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Urban-Rural Land Policy

Photo by Maximilian Glas | THE NEW INSTITUTE

event
event

Urban-Rural Land Policy

The Hall

A workshop at THE NEW INSTITUTE by the program Reclaiming Common Wealth exploring a urban-rural land policy for a social-ecological transformation.

There are many urban and rural initiatives in Germany concerned with the protection, preservation and regeneration of soil. These groups are also concerned with the equitable distribution of land (including housing) and are working on problem analysis and progressive and radical reforms to promote soil protection, access to land, and its ecological management and use. However, they rarely meet to discuss these issues in a comprehensive way that considers rural, urban and suburban spaces together.
In November 2023, we held a workshop at THE NEW INSTITUTE to develop strategies for a movement for social and ecological land justice that constructively addresses the urban-rural divide.

Many of the obstacles to just and social-ecological land policies – such as displacement, intransparent ownership structures, land concentration, the sealing of soil, and the assetizationand financialization of land – are interrelated in urban and rural settings. Similarly, instruments and initiatives to address these obstacles span the rural-urban divide, such as institutional designs that seek to promote collective ownership of land and protect against its re-privatization.
In the workshop, we sought to enable exchange between these initiatives and activists on joint strategies and on how to collaborate and coordinate transformation projects.

Land and housing activists met with researchers, administrators, policymakers and lawyers to discuss options for action and collaboration in pursuit of just and transformative land and soil policies.

The workshop addressed the following themes and questions:

  1. Parallels between urban and rural political economies of land: Which parallels exist? What are similar problems and approaches to tackle them?
  2. What success stories can we tell to support both urban and rural land struggles?
  3. What were moments of failure? What do we learn from them?
  4. Which fault lines divide movements for urban and rural land justice and how can they be overcome; when and how are the two played off against each other?
  5. International success stories and real dystopias: What land policy approaches can be imported to Germany from abroad in both urban and rural contexts? Which practical examples should not be replicated?
  6. Temporal comparison - historical references: Which historical lessons can be drawn from past land and soil reform projects? Does this historical knowledge help and can it be used as a basis for political action?

The participants worked in groups concerning the following topics:

  1. Databases and infrastructures on land distribution and use
    Enabling transparent transformation
  2. Court action and land policy
    Strategic litigation
  3. Alternative structures and procedures for socio-ecological transformation
    Legal hacking and the struggle for new legal forms
    Socialization and commons
    Procurement procedures and contracts
  4. Transformation of property and financialization
    Revolutionary realpolitik
    Soil is neither a weapon nor a commodity
  5. Ecology and soil policy
    Land use conflicts and soil protection

A publication documenting the results of the workshop and identifying tools and pathways for a sociological transformation of land tenure and use is currently being prepared. It will be published in the fall of 2024.

The participants worked in groups concerning the following topics:

  1. Databases and infrastructures on land distribution and use
    Enabling transparent transformation

  2. Court action and land policy
    Strategic litigation

  3. Alternative structures and procedures for socio-ecological transformation
    Legal hacking and the struggle for new legal forms
    Socialization and commons
    Procurement procedures and contracts

  4. Transformation of property and financialization
    Revolutionary realpolitik
    Soil is neither a weapon nor a commodity

  5. Ecology and soil policy
    Land use conflicts and soil protection


Currently work is in progress on a publication documenting the results of the workshop and indicating instruments and pathways towards a sociological transformation of landownership and use. It will be published in autumn 2024.

Download the Program here.

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