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The Governance of Land Use in OECD Countries

Policy Analysis and Recommendations

image of The Governance of Land Use in OECD Countries

Land use has important consequences for the environment, public health, economic productivity, inequality and social segregation. Land use policies are often complex and require co-ordination across all levels of government as well as across policy sectors. Not surprisingly, land use decisions can be contentious and conflicts over land use are common across the OECD. This report argues that better land use governance requires the use of a broader set of public policies to influence land use. In particular, the incentives for particular land uses provided by fiscal instruments and tax policies need to be better aligned with land use objectives. The report furthermore analyses land use patterns across the OECD based on comprehensive land cover data. It shows that developed land is growing everywhere, but great variation exists between countries. Lastly, the report summarises insights from six in-depth case studies to show concrete examples of land use related challenges in OECD countries and the response of national, regional and local governments to them.

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Foreword and acknowledgements

How land is used affects a wide range of outcomes – from day-to-day quality of life, such as the length of commutes, to the environmental sustainability of urban and rural communities, including the possibility for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moreover, the economic importance of land is immense. Land and the buildings on it are approximately seven times as valuable as all other assets taken together and land-use policies play a crucial role in determining land and property prices. Beyond economic value, land also has important sentimental value. Many people are strongly attached to existing neighbourhoods and landscapes in their vicinity. Thus, it is not surprising that land use is often contested and political conflicts about it are common at the local level.

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