Museologia social e urbanismo VIII

  1. Land Management and planning

Lecturer: Rafael Tuts, Director of Programme Division of UN-Habitat

Discussion prompts:

  1. What role does land as a limited resource play for cities?
  2. How can planning play an important role in managing this limited resource, in a way that is equitable? Chapter 3. Urban Infrastructure and Services.

My name is Raf Tuts. I’m the Coordinator of Urban Planning and Design at United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitats, based in Nairobi.

Today’s lecture will be about Land Management and Planning, and we are going to follow the following concepts. There will be first, an explanation about key concepts about planning and land management with some facts and figures. Then we will zoom in on the challenge of slums in the context of planning and land management. Then a bit of more explanation on two important topics, namely: a. Public Space and b. Mixed Use. And then we will end with talking about the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning before making some concluding remarks.

In the early parts of this century, there was signs of resurgence of urban planning. In Vancouver in 2006, there was a congressional reinventing in planning which sets the scene for much more interest on the power and possible transformation of Urban and Territorial Planning. And this has continued to go up during the last ten years and will now, in the New Urban Agenda (NUA) will certainly get a very important recognisance, as it is one of the key elements of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

Now, in terms of concepts, Urban and Territorial Planning is a decision making process to realise sustainable development through visions, strategies and plans and policies and tools that are participatory and regulatory.

Planning can happen at very different scales from the neighbourhood level where planning is very closely linked with design; to the absolute macro level and where we deal with planning of entire countries or even transnational planning and everything in between; all the different territorial scales in between, that is district planning, city planning, city-region planning, metropolitan planning, regional planning and national-spatial planning.

Very important concept related to planning is inclusion, and inclusion in two senses: inclusion in terms of the outcome of planning to make sure that all groups of society have access to the benefits that cities or human settlements have to give, but also inclusion in the process of planning, which is very key. And both elements have been stressed and I think are indispensable to get good results, in terms of planning.

Cities are very important for the economy. We know that. In some cases, they generate up to 80% of the GDP but if planning fails and infrastructure fails as a result of poor planning, up to 40% of the gains can be lost. So planning is very critical, if it is taken seriously and if it is anchored in legislation and in financing.

The profession of urban planning is unevenly represented across the world. The figures are quite astounding. In Africa, there is an average one planner per 100,000 population. In India it’s even more thinly spread, with one planner for every 400,000 people. But this compares to the 37 planners in the UK for 100,000 population and 12 planners in the United States.

So we can see the extreme uneven spread of the profession of planners across the world. Another important dimension of planning is the fact that planning has now been recognised by the World Economic Forum in their Global Risk Landscape as a Risk Factor.

That the failure of planning is actually a risk to economic, social and environmental prosperity and this significance is on the lines by the fact that more than 60% of the projected urban footprint in 2030, is yet to be built. So it’s an opportunity and a challenge but definitely a risk factor that’s recognised.

Let’s now move to the second part: Land Management, which is a different field. It is a field that deals with the rules, processes and structures to make decisions about the use, access and control over land in which these decisions are implemented and enforced, and how competing interests are managed.

It is very closely linked to planning but it’s a different set of institutions and rules altogether. It includes state structures like land agencies, like courts, ministries but also non-statutory actors like traditional bodies and informal agents. Very important here is to stress the Continuum of Land Rights.

As you can see in the picture, there is a whole linear extreme between Informal Land Rights and Formal Land Rights with lots of different statuses in between. The perceived security of tenure is very different in this Continuum of Land Rights, and often policy makers only tend to look at the Formal Land Rights and forget that there’s a whole set of nuances between the Informal Land Rights and the Formal Land Rights which is important to recognise and to value.

One other concept that is extremely important is the concept of Land-value sharing because decisions about land and investments are creating value. Creating value for the private sector that should partly flow back to the public sector for public investments, and this concept is not equally applied in all countries. It is an indispensable concept for having well-functioning cities and societies.

That, public investment is also partly going back to public infrastructure. If this doesn’t work, if only a small fraction of people will benefit from increased Land-values, then it’s very difficult to build sustainable cities.

Some of the figures related to land are quite shocking. Only about 30% of the plots in developing countries are covered by formal land registration. It is estimated that worldwide there are about 6 billion parcels of land and of those ones, only 1.5 billion parcels are formally registered and have security of tenure in the formal sense. So, with the balance of 4.5 billion parcels, 1.1 billion people live in slums. So this informal land reality is huge, part of it is slums but part of it are other types of informal settlements or informal land parcels.

Also agricultural land. This insufficient provision of land or formalised land has led to the proliferation of informal settlements and slums, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa with 61% of urban dwellers living in informal settlements, which is a huge number and a huge challenge moving forward. And one of the responses to this of governments, is to try to move towards Land Titling, which is indeed of a formal response, which is quite difficult to achieve and many other intermediate measures need to be considered – other different Communal Land Titling and other informal measures to get more secure tenure without going straight into a formal land system.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are taking into account both Land and Planning as an important driver for Sustainable Development. Actually, SDG 1.4 aims at increasing the proportion of the total adult population with secure tenure rights to land with legally recognised documentation, and who perceive their rights to land as secure by sex and by type of tenure.

So you can see clearly that in the definition that has been used to measure, make the progress in terms of land, these nuances are being built-in, which I think is a major achievement for the Sustainable Development Goals. But other parts of the discussion are also well-covered. The issue of slums and the need for upgrading slums and adequate access to housing is very well-covered in SDG 11.1. As well as planning is very well-covered under 11.3, which deals with Participatory Planning and which is also measured in terms of the efficient Land-use in urban and peri-urban areas.

Now I’d like to focus a little bit on two important topics related to Planning and Land-use. One is Public Space, which people take for granted.

But in reality, in some cities, there is as little as 10% or 12% of the area of the city is public space area, which is totally insufficient. We reckon that you need to have between 30 – 45% of the land area in the city as public space area. And this will be including roads, including parks and including other types of public spaces.

If you don’t have that, it is very difficult to plan and to plan for long-term, and to plan for infrastructure. And also if you aim at densifying cities, which is a trend because of the challenges of Climate Change, and if you want more compact cities, you need to compensate with more public space; because compact living needs public space. But if you do not have it, it is extremely expensive to acquire it.

So the emphasis of newly developing cities to provide sufficient percentage of land for public space and be well-designed and well-located, is absolutely critical.

The other point I would like to stress is the importance of Mixed Use. In fact, Zoning which has been part and parcel of the urban planning tools, is perhaps, was never a very good idea because zoning emphasises the specialisation of land-use, the kind of exclusion of only one possible land-use in one location. Whereas we would like to favor a much more mixed use approach, where you would not specify one possible use but you would specify multiple uses that are possible in a certain area up to the level where maybe the nuisance level would be reached. And this allows for a number of things. This allows for much more interaction, possibility to work closer to home and to reduce travel distances.

It will also help planners because it makes the planning profession less demanding, and you do not need the same level of capacity of planners, if you have a mixed use type of arrangement. It allows for much more flexibility as cities are adapting and growing very quickly.

I think a good example is the difference between zoning systems in Japan and in United States, with the United States having a fairly exclusive more functioning zoning systems and in Japan, a much more flexible, multipurpose zoning system.

One of the tools to make change in planning comes from the top. We, at (UN)Habitat, together with member states, have adopted a set of International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning. They were adopted in 2015, and they provide an inspiration for planners and a composite direction on how planning can be reformed.

Because to fulfill these high expectations on planning you need very strong frameworks of planning, and these frameworks need to be designed so that the social, economic and the environmental mission of planning can be realised.

It also needs to take into account of the different roles of the different levels of governments. The governance system of planning is extremely important, and the techniques of planning need to be well-calibrated and well-described. We find that these International Guidelines, when they are applied at a local level, can give good inspiration to review planning legislation.

To conclude this session, I would like to make a few points that provide some challenges for the way forward. What is preventing planning to take a more prominent and influential role, is the lack of understanding of the integrated importance of integration — integration across sectors, integration across spheres of government, across different scales, and across generations. So, this integrated function of planning is often not sufficiently understood.

The second challenge is the growing fuzziness between different territories and different planning authorities that are responsible for these different territories, whereby administrative boundaries are often not equal to natural boundaries or more functional boundaries. And this is something that has plagued the planning profession for years and there needs to be more flexibility, collaboration to be able to overcome this challenge.

And finally, we should say also, that there is still insufficient political will to develop the adequate frameworks and capacities to make planning flourish. But we believe that with the New Urban Agenda and a very strong emphasis on Planning as an Implementation Tool, there is hope for the future.


Sobre Pedro Pereira Leite

Investigador do Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra onde desenvolve o projeto de investigação "Heranças Globais: a inclusão dos saberes das comunidades como instrumento de desenvolvimento integrado dos território".(2012-2107) . O projeto tem como objetivo observar a relevâncias no uso da memória social em quatro territórios ligados por processos sociais comuns. A investigação desenvolve-se em Portugal e Espanha, na zona da Fronteira; em Moçambique e no Brasil. (FCT:SHRH/BPD/76601/2011). É diretor de Casa Muss-amb-iki - espaço de Memórias. Intervém no âmbito de pesquisa de redes sociais de memoria.
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