This blog was posted ahead of the tenth World Urban Forum, in Abu Dhabi 8-13 February 2020. Despite many endorsements ofthe idea for Global Planning Aid at the WUF, it proved not possible to raise the pump-priming funding required to set up a pilot project in Banjul, The Gambia. The CHOGM planned for 2020 was postponed becauseof Covid.
At the WUF I will be speaking in a Networking Event hosted by PAS and ISOCARP. We will be launching the idea of Global Planning Aid in Hall 2, Room 5 on Wednesday 12 February from 2-4pm local time. All are welcome to attend. The aim is to begin to explore how to connect disadvantaged groups with professional know-how in planning and development. Globally much development is unplanned, and planning practice only serves better off people and places. This creates inequalities and problems that include insecurity and the need to retrofit infrastructure. However, for many people such development is the only way they can access affordable shelter or get a toehold in the urban economy. Even in rich countries, most planning expertise is focused on facilitating or regulating development in ways that rarely benefits poor and marginalised groups and places. It is time that planners and related development professionals confronted these uncomfortable truths. As we say in the flyer promoting the Networking Event, “Knowledge is power, but knowledge about how to design, plan and implement urban and rural development is in short supply. Globally the built environment professionals are concentrated in the richer countries. Within countries, expertise is typically based in the capitals or large cities, but thinly spread – if present at all – in small and medium-sized towns and peripheral regions.” This builds on books I have done for previous WUFs, Making Planning Work for WUF3 (a Chinese translation was published in 2019) and Leading Change for WUF9 in 2018.
PAS and ISOCARP in different ways have developed approaches to address these issues. Volunteers need to be trained to provide culturally appropriate advice, and connected to client groups who set out their own requirements and aspirations. We recognise the need to support the “barefoot planners”, people who may lack formal qualifications (which are expensive to obtain) but are engaged in practice in shaping places. The hope is by working together for this event ISOCARP and PAS can be a catalyst that stimulates others to become part of a network to find ways to translate the idea into practical reality. Part of the task is to find out what others are already doing, so that instead of “reinventing the wheel” we can instead share experiences and scale up efforts.
I will also be part of a roundtable at the WUF organised by the Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities project at Glaasgow University, which is led by Professor Ya Ping Wang. Initial findings on sustainability at neighbourhood level across 14 cities in 7 countries will be presented. This event is on Monday 10 February in Hall 3 Room 15 at 12.30. I have blogged about this project before, here and here.
I will also be attending some events featuring the Commonwealth Planners Association. In particular, on Wednesday 12 February, the government of Rwanda is hosting a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation, to be taken to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali in June 2020. All in all it will be a busy few days and I will try to report events on this website.