Exploring Integrated Assessment Approaches
Edited by Desmond McNeill, Ingrid Nesheim and Floor Brouwer
Floor Brouwer, Ingrid Nesheim and Desmond McNeill UNDERSTANDING LAND USE POLICIES AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT The urgency to enhance sustainable development (SD) in developing countries is at its peak: in many cases poverty levels are growing and food security is deteriorating; land conversions are uncontrolled; loss of biodiversity through land use change is high; pressure on forested areas is high; and land reforms are vital to sustain productivity, reduce food vulnerability, alleviate poverty and conserve forests. This urgency is expressed globally through various explicit commitments and interventions: notably the delineation (UN, 2000) and assessments (MEA, 2005) of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Research on the impact of land use policies on the sustainable development of developing countries is complex, and it is essential that we properly understand this. Land use policies are key to the achievement of the MDGs. As Vosti and Reardon (1997) state, policy makers in developing countries are faced with the need to pursue three challenging goals simultaneously. Agricultural production must grow to keep up with rapidly increasing populations; and increased crop production will have to come from higher yields, not more land under the plough. Poverty alleviation is essential, for poverty ruins livelihoods, increases food insecurity and undermines development, the environment and political stability. At the same time, our natural resource base must not be destroyed, but must be used in a more sustainable manner. The successful implementation of land use policies has in the past often been hampered by the fact that we simply do not...