The Rush for Land in an Urbanizing World: From Land Grabbing Toward Developing Safe, Resilient, and Sustainable Cities and Landscapes

Elsevier, World Development, Volume 92, 1 April 2017
Zoomers A., van Noorloos F., Otsuki K., Steel G., van Westen G.

This article aims to contribute to current discussions about “making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable” (SDG 11) by linking debates that are currently taking place in separate containers: debates on the “global land rush” and the “new urban agenda”. It highlights some important processes that are overlooked in these debates and advances a new, socially inclusive urbanization agenda that addresses emerging urban land grabs. The global land rush debate has ignored not only the fact that large-scale land investments take place in a context of rapid urbanization, but also that these investments are often triggered by urban demand, whereas discussions on the new urban agenda prepared for the latest United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) are typically city-biased, and pay little attention to the role of increasing cross-border investment in land and the transformation of the countryside. Using cases from areas where the global land rush and urbanization are simultaneously intensifying in the global South, we identify four areas that should be prioritized in current debates, namely the impacts of land investments on intra-city dynamics, peri-urban dynamics, and the emergence of new cities and new infrastructure corridors.