Metropolitan Governance for Land Use: Revisiting Current Practices and Alternative Approaches to Face the New Challenges


The centrality of land use to many decisions that affect metropolitan urban development is often underestimated. Yet there are limits to economic, social, and environmental sustainability that can be prolonged by poor governance of land use. Rapid urbanization is often accompanied by short term, uncoordinated sprawling land development, leading to inefficient and inequitable socioeconomic outcomes and impacting the spatial distribution of public urban infrastructure and services. A prime role for land use norms and regulations is to facilitate synergies from different land uses while preventing negative externalities. Yet, there are unintended effects. This chapter analyzes the effects of uncoordinated land use on economic, social, and environmental sustainability. It specifies urban policy tools used to improve the governance of land use in metropolises, discusses alternative policies and their implementation, and presents some institutional framework options to support a changing approach. In special, it highlights the role of national governments in promoting such structures — in the form of incentives or regulations—to try to boost the sustainability of urbanization in metropolises.


Cynthia Goytia is a Professor and Head of the M.Sc. in urban economics at Torcuato Di Tella University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She also chairs the Urban Policy and Housing Research Center (CIPUV). Goytia has developed a relevant and influential body of academic research on urban policies, housing, and land markets, published in specialized publications and books, some of them recently released in Chinese. She holds an M.Sc. in urban economics and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in the United Kingdom. She has lectured at the University of Cambridge, LSE, and the Institute of Housing Studies. Goytia is David Rockefeller Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. A consultant to Argentine and other Latin American governments, and fellow to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, she also works for the World Bank, United Nations, Inter-American Development Bank, and CAF – Development Bank of Latin America.