Land reform key to urban growth, says World Bank

More needs to be done to enforce environmental regulations and reduce pollution-related health issues

 Beijing and other parts of heavily-populated northern China has been off the charts in terms of smog. Photograph:  Feng Li/Getty Images

Beijing and other parts of heavily-populated northern China has been off the charts in terms of smog. Photograph: Feng Li/Getty Images

Tue, Apr 1, 2014, 01:00

Last week we looked at urbanisation in China and the expected impact on the world – it’s one of those issues that has repercussions all over.

The World Bank’s blueprint for urbanisation recommends that China curb rapid urban sprawl by reforming land requisition, giving migrants urban residency and equal access to basic public services.

The World Bank report comes soon after China announced the National New-type Urbanisation Plan (2014-20) , which aims to expand its cities still more, and at the same time improve public services to support economic growth by allowing millions more rural residents to migrate to urban jobs.

There are 200 million more urban dwellers than a decade ago, and the government needs to do more to enforce environmental regulations and reduce pollution-related health issues.

After a series of days in which Beijing and other parts of heavily-populated northern China has been off the charts in terms of smog, this will resonate with urban dwellers.

The joint report by the World Bank and the Development Research Centre of China’s State Council was prepared over the past 14 months and will have played a role in the urbanisation plan.

The reform of land management to strengthen the rights of farmers, limit the amount of land that can be requisitioned by local governments and market-based pricing would be a priority, the report said.

“The reform agenda the report presents would boost revenue for farmers in land sales, provide more services for migrants and encourage more responsible financing by local governments,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank group president.

“It would also mean greener urban planning, and stronger environmental management so everyone can breathe easier.”

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