On compact, Integrated & connected cities – Raf Tuts, UN-Habitat

By on 03/31/2014

mp3 icon On compact, Integrated & Connected Cities – Raf Tuts

Raf Tuts


Rafael Tuts is Coordinator of the Urban Planning and Design Branch of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, based in Nairobi, Kenya. The current focus of his work is to support national, regional and city authorities to achieve compact, integrated, connected and inclusive cities that are resilient to climate change. This is being implemented in over thirty countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He is also contributing to the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals, mandated by the Rio+20 Conference. Earlier assignments for UN-Habitat included Localising Agenda 21, the Global Campaign on Urban Governance and strengthening local government capacity development institutions. Before joining UN-Habitat, he worked for the Department of Architecture, Urbanism and Planning of the University of Leuven and the Housing Research and Development Unit of the University of Nairobi. He authored and co-edited several publications on a wide range of sustainable urban development topics.


“Compact, Integrated and Connected Cities” focuses on what UN-Habitat intends to achieve in the strategic plan focus area of urban planning and design. The Urban Planning and Design focus area of UN-Habitat aims to support cities, regional and national authorities in adopting improved policies, plans and designs for more compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities that foster sustainable urban development and are resilient to climate change. The lecture provides an introduction on why this is relevant and how it can be achieved. The lecture first briefly describes UN-Habitat’s twin mandate of adequate shelter for all and sustainable urban development. It then explains how urban densities have significantly declined over the years in all parts of the world, exacerbating urban challenges like sprawl, segregation and congestion.  It then reviews various planning approaches for rapidly growing urban areas. It then goes on to explain how national urban policies, city-region planning and planned city extensions can help creating more compact, integrated and connected cities. The lecture ends with a global outlook, identifying several global processes that contribute to this new urban agenda. Propositions for addressing the issue: Rafael Tuts explains how the current business model of urban development too often leads to sprawl, segregation and congestion. To turn this around towards more compact, integrated and connected cities, three complementary approaches are proposed:

1. National Urban Policies: providing an overarching coordinating framework to address urban challenges to maximize the benefits of urbanization, while mitigating potential adverse externalities

2. City-region planning: connecting local and national spatial frameworks with focus on:

a) working with nature

b) leveraging density

c) optimizing infrastructure 

d) clustering for competitiveness

3. Planned City Extensions: pro-active creation of space for urban expansion, with focus on:

a) sound legal framework, 

b) appropriate design parameters

c) sustainable financial plan


UN-Habitat publication – Urban Planning for City Leaders (2012) 

UN-Habitat publication –  Urban Patterns for a Green Economy: Working with Nature (2012) 

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