Cape Town, 13 June 2017 -- Over a dozen experts met in Cape Town last week to lay the foundation for another companion to fast track the implementation of the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (IG-UTP).

The initiative was spearheaded by Ms. Christine Platt, former Chairperson of the Group of Experts who drafted the IG-UTP between 2013 and 2015. In her opening remarks, Ms. Platt underscored that the proposed book will ‘bring out the narrative behind the Guidelines and its principles by teasing out and distilling key messages taking into account emerging issues such as urban-rural linkages and food security’.

The book initiative is sponsored by the South Africa Association of Local Government (SALGA). SALGA representative outlined that the book will be one of South Africa’s Contributions on how to effectively implement the Guidelines. In particular, SALGA proposed that the Book ‘connects the dots’ between the aspiration of the Guidelines and what is needed to make ‘changes on the ground’.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Raf Tuts, Director of Programme Division at UN-Habitat welcomed the continuous support of South Africa towards the Guidelines. He indicated the importance of the Guidelines in supporting the urban dimensions of the SDGs and UN-Habitat’s Action Framework for Implementation of the New Urban Agenda (AFINUA). The book responds to the findings that emerged from the 2017 report of the implementation of the Guidelines released in May 2107 during the 26th session of its Governing Council held in Nairobi, Kenya. In doing so, it is expected that the proposed book will boost the awareness and implementation of the Guidelines.

Professor Cliff Hague was tasked to lead drafting of the book along with a ‘manifesto’ targeting the key decision makers within the four stakeholder groups of the Guidelines: National governments, Local authorities, Planning professionals and their associations, and Civil society organizations and their associations.
Experts agreed on an annotated outline of the book along with the timeline for drafting and publishing the book. It is anticipated the that book will be launched at the 9th Word Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February 2018.

The book will complement other tools developed by UN-Habitat to support the implementation of the IG-UTP. These include a compendium of inspiring practices, a learning and training package, a handbook and a planning assessment tool.

The South African support to the Guidelines complements the active engagement of Japan which has already set up an International Platform for Knowledge Exchange on spatial planning and is planning to host the first Global Symposium on Urban and Territorial Panning in 2018. Other partners taking active role in supporting the awareness and implementation of the Guidelines include Cities Alliance, Prince Charles Foundation and the Government of Norway.

The Guidelines were approved by the 25th Governing Council of UN-HABITAT in April 2015. Since then, they are now available in 11 languages, downloaded over 100,000 times from the UN-Habitat website and launched in four countries. Furthermore, the Guidelines have engaged 28 partner organizations, attracted over 540 individuals, were referenced in 9 journals and magazines and are explicitly referred to in the New Urban Agenda.