Oliveira, E., & Meyfroidt, P. (2021). Strategic Spatial Planning in Emerging Land-Use Frontiers – Evidence from Mozambique. AfricArxiv t3anz, Center for Open Science. https://doi.org/10.31730/osf.io/t3anz
Strategic spatial planning (SSP) represents a consolidated long-term governance practice across developed and developing countries. It articulates sectoral policies, and it involves vision making and an array of stakeholders regarding land use and development issues around urban and rural territories. Land-use frontiers are territories with abundant land for agriculture and forestry, availability of natural resources relative to labor or capital, and rapid land-use change, often driven by large-scale investments and capitalized actors producing commodities for distal markets. Among various reasons, one of the objectives of SSP processes is to articulate a more coherent and future-oriented spatial logic for sustainable land-use patterns, resource protection and investments. SSP may thus constitute a useful approach to address some of the challenges posed to the governance of land-use frontiers, thus far, its potential contribution in land-use frontiers lacks an explicitly exploration. Here, we examine how SSP can play a role in governing land-use frontiers, through a case-study analysis of Mozambique as an emerging investment frontier. We gathered empirical evidence by interviewing experts involved in resource management, planning and strategizing territorial development in the country, complemented by a content analysis of literature and policy documents. We show that emerging land-use frontiers face several challenges, such as transnational land deals and intensification of commercial plantations. Interview data show that Mozambique lacks a strategic territorial vision, and the short-termism of political cycles hinders long-term territorial development, primarily in rural areas with plentiful land. Our analysis shows that SSP processes could contribute to address both global and country-specific challenges such as poverty traps and land degradation spirals, if various local and distant actors join forces and marry interests. We conclude by presenting a systematic framework explaining how SSP could play a role in governing emerging land-use frontiers for sustainable pathways.