Monday, April 3, 2017

Responsible Land Governance in Urban Areas

Land governance concerns the rules, processes and structures through which decisions are made about the use, access to and control over land, the manner in which the decisions are implemented and enforced, and the way that competing interests in land are managed. It encompasses statutory, customary and religious institutions. It includes state structures such as land agencies, courts and ministries responsible for land, as well as non-statutory actors such as traditional bodies and informal agents. It covers both the legal and policy framework for land as well as traditional and informal practices that enjoy social legitimacy [16].

In most countries, there is a lack of reliable land information, especially around land use planning, zoning and administration, which negatively affects urban planning and design, infrastructure and socio-economic development. Effective land management and administration initiatives are frequently hampered by complex and vague legal frameworks, corrupt institutions, and inadequate human and financial resource capacity. Power imbalances in urban and peri-urban areas are prevalent. Urban and peri-urban areas host poor populations, often without any formal education or knowledge about their rights. They must negotiate for better land and property rights with the more educated and informed individuals in society. Sometimes these individuals misuse their positions of power for their own private individual benefit. In such an environment, it is difficult for the vulnerable and marginalized to realize and defend their rights [17].

Improving land governance is an urgent issue because pressures on competing interests for land is intensifying due to rapid urbanization, growing population, economic development, food insecurity, water and energy shortage, and the effects of conflicts and disasters. Effective land value sharing has the potential for generating wealth for the cities but needs to be balanced with equitable policies and approaches that will benefit all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

When properly functioning, fit-for-purpose land administration systems can support tenure security, urban planning, service delivery, agricultural development, environmental management, and effective land management.

Well-planned, land-based financing policies can incentivize compact and connected development, keep rents down by minimizing speculation, and encourage an adequate supply of built space. Effective city planning and the development of sustainable buildings and services can prevent the growth of informal settlements and sprawl, and thus ensure that land, nature resources, human health and well-being, and the environment are protected [18].

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