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Land is a finite resource and competition for it is intensifying because of rapid urbanization, growing populations, economic development, persistent insecurity of food, water and energy, and the effects of conflicts and disasters. The divide between urban and rural is diminishing. These areas are today interconnected by flows of goods, money, resources and people. Climate change and different land-use patterns also affect rural areas, including farmland, drylands, wetlands and forests.
Given that by the middle of this century 70 per cent of the world’s people will live in urban areas, cities need to adapt to urban expansion (Angel, 2011) and there is therefore an urgent need to prepare for growth and its related land requirements. This calls for a realistic projection of urban land needs and innovative responses. Rural land also needs to be managed cautiously. Pressure on rural land is increasing as a result of a rising world population, climate change, declining soil fertility and the need for global food and fuel security.
On the global platform, the land question is critical to the achievement of a wide range of development outcomes, including the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Besides SDG Goal 11: ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ that UN-Habitat is championing, land is also implied in several other proposed goals that relate to the sustainable use of natural resources and several depend on the use of additional land resources: Goal 2 on food security, Goal 7 on energy supply, Goal 12 on production and consumption, and Goal 15 on the sustainable use of ecosystems.
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