Urban Land Governance for Sustainable Development
Bridging Land, Water and Natural Resources

Study programme

This specialisation track focuses on how land and natural resources are accessed, managed and how these aspects contribute to, or hinder, the development of equitable and sustainable cities. It tackles the importance of land governance in supporting sustainable and resilient urban development in social, economic and environmental terms.  Key topics include settlement informality, displacement and gentrification. 

The Urban Land Governance for Sustainable Development programme is a specialisation track within the MSc in Urban Management and Development, which offers students the opportunity to tackle the complex, multi-layered challenges of land, water and natural resource management in cities. These challenges are at the root of some of the most pressing concerns facing local governments: local economic development, strategic and physical planning, building social housing, providing infrastructure and basic services, and  initiating poverty reduction measures.  The specialisation track adopts a governance approach to these issues and it emphasizes the nature and behaviour of urban land governance as well as public and private actors that operate in urban areas such as governments, land holders, real estate developers and land brokers. Students will analyse land governance in connection to: land rights and the rule of law; land markets and finance; and the concept of urban resilience in relation to integrated land, water and natural resource management.

The programme is organised in three main clusters:

1. Land, Water and Natural Resources

The sustainable use and management of urban land, water and natural resources is a complex, multilayered challenge: it has environmental, social, political, institutional, legal and economic dimensions. The challenges of urban land and water management cut across sectors and jurisdictions, and as a result, their solutions must be multi-sectoral and cross-jurisdiction in nature. Students will learn how land managers and land developers need to incorporate water and natural resources in their mode of development to achieve proper sustainable cities.

2. Land Rights and the Rules of Law

Understanding the legal framework of land is fundamental to understanding land governance; it is therefore the first entry point to land governance. This course will investigate and explain issues that affect access to land and the consequences of the absence of the rule of law, which include: informal settlement formation; land grabbing; land conflicts; displacement; gentrification; and segregation.

3. Land Markets and Finance

This course covers the basic functions, determinants and principles of urban land markets. It focuses on key land market instruments and how they affect land use, help governments increase revenues, use land markets to directly finance urban development and help them achieve public policy objectives. This theme covers the basic functions, determinants and principles of urban land markets. It focuses on key land market instruments and how they affect land use, help governments increase revenues, use land markets to directly finance urban development and help them achieve public policy objectives.

Download the brochure to read more on these 3 clusters!

Pedagogical games are an essential component of this specialisation, where participants have to devise strategies that combine various land governance and planning policies and instruments, to bring multiple stakeholders and institutions together to work to address urban and peri-urban social, economic and environmental challenges.

Gain an insight into the study programme, the lecturers and student life

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  • At the end of the course participants should be able to:

    • Identify, propose and present strategies (regulations, policies, programmes and instruments) to solve problems associated with land rights, tenure and access to land issues in urban and peri-urban areas.

    • Analyse the nature of complexity in urban land markets, and the need for integrated, cross-jurisdiction solutions to land and environmental challenges.

    • Evaluate the multi-faceted principles of “resilience” and “risk” and the application of these principles to land use, water management and environmental policies in urban areas.

How is your year organized?

In the first and second block, the programme shares courses on urban theory, governance, policy, planning and public-private partnerships, and local government finance and investment with the other specialization tracks. However, student’s assignments within the course modules, as well as the action planning workshop, are always track-specific. In the third block of the programme, courses will only be track-specific and the student will be able to take an elective course. In the fourth block of the programme students will strengthen their research skills through research methods courses and workshops and write their Master’s thesis on a topic relevant to their specialization track. Some example research topics are listed below. Other topics can also be accepted if approved by the coordinators of the specialization track and the thesis supervisor.

  • Land Rights and the Rule of Law Cluster

    • Implementing mixed use developments: a property rights perspective, a case study of Kampala Capital City, Uganda
    • Feeling left out: Investigating the perceived failure of Baltimore's inclusionary housing program through a game theory framework
    • Impacts of large scale land acquisition (land grabbing) by foreign investors and city performance towards the land rights of the indigenous people. Case study Nungwi Zanzibar, Tanzania

    Land Economics and Finance Cluster

    • Land value taxation and land speculation; the case of Sao Paulo, Brazil
    • Infrastructure investment and land value capture: A case study of Ejisu-Juaben Municipal Assembly, Ghana
    • How investments in urban services can be financed by the land value capture instrument "Sale of Development Rights". The case of Curitiba, Brazil

    Land and Water Cluster

    • Blue-Green infrastructure in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: A MOTA analysis
    • The influences of Sponge city on property value in Wuhan, China
    • Room for the Volcano? Shaping the risk management strategies of households in areas prone to Lahar risk in Latacunga - Ecuador
    • Household context and operationalizing urban resiliency objectives. A case study of autonomous household response in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.
    • Blocks 1 & 2 - October to January

      • With over half of the population living in urban areas, rising to 70% in 2050, it is of ever-increasing importance to understand how cities work and evolve. Complex and interrelated economic, social, physical, and environmental processes are constantly transforming cities. Understanding cities, therefore, require us to recognize, define and describe these complex and multidisciplinary processes.

      • Local governments have a key role in the planning and execution of investments and preparation of fundable projects. In some countries, local governments have become increasingly dependent on intergovernmental transfers, which have been shrinking over time in part because of the fiscal constraints. Moreover, investment decisions are at the core of any development strategy. All these and many other aspects of financial investments are addressed in this course.

      •  The Action planning Workshop incorporates the concepts learned during the Urban Governance, Policy, Planning and Public-Private Partnerships (UGPPP) module in a practical, one-week exercise conducted in cooperation with local stakeholders in the city of Rotterdam.

    • Block 3 - January to April

      • Understanding the legal framework of land is fundamental to understanding land governance; it is therefore the first entry point to land governance. This course will investigate and explain issues that affect access to land and the consequences of the absence of the rule of law, which include: informal settlement formation; land grabbing; land conflicts; displacement; gentrification; and segregation.

      • This course covers the basic functions, determinants and principles of urban land markets. It focuses on key land market instruments and how they affect land use, help governments increase revenues, use land markets to directly finance urban development and help them achieve public policy objectives. This theme covers the basic functions, determinants and principles of urban land markets. It focuses on key land market instruments and how they affect land use, help governments increase revenues, use land markets to directly finance urban development and help them achieve public policy objectives.

      • The sustainable use and management of urban land, water and natural resources is a complex, multilayered challenge: it has environmental, social, political, institutional, legal and economic dimensions. The challenges of urban land and water management cut across sectors and jurisdictions, and as a result, their solutions must be multi-sectoral and cross-jurisdiction in nature. Students will learn how land managers and land developers need to incorporate water and natural resources in their mode of development to achieve proper sustainable cities.

    • Block 4 - April to September

      • The research process for the thesis is divided into three main steps:
        • The research proposal
        • Data collection and data preparation
        • Data analysis and thesis writing

        Fuller description TBA.