Durban, 28 September 2016 - Planners from around the world engaged in discussing the application of the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning Guidelines; a new tool being developed to provide a global reference framework for improving global policies, plans, designs and implementation processes.

The discourse took place in the sidelines of the 52nd annual congress of the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) which was held in Durban, South Africa, earlier this month under the theme, “Cities we have vs. Cities we need.”

Moderator, Dr. Shipra Narang Suri, Vice President of ISOCARP, concluded that this was a good start to engage planners in the application and localization of the Guidelines, calling for specific follow up actions for an active contribution of the international planning community in the higher ambition to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and the upcoming New Urban Agenda with the help of the Guidelines.

As the largest international gathering of urban planners, ISOCARP brings together diverse professionals for multiple days of workshops, presentations and discussions on contemporary topics related to urban and territorial planning. The topics this year ranged in scope from theoretical questions dealing with uncertainty in planning, to questions of the role social justice plays in an increasingly urbanized world.

Young planners in action

The Young Professional Planners workshop took place over the course of three days before the official congress programme began, and included young urban planners – under 35 years of age – from around the world. This year, 40 from South Africa, and 48 from around the world participated in what was the largest group in the 25-year history of this programme.

Divided into groups—each assigned a different case study based in the Durban area—young planners had 72 hours to attend a site visit and complete a proposal that took into account a wide array of issues. Using the resources in the planning and design studio at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, including guidance from locally-based professors, participants prepared a five minute presentation to be delivered during the congress plenary as well as an oversized poster summarizing the findings of the site. The process proved an invaluable experience for young professionals and in addition to networking opportunities, provided the opportunity to work in a truly international team for the first time.

In addition, throughout the Congress, much attention was paid to the forthcoming Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador and the expected outcomes of the signing of the New Urban Agreement. At the Habitat III Conference, ISOCARP will be hosting a side event discussing ‘Smart Cities in the New Urban Agenda’. The growing relationship between UN-Habitat and ISOCARP provides a solid precedent for the desired outcomes of this year’s congress: the sharing of information across disciplines in planning to implementation across a continuum of knowledge. It is becoming clear: the city we need is the city that learns.