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Managing Urban Spatial Growth

Chapter 5 | Conclusions and Recommendations

This chapter draws conclusions and provides recommendations about three areas where the World Bank can enhance its relevance and effectiveness when helping countries manage urban spatial growth. The conclusions summarize the key constraints identified in chapter 4, and the recommendations suggest ways the World Bank can overcome these constraints.

The World Bank’s support for urban spatial growth is not sufficient to prevent urban sprawl or slum formation. The World Bank global strategy and current framework on urban spatial growth do not fully reflect the commitments to SDGs 1 and 11, the New Urban Agenda, or advances in technology during the past decade. The World Bank country strategies that address urban development do not highlight the overarching issue of urban spatial growth, even though they have increasingly recognized the individual importance of land administration, land-use planning, and land development. Implementation of strategies to achieve effective outcomes poses a major challenge. Although World Bank technical assistance through Urbanization Reviews is improving the management of urban spatial growth, it appears much less often in the design of operations in the lending portfolio. A significant part of the lending portfolio is also in countries that do not experience uncontrolled slum formation and that have already made progress on land administration.

Recommendation 1. Adopt a framework that links the determinants of urban expansion to pathways for managing urban spatial growth and that contributes to the achievement of SDGs 1 and 11. The framework would provide a reference for the design and delivery of lending and analytical work on urban spatial growth. It could be centered on the determinants of urban spatial growth identified in this report—land administration, land-use planning, and land development through urban upgrading and urban transport. The Urban, Disaster Risk, Resilience, and Land Global Practice could be responsible for the development and implementation of the framework, in collaboration with the Transport Global Practice and other Global Practices involved in the financing of urban infrastructure. The framework could also reflect the approach outlined in the Planning, Connecting, and Financing Cities report (World Bank 2013b) and the housing framework (World Bank 2020d), both of which articulate a comprehensive and sequenced response to help city leaders make informed decisions for sustainable urban development.

The World Bank has underused three areas of support that are key to anticipating and helping manage urban spatial growth. First, in urban upgrading, the World Bank has principally focused on already built-up areas through curative approaches (93 percent of the portfolio) but has not focused sufficiently on anticipating growth, thus limiting its ability to preempt sprawl and slum creation. Second, TOD, a key instrument to manage urban spatial growth, is a small proportion of the urban transport portfolio. Finally, in land-use planning, land-based tools and scenario planning are important to help plan the type, intensity, location, and timing of new urban development, but their use remains limited.

Recommendation 2. Support World Bank clients with anticipating and preparing for urban spatial growth using preventive approaches, not just curative ones. In urban upgrading, the World Bank should go beyond support to the existing built urban environment (curative approaches) and address growth in the periphery (preventive approaches) according to country context. This could be done by securing rights of way and financing basic infrastructure in emerging neighborhoods in the periphery to accommodate an influx of urban dwellers. In urban transport, the World Bank should expand TOD through integrated land and transportation plans and through investments to create urban development that facilitates the use of public transit, walking, and cycling as primary modes of transportation. In land-use planning, the World Bank should expand the use of land-based tools to assemble land and provide services for urban expansion or redevelopment.

Key data to assess the impact of World Bank investments in land use and land markets are lacking. Two types of data are missing: exact project locations and land market data. First, the World Bank does not have an adequate protocol to identify and report precise project locations; none of the projects or subprojects in the urban portfolio recorded latitude and longitude in the PAD or Implementation Completion and Results Report. Second, the World Bank does not routinely consider property values in project design for urban upgrading and urban transport infrastructure investments.

Recommendation 3. Strengthen and ensure implementation of the World Bank’s protocol to identify and record precise project locations and collect land market data necessary to support clients with managing urban spatial growth. The World Bank should strengthen its data collection protocols and increase the use of technologies such as Geo-Enabling Initiative for Monitoring and Supervision and the Smart Supervision Application. It should also improve the collection of land market data, including mainstreaming land market assessments in World Bank investments in urban areas.