Urban Regeneration: Needs as Opportunites II

Together with the demolition of 5km highline in the City Center of Rio de Janeiro, the immense #culturalheritage value of the area has emerged, improving the attractiveness of the area. #urbanregeneration, #urbanplannig #cities

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Land Value Capture, Urban Regeneration and Social Inclusion

This week I am participating in the World Bank Conference on Land and. In the two panels that I’ve spoken, I’ve highlighted some core ideas about Land Value Capture for Urban Regeneration and Social Inclusion process towards building sustainable cities.

Long Term Urban Improvement Program increases real estate value, allowing the application of LVC instruments. These must be taken as financing tool and urban policy instrument at same time. In a scenario of an increasing demand for urban infrastructure and services, it can improve local administrations planning and investment capacity.

For that some aspects are fundamental:

  • A Long Term Urban Strategy Transformation view
  • The dedicated entity to assure the focused implementation
  • Strong Government commitment in the beginning
  • Strong communication strategy
  • Dialogue capacity
  • Technical capacity – time for preparation
  • Build an environment for investment
  • Balance the urban objectives and financial gains
  • Promote Quick wins
  • Culture and heritage elements appreciation are adding value components for urban regeneration
  • Social Inclusion is fundamental to promote mixed use and integration
  • It is fundamental to work on the subjective dimension – enhancing self-esteem and belonging – for bringing people on board
  • Social inclusion strategy strengths Urban Regeneration Program towards sustainable urban development


Urban Regeneration and Land Value Capture

When there is an improvement on urban space, an increase in land and real estate value comes – immediately or later on. So, why not local administrations take part of that increase to finance the urban infrastructure and services?

This was the main issue approached at the Technical Deep Dive (TDD) on Urban Regeneration and Land Value Capture, in Tokyo, last week, organized by Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC), a collaboration of the World Bank and the Government of Japan.

It was just after the World Urban Forum 9th, that took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, led by UN-Habitat. In this meeting, delegates from governments, multilateral agencies and civil society from all over the world were refining strategies to implement the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the Sustainable Development Goals(SDG), towards sustainable cities. Social and affordable housing, urban mobility, urban environment, culture and heritage are some of the main issues to address. As part of this agenda, the issue on how to finance the sustainable urban development is one of the big challenges for local governments.

Alberto Tokyo

Some of the key elements in terms of context are quite common among the cities, like the sprawl and the local government limited financial capacity.  The continuum sprawl demands more and more expansion of urban infrastructure and public services, and, in many cases leaves brownfield and abandon areas within the existing urban fabric while the cities have no financial autonomy to cover their investment needs.

Those issues were discussed in the TDD with city delegations from Algiers, Barranquilla, Bucharest, Brasov, Colombo, Karachi, Manaus, Tbilisi and Zanzibar, and national delegations from Mexico, Palestine and Togo. Coordinated by Dan Levine, Valerie Joy Santos and Ayat Soliman, from World Bank, the debates were focused on identify instruments and methods of Land Value Capture to apply as funding mechanism for the urban regeneration projects and for building partnerships with private sector. Also, international cases were presented by Dr Jaemin Song (Seoul Metropolitan Government), Candice Damon (HR&A), Michael Cohen (Former director of economic & workforce development for the City of San Francisco), Jim O’Gara (Managing Director, Emerging Markets, Deloit Financial Advisory Services LLP), and myself as former President of Rio de Janeiro’s Port Area Urban Development Company). The group has also visited examples of the application of land adjustment, air rights and TOD in Tokyo, Kawasaki and Yokohama.


During the meeting it was possible to verify different ways to apply instruments. For example, in Japan the air rights are used as a tool for compensation for land owners in land readjustments projects, were part of the land is taken for public needs (parks, roads, public equipment’s); in Brazil, as presented through the Porto Maravilha’s case, the air rights were sale and the funds raised were applied for urban regeneration. In São Francisco, the compensation for new urban regulation came as social and affordable houses and other facilities.

In the majority of the countries, urban and urban land regulation are under local government mandate. It means that even in the cases that some of the instruments for land value capture are not in place, it is possible to create such types of regulation. In certain cases, like in Brazil, for example, they already exist, however their application are very rare. So, it is still a challenge to demonstrate the potentialities of these instruments for helping local governments for urban planning and management.

It was very inspiring days sharing the experiences and desires from cities with so different contexts. Among the lessons raised by the participants and reflected in their action plans, the potentiality for generating value using urban regulation were emphasized, which can increase the local government’s autonomy to implement urban policies. Also, many different ways for private sector’s engagement were presented. Another relevant lesson from the case studies were the need for strong engagement form the mayors.

However, it is very important to highlight that the application of these instruments must be based in a city’s long-term view and strategy in order to assure that the gains from the project represents better urban environment and improves peoples’ quality of life.