2.37 - Urban development policies and instruments in a context of increasing financialization: The case of Urban Partnership Operations in Brazil

Project Description

Over the past five decades, the rising dominance of financial logics and actors at diverse scales has been accompanied by economical, institutional, governmental and daily life transformations. Such phenomena are referred by the term ‘financialization’. This PhD research discusses the role of land value capture and large-scale urban development projects (UDPs) in promoting financialization processes. It also looks into how municipalities deal with financialization processes in order to further their agendas.

In urban planning, financializing policy instruments are those that, to finance the built environment, promote institutional arrangements that adapt to the needs of the property market, the financial market, and to their interdependencies and dynamics. These instruments reflect a political and sociotechnical evolution that fostered the conversion of property, as physical and tangible space, into 'quasi-financial' assets that commodify space. Large-scale urban development projects (UDPs), on the other hand, correspond to the stage where commodification of land occurs and financialization takes place; they are often funded through land value capture instruments which, in some cases, can both be financialized and prone to develop financialization processes.

Despite their importance, the methodological and conceptual challenges that arise from land value capture and UDPs’ implementation and operationalization still lack in clarification. The implementation of land value capture instruments possesses an inherent complexity and imprecision in their calculation, which means that there is no clear metric to measure the effects of such factors on land value if one intends to look back in time to evaluate interventions. Additionally, the management and the regulation of real estate valuation are not restricted to a simple application of these instruments, as they also depend on the diverse actions and decisions taken within complex actor networks and political environments.

Thus, this work aims to contribute towards identifying and reflecting on these methodological and conceptual challenges. As a case study, it focuses on Urban Partnership Operations in Brazil funded by Additional Building Potential Certificates, which constitute a financialized land value capture instrument. By conducting a literature review, network identification, data and discourse analysis, this research intends to answer the main question – To what extent does the use of land value capture instruments foster the formation of commodified spaces? – and to scrutinize how municipalities are managing these processes to foster their own agenda.

Research team
  • Cláudia Affonso
  • Emília Malcata Rebelo (supervisor)
Financial Support


Time Frame
  • In progress