It is assumed that an integrated approach is required for managing the complexity of all interactive factors that need to be assessed in order to select the most relevant policies and implement them successfully in these countries. The analytical framework developed within the project, casted light on all the steps that were needed to conduct such an assessment, from identifying the issue to the dissemination of information with regard to results of the analysis.
Land use policies do not only deal with traditional land planning (i.e. land administration, cadastral systems or strategic planning of infrastructures such as roads or dams) but also focus on local resources and practices. Land use policies constitute particularly challenging approaches in developing countries because:
- natural resources are vulnerable under southern varying climatic conditions,
- weak governance is characteristic in such countries, and
- the use of land as natural resources represent subsistence issues for most of the living populations.
A number of programmes and operations of public authorities influencing land use in a sustainable way were analysed in the frame of the project. An ensemble of methods and tools for the integrated assessment of land use policies on sustainable development in developing countries was thus applied. The methodological framework consisted of three main phases that were:
- the definition of the problem and scenario,
- the assessment of the impacts of policies, and
- the assessment of alternative options in terms of contribution towards sustainable development. This framework referred to manifold computer-based models as well as including qualitative approaches.
In the first phase, in order to understand what the problem consists of, it was of paramount importance to go beyond a basic description of the local situation as well as striving to establish causal chains between drivers and impacts within the various economic, environmental, social and institutional aspects. Then, a set of specific indicators was determined.
In the second phase, the quantitative assessment of the impacts of policies on selected indicators was achieved. Various tools were applied to seven case studies in Tunisia, Kenya, China, India, Mali, Indonesia and Brazil. The variety of tools differed, depending on the scale of assessment (i.e. from field and farm to region and country). Although case studies were very different, general observations emerged with regard to both the design and use of tools, such as the added value of consulting relevant stakeholders as well as the necessity of conducting multidisciplinary approaches.
In the third phase, multi-criteria analysis (MCA) was used to determine which land use policy option scored best while taking into account preferences of stakeholders.
An application case in China was published to illustrate the integrated approach of the project.
The project, which targeted a sustainable living achievement, was funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), a grant funding programme of the European Commission. It was coordinated by LEI – Wageningen UR (The Netherlands) and ended in 2011. Although the tools applied within the project focused on seven specific areas, the analytical framework is meant to be generic and flexible so as to be applied across a range of issues as in further countries. The Technology readiness Level of the methodology is therefore estimated to be 9 on the TRL scale.