Latin America program director Martim Smolka participated in the 7th International Congress of Investigative Journalism last month in Sao Paulo, where more than 600 journalists and journalism students mixed with 130 speakers and presenters. His presentation, The Relevance of Land Markets for Urban and Social Housing Policies, explored issues including value capture, urban density, the provision of urban infrastructure and services, and windfall benefits to landowners in urban development.
Paulo Henrique Sandroni, former planning director of Sao Paulo, added to the discussion by calling attention to the potential of increases in land value increments to be used for "in loco" (without displacement) upgrading of slums, and the provision of social housing alternatives. Sonia Rabello, a councilor of the Municipal Parliament of the City of Rio de Janeiro, noted the lavish distribution of land value increments in projects associated with the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and was critical of the development process for these mega-events in terms of favoritism to certain private parties, questionable guidelines, and displacement of established residents in some areas.
The 2013 Congress in the fall in Rio is expected to be even more ambitious, together with the Global Investigative Journalism Conference and Latin American Conference of Investigative Journalism, and the Lincoln Institute plans to be there.