Access to land within international agendas and plans: which opportunities to strengthen public policies?



land banks, land access, food and urban planning, Sustainable Development Goals 2030, Portugal


This article intends to strengthen access to land for agricultural production initiatives in Portugal by answering the following question: In the international context of sustainable development agendas and plans, what are the key themes for advocating an access to land public policy? We call for more visibility to the topic based on the international action and monitoring plans, as the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, and others developed by the FAO, RUAF and the Milan Pact, as an opportunity to raise awareness among political decision-makers regarding the need to consolidate and replicate land banks in the national territory and to include them in territorial planning.

Concerning the methodology, we identified and critically analysed the themes, targets and indicators that cover access to land in four selected action and monitoring plans. Land access targets and indicators were found in three of them, corresponding to the following themes: gender equality; socio-economic perspective; and food production.

We conclude by recommending guidelines for access to land based on the key themes of the agendas and plans analysed. We also propose incorporating these themes into territorial planning instruments in order to strengthen local food systems. Finally, it is suggested that access to land indicators should be more visible, through awareness campaigns and training for national and local governments, political and technical decision-makers, thus supporting the consolidation and replication of existing initiatives.

Author Biography

Cecília Delgado, Universidade Nova FCSH; CICS.NOVA - Centro Interdisciplinar de Ciências Sociais

Urban planner and architect, university professor, and researcher in Public Policy, in the articulation between Territorial Planning, Food Systems and Local Development. Currently, she is a researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities - Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCT - Transitory Norm - [FCSH001730]) and CICS.NOVA, Interdisciplinary Center of Social Sciences of UNL affiliated.
As part of her research, she has been constructing a critical review of international food policies in collaboration with RUAF, the Resource Centre on Urban Agriculture and Food Systems.

At the national level she has collaborated with local governments and non-profit organizations. She is co-founder of the Food Sustainable Cities platform created in 2018, a national collective that brings together several actors and sectors of the national food system.
Her publications can be accessed here:


BoerenBruxselPaysans. (n.d.). BoerenBruxselPaysans. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

C. M. Sintra. (n.d.). Disponibilização de Terrenos de Sintra. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

Cabannes, Y., & Marocchino, C. (2018). Integrating Food into Urban Planning (The Bartle). FAO I UCL.

Cascais E.M. (n.d.). Banco de Terras de Cascais. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

C.M. Santo Tirso. (n.d.). Bolsa de Terras Municipal | C.M. Santo Tirso. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

Daher, L. A., & Hora, K. E. R. (2020). Agricultura urbana nos vazios urbanos de Goiânia: estratégia de adaptação das cidades às mudanças climáticas globais. Seminario Internacional de Investigación En Urbanismo.

Delgado, C. (2015). Answer to the Portuguese Crisis: Turning Vacant Land into Urban Agriculture. Cities and the Environment (CATE), 8(2), 5. (accessed 1 November 2022)

Delgado, C. (2021). How to access land for producing organic food? Land policy options grounded in Torres Vedras, Portugal. Ciudades, 24(24), 99–118.

Delgado, C. (2023). The role of land as the central piece to sustainable food systems: Lessons learned from Portugal national food-related policies. Geography and Sustainability, 4(1), 84–90.

Detroit. (n.d.). Land Based Projects | City of Detroit. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

FAO. (2013). Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agricultural System: indicators. In Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - Rome 2013.

FAO. (2019). The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact Monitoring Framework.

FAO. (2020). Factsheets on the 21 SDG indicators under FAO custodianship: A highlight of the main indicators with the greatest gaps in country reporting. Factsheets on the 21 SDG Indicators under FAO Custodianship: A Highlight of the Main Indicators with the Greatest Gaps in Country Reporting.

Lohrberg, F. (2016). Urban Agriculture Europe: Agriculture Interation with the Urban Sphere (E. C. in S. COST & Technology, Eds.; pp. 8–13). JOVIS.

Manganelli, A., & Moulaert, F. (2019). Scaling out access to land for urban agriculture. Governance hybridities in the Brussels-Capital Region. In Land Use Policy (Vol. 82, pp. 391–400).

Marocchino, C., Kostas Stamoulis, G., Heinrich, Maria Magdalena Morrison, J., Taguchi, M., Santini, G., Takenoshita, K., Martin, G., Intini, J., Granados, S., & Tavares, L. (2020). Urban food systems and COVID-19: The role of cities and local governments in responding to the emergency. April, 1–6.

MUFPP. (n.d.). Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

Ohio. (n.d.). History and Mission | Countryside Food and Farms. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

Paris. (n.d.). Les Parisculteurs / Official Website. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

Perrin, C., Clément, C., Melot, R., & Nougarèdes, B. (2020). Preserving Farmland on the Urban Fringe : A Literature Review on Land Policies in Developed Countries. 1–20.

Perrin, C., & Nougaredes, B. (2020). An analytical framework to consider social justice issues in farmland preservation on the urban fringe. Insights from three French cases.

Petrescu-Mag, R. M., Petrescu, D. C., & Reti, K. O. (2019). My land is my food: Exploring social function of large land deals using food security–land deals relation in five Eastern European countries. In Land Use Policy (Vol. 82, pp. 729–741).

Pittsburg. (n.d.). Adopt-A-Lot Vacant Lot Toolkit | Retrieved April 4, 2023, from

Poch, R. M., Dos Anjos, L. H. C., Attia, R., Balks, M., Benavides-Mendoza, A., Bolaños-Benavides, M. M., Calzolari, C., Chabala, L. M., De Ruiter, P. C., Francke-Campaña, S., García Préchac, F., Graber, E. R., Halavatau, S., Hassan, K. M., Hien, E., Jin, K., Khan, M., Konyushkova, M., Lobb, D. A., … Vargas Rojas, R. (2020). Soil: The great connector of our lives now and beyond COVID-19. SOIL, 6(2), 541–547.

Pothukuchi, K., & Kaufman, J. L. (2000). The Food System: A stranger to the planning field. Journal of the American Planning Association, 66(2), 113–124.

Rioufol, V., Terre de Liens, Access to Land Network, & Via Campesina. (2020). Your land, my land, our land: Grassroots strategies to preserve farmland and access to land for peasant farming and agroecology.

Rodrigo, J., & Rioufol, V. (2017). Supporting access to land for farmers in Europe.

RUAF. (n.d.). About Ruaf. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

Terra Sintrópica. (n.d.). Projetos - Terra Sintrópica. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

Terre de Liens. (n.d.). Terre de Liens - Et si vous faisiez pousser des fermes ? Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

Terre-en-vue. (n.d.). Terre-en-vue - Faciliter l’accès à la terre pour une agriculture durable. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

Tornaghi, C. (2017). Urban Agriculture in the Food-Disabling City: (Re)defining Urban Food Justice, Reimagining a Politics of Empowerment. Antipode, 49(3), 781–801.

UNDP. (2021). Sustainable Development Goals | United Nations Development Programme. United Nations Development Programme.

UNEP. (2019). Collaborative Framework for Food Systems Transformation: A multi-stakeholder pathway for sustainable food systems.

Wubben, E. F. M., & Isakhanyan, G. (2011). Stakeholder Analysis of Agroparks. International Journal on Food System Dynamics, 02(2), 145–154.





Policy Brief