Developing sustainable land use policy

Planning sustainable land use
Investigate, formulate and implement integrated land-use planning approaches that include multiple natural resource activities which are compatible with and which complement the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Land use represents a critical intersection of the economy and the environment, because changes result primarily from economic decisions.

The average consumer in industrial countries makes use of approximately twice as much agricultural land as the inhabitant of a developing country.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

Agenda 21 recommends promoting sustainable land use planning and management by:< (a) accelerating efforts to promote access to land by the urban and rural poor, including credit schemes for the purchase of land and for building/acquiring or improving safe and healthy shelter and infrastructure services;< (b) developing integrated goal-setting and policy formulation at the national, regional and local levels which takes into account environmental, social, demographic and economic issues;< (c) study and design of regional policies to support programmes for land-use and physical planning;< (d) improving land-use policies and practices for more sustainable land productivity.

1. A discussion on sustainable land use should not begin with the rich, but in the poor countries where the principal objective is the striving for food security and preservation of the productivity of agricultural systems.

2. Existing trade policies damage the prospects for sustainable agriculture in developing countries, notably through the short-term promotion of export crops from the South, the dumping of subsidized exports ( [eg] EEC/EU beef in West Africa and cereals in many sub-Saharan countries), and the increasing limits placed by GATT on actions to promote food security, particularly by small farmers.

3. The debt burden in many developing countries, the resulting structural adjustment programmes and the flow of resources from South to North is creating powerful pressures to exploit natural resources and disrupt local agricultural production patterns for the sake of export crops, and the substitution of inappropriate high-input, high-output farming systems.

4. A policy which aims at reducing land use must be constructed differently from one which aims to reduce mineral resource use. For example, contrary to the situation with fossil fuel use, land resources are not tradable.

Land type/use
Sustainable development
Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies