International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning: A key tool to support the New Urban Agenda

UCLG Africa Secretary General represented the UCLG family on a panel discussion on the international guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning, a key tool to support the New Urban Agenda organized as part of side events of the second Preparatory Committee of Habitat III.


The panel was chaired by Mrs. Shipra Narang Suri, Vice-President, International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) and Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN Habitat. It included Mr. Kisaburo Ishii, Vice Minister, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism of Japan; Dr. Hadi Sucahyono, Director of settlements development, Ministry of Public Works and Housing; Mrs. Chikako Takase, Mrs. Amie Figueiredo, Programme Officer, Housing and Land Management Unit, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE); Raf Tuts, UN Habitat; and Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General, UCLG Africa.

The panel admitted that urban planning was in crisis because responsibility of urbanization was more and more transferred to the private sector. This is very much in relation with weak power of public authorities. Many city leaders are not planning because they lack public resources to plan or implement what is planned. Having urban planning right adds economic value to city functioning.

Master planning is not exactly urban planning. Urban planning is primarily about the demarcation, provision and protection of public space that should be considered as a common good for general interest. The daunting question that urban planning should address is “Planning for who, for the minority or the majority?” There comes the affordability and sustainability issues and challenges. The work on international guidelines is an attempt to renew the thinking on urban design and the art of building cities, quite different from the art of building buildings, which was so far the focus of attention of most planners.

The guidelines are a general reference that should be adapted to different contexts and requirements. They can be used as an instrument to bring all stakeholders together to plan following a participatory approach. The guidelines can feed different thrust and contribute to sharing global knowledge. Monitoring the implementation of the guidelines will be key.