Across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), land is scarce and valuable. Demand for land is projected to dramatically increase to meet the needs of a fast-growing urban population. At the same time, the supply of land is restricted by weak governance and climate factors, causing the quasi-exhaustion of cultivable land reserves. As a result, a crisis is looming. Yet, land continues to be used inefficiently, inequitably, and unsustainably. Land Matters identifies and analyzes the economic, environmental, and social challenges associated with land in the MENA region, shedding light on policy options and proposing paths to reform. It concludes that MENA countries need to act promptly, think more holistically about land, reassess the strategic trade-offs, and minimize land distortions. This report promotes a culture of open data, transparency, and inclusive dialogue on land, while filling major data gaps. These important steps will contribute to renewing the social contract, transforming the region economically and digitally, improving women’s land rights, and facilitating recovery and reconstruction in a context of dramatic social, political, and climatic transformation.
“Understanding the functioning of land markets and their socioeconomic ramifications requires mobilizing multiple disciplines, which very few researchers achieve. This volume is the exception. It is well-informed, deep, and essential to understanding how to shape land policies in the Middle East and North Africa.”
- Rabah Arezki, Senior Fellow, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and former Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa, World Bank
“This report is a must-read for anyone interested in solving land issues in the Middle East and North Africa as it provides up-to-date evidence on the land dynamics across the region. It also strengthens our understanding of land governance and its critical role in the context of economic development, climate change, and social inequity, including for women. Addressing land governance is central to the region’s sustainability.”
- Clarissa Augustinus, Senior Adviser, Arab Land Initiative
“Efficiently mobilizing land resources will be key to addressing the many challenges of climate change and to building sustainable economies in the Middle East and North Africa. Based on sound research, this report offers a set of policy options for leveraging land as a solution to many of the economic, social, and environmental challenges in the region. It should be high on the agenda of development practitioners and policy makers.”
- Mahmoud Mohieldin, United Nations Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and COP27 High-Level Champion