Land Policy at Habitat III


The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development

Who Will Pay for the Urban Future?

For billions of people worldwide, quality of life will depend on the way cities grow over the coming decades, and sustainable development starts with sound land policy. Cities and regions can expand in ways that contribute to a better economy and quality of life, or they can succumb to sprawl, gridlock, and pollution. When urban development and public investment raises the value of land, cities can reinvest the gains in public works or affordable housing, or they can allow this value to escape as windfalls for private landowners, causing inequality to fester.

The Lincoln Institute has been engaged in the preparations for Habitat III since 2014, with a focus on helping cities make the most of land, both spatially and fiscally. We have served as a co-lead of the Habitat III Policy Unit on Municipal Finance and Local Fiscal Systems, helped lead the General Assembly of Partners Research and Academia Partner Constituent Group, served as a member of the U.S. National Committee for Habitat III, and provided expertise to the Policy Unit on Urban Spatial Strategies: Land Market and Segregation. With the adoption of a draft New Urban Agenda in September 2016, we are now focused on the critical work of implementation.

Key Challenges

Cities need the capacity to fund public services and invest in infrastructure
Land-based finance tools provide cities with sustainable own-source revenues
Monitoring the quality and spatial dimensions of urban growth will be critical to planning for an urban future
After Habitat III, what comes next?