Reclaiming social equity in land use planning for sustainable cities


Saguin, K. K., Chanco, C. J., Tan, A. I., & Ortega, A. A. (2017). Reclaiming social equity in land use planning for sustainable cities. Public Policy , 18, 99-126.


The rapid growth of Philippine cities has brought a host of problems and challenges, including sprawl, environmental degradation, unemployment, lack of adequate housing, increased vulnerability to hazards, and an overall decline in the quality of life of urban residents. As Mega Manila expands, its peri-urban fringes face the pressure of conversion to urban land uses, while core urban areas grapple with various urban issues on zoning and land use change. Given these issues, land use plans and policies serve as important sites of intervention in moving toward urban sustainability. Beyond issues of enforcement on the ground, this paper argues for the need to examine, evaluate, and refine the guiding framework for land use planning. We propose three ways of approaching urban land use planning and policy based on a review of relevant documents and field research in two case study sites. First, we emphasize the need to broaden sustainability as a guiding framework for land use planning by emphasizing social equity and justice as a crucial component of sustainable development. Considering these may promote community interests that do not necessarily fit within an economic growth or ecological integrity imperative. Second, we advocate building on efforts to improve community participation in land use planning. Our field accounts suggest opportunities for further participation of communities in crafting land use plans and related projects. Third, we suggest including other spatial approaches and imaginaries practiced by local communities in everyday life. We identify the merits of a deeper engagement with communities and use the example of community mapping as a tool for planning land use. Increasing community participation and incorporating other planning methods will contribute to better realizing social equity in planning for just sustainability in cities.