Land Development - international

Land development (German "Landentwicklung") doesn’t exist as item within the terminology of the international organisations. Neither the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) nor the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) nor the European Union (EU) use the item "land development"; in that context regularly "rural development" (German "Ländliche Entwicklung"), land management (German "Landmanagement" or "land consolidation" (German "Flurbereinigung") are used.

Land development as scope of duties grew up during the seventies of the 20th century within Western European countries having a long tradition regarding land consolidation (Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France). Through the item land development the change from a sector-oriented, farm-focussed land consolidation to an integrated land consolidation should be described. The duty land development took in view the whole rural space with its broad economical, ecological as well social and cultural entanglements. Meanwhile this item got entrance in usage, legislation and even institutional titles at national level ("Agency for Land Development" = Amt für Landentwicklung,  "German Federal Working Group Sustainable Land Development" = Bund-Länder-Arbeitsgemeinschaft Nachhaltige Landentwicklung).

As well in scientific literature as in daily usage the terminological definition between "land development", "land consolidation", "land management" and "rural development" are blurred and at the boundaries fluent. A generalizing and mediating categorisation of field of actions within spatial planning concerning rural areas shows the "Onion Land Development".

Onion Land Development. © Thomas

The respectively larger field of action contains the previous objectives and is distinguished by a bigger instrumental and, if need be, institutional frame.

In global view "rural” (German “ländlich”) means “poverty”. Two third of all hungering people in the world live in rural areas.

In far parts of the world the most important duty is satisfying of the existential human basic needs through healthy water, sufficient nutrition and humane homes; but in many countries the people remain far behind the right to a self-dependent life with employment, health care and education. All that isn’t feasible without a solution of the „land question“, that is access of the population to land as basis for subsistence farming on satisfying the basic needs at least.

Within the civil war regions the treatment with real property and land tenure rights of the deprived citizen groups and refugees and the restitution of legally regulated circumstances is a crucial prerequisite for reconciliation between the ethnic groups and for an economic recreation of the commonwealth.

Rural development represents not at all a challenge for the poor and poorest countries of the third world; in Central and East European countries (CEEC) and in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) it is necessary to execute the transition process from the former socialistic planning system to a free market-oriented system and to flank the current land reforms, particularly within rural areas, by conclusive developing policies and efficient administrative measures. Thus, the „land question“ and its good governmental solution are standing in the centre of public interest.

Finally, in the highly developed economies the tasks of rural development are facing up permanently new. It is necessary to solve the “land question” within the tension field between unlimited availability of the owners over their land and the statutory regulation or even expropriation by the state/ society for public interests depending on the social and economic frame conditions concerned.

Following supra-national organisations are dealing substantially with rural development:

World Bank – (www.worldbank.org) as specific organisation of the United Nations pursued originally the objective of financing the reconstruction of the destroyed countries after the Second World war. Actually World Bank is promoting lower developed countries by financial support, consulting as well as technical help and contributing to implementation of international developing goals, for instance the “millennium goals 2000” of the United Nations (www.un.org/millenniumgoals); that occurs predominantly by long-term loans for investment projects, comprehensive reform programmes and technical help under particular support of privatisation endeavours of the countries concerned. Yearly a World Development Report is published which is dedicated to specific actual themes; the World Development Report 2003 of the World Bank was dealing with rural areas.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe - Working Party on Land Administration (UNECE-WPLA) – (www.unece.org/programs/hlm.htm) dealt originally with specific support for countries in transition by establishing land register and real property cadastre systems; meanwhile land management issues got entrance in the agenda and even in the title of its Sector Committee “Housing and Land Management”. Within the UNECE WPLA the “German Federal Working Group Sustainable Land Development” (GFWG) is present by its Commissioner for International Affairs through contributions to rural development, land consolidation and land readjustment. UNECE WWPLA is editing papers and guidelines on Land Administration, implements two workshops per year dealing with actual issues on land administration and land management and elaborates countries profiles (CP) and status reports (“Land Administration Review - LAR”) on request of CEECs concerned. Regularly a representative of the GFWG is working with and elaborates land reform, land management and rural development contents.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) – (www.fao.org) occupies traditionally agricultural and rural areas’ issues as well global nutrition circumstances. The Land Tenure Office at FAO has in view specific questions regarding land tenure, land use as well its redesign by land reforms, land use planning and land readjustment. Through workshops, international conferences, feasibility studies and specific publications the Land Tenure Office initiates guiding impulses for a sustainable development in rural areas. Within the Central and East European countries a particular importance is apportioned to land consolidation; that is expressed by a proper publication row (“LAND TENURE STUDIES”).

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - (www.oecd.org) – is dealing with development of rural areas, too. OECD is the only forum, in which the governments of 30 democratic states are active in order to meet the global challenges in economy, social and environmental affairs. The report “The new paradigm for the rural space” determines the challenges, which policy and administration have to manage through promoting an integrated rural development. OECD observes and analyses the economic development within European subspaces and evaluates the interventions which have been undertaken by governments concerned; in country reports these findings are broken down to the national level.


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