In this century citizens and policy makers across the world have paid growing attention to the problem of equity. The causes of inequitable development are numerous and manifest across multiple scales. Solutions must therefore be similarly pursued at multiple scales. At the local level, the equity issues that municipal and regional governments must address include access to housing, provision of transportation, access to food and health care, and payment of living wages. These issues are inexorably tied to the use of land and the spatial pattern of development. Equitable land policies, therefore, can and must play an important role in increasing equity in the global economy. Toward that end, we offer case studies of innovative land policies across 11 urban regions of the world that show how governments are addressing equity issues. These cases come from South America, Africa, Europe, and North America. The cases show how progress toward an equitable city can be made via policy at multiple levels and in multiple international contexts.

Even though these case studies vary greatly in their metropolitan context and international geography, some consistent policy themes emerge. Several jurisdictions are trying innovative housing programs to increase equity, as in Copenhagen, Addis Ababa, and Montgomery County. Other cities, like Medellín, Dar es Salaam, Santiago, Budapest, and Minneapolis are exploring changes to planning process and governance, to further equitable development via various methods. Lisbon’s transportation investments, Johannesburg’s equitable TOD program, and São Paulo’s land value capture policy show the impacts that land use and fiscal policies can have on the landscape of social equity in the metropolitan region.

Editorial team
  • Gerrit Knaap, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Zorica Nedovic-Budic, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University College Dublin
  • Brendan Williams, University College Dublin
  • Nicholas Finio, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Willow Lung Amam, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Elijah Knaap, San Diego State University