their economic security. The mediation process also allows government bodies to eschew costly and protracted land expropriation methods and use public funds more effectively to address municipal development needs.

Eight years after its inception, Terra Nova now operates in five states in Brazil, as well as in the Federal District, and reaches 28 communities and some 30,000 families. Currently, André is working to expand its operations to include cases involving families forcibly displaced due to infrastructural construction projects. With support from the World Bank, André plans to spread his operations to every state in Brazil by 2010. Within ten years, he hopes to have replicated Terra Nova’s methodology in several other developing countries.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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