Global Land Use Survey

From July 2018 to January 2019, The Urban Law Center engaged seven Urban Law Student Fellows (ULSFs) in a research collaboration with UN-Habitat on a Global Land Use Survey.  The Legislation Unit of UN-Habitat developed a questionnaire for this survey, consisting of seventeen questions facilitating data collection in three thematic areas for a pre-selected global sample of 200 cities around the world: a) Urban Areas; b) Urban Plans and Public Space; and c) Institutional Capacity. The data gathered from the research was intended to assist with planning systems for UN-Habitat to implement the New Urban Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Applying the questionnaire, the Urban Law Center’s ULSFs drafted land use reports for seven U.S. cities including Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; and Toledo, Ohio.

A sample report can be found here

Effectiveness of Planning Law in Land-Rich Developed Countries

The aforementioned land use reports drafted by the Urban Law Center's ULSF's for the Global Land Use Survey was utilized by UN-Habitat to help generate its latest publication about physical planning law, Effectiveness of Planning Law in Land-Rich Developed Countries


UN-Habitat has conducted an objective, evidence-based assessment on the application of physical planning laws in 18 cities of the Land-Rich Developed Countries Region. The selection of cities is based on the UN Global Sample of 200 cities as a statistically and regionally representative dataset. The study considers whether the law is being applied as written and informs the discussion on the effectiveness of legislative design.

This publication portrays the findings from the study with empirical data on growth boundaries, population density, compliance with spatial planning and zoning, land management and staffing capacity.  City managers in Land-Rich Developed Countries can use this information to rethink the sustainability of their urbanization model and to help them create systems that can result in equity, shared prosperity and environmental sustainability. These are key principles embodied under the New Urban Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly Goal 11.

View a copy of the free e-book here

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