Ramallah, 25 November 2015—UN-Habitat and the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) have joined forces with local and national partners to elaborate a series of spatial visions for the heartland of the West Bank region which includes East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jericho.
Consequently, UN-Habitat and ISOCARP on Tuesday launched the result of their partnership - a special magazine entitled “Spatial Visioning Reflections: The Heartland of the West Bank” containing a collection of articles prepared by Palestinian and international planners addressing spatial planning issues in the West Bank at different levels – from the street design level to national planning policies level.
The magazine provides innovative spatial planning solutions for the current and anticipated future challenges for spatial development in the West Bank. A special focus was given to mobility solutions with high-tech applications and encouraging multiple modes of public transportation to better connect the Palestinian cities and communities within the heartland of the West Bank and within the whole Palestinian territory including Gaza Strip.
“The magazine is a vocal expression of the will of Palestinian planners to work with Palestinian and international stakeholders to chart a sustainable spatial development future for the State of Palestine,” said Joe Hooper, Head of Office UN-Habitat Palestine. Though only covering 5,655 km2, the West Bank is fraught with an enormity of challenges, including territorial fragmentation and artificial scarcity of land.
More than 60 perecent of the West Bank (called Area C) - containing the bulk of natural resources - is off-limit for Palestinian development due to the Israel’s continued control. Other challenges include high population growth rates of 3.01 percent, and a rapid pace of urbanization at 3.3 percent compared to the world rate of 1.98 percent.
Though the situation today is complex, a spatial development vision for the future of the West Bank is critical in order to rationalize interventions and investments, and realize an independent and viable Palestinian state. The magazine is a product of a participatory process that is set to continue by engaging different groups within the Palestinian society through an open dialogue about the future of their communities.
“Charting a course for the future of Palestinian cities starts with talking with their inhabitants, asking for their dreams, and listening to their meaningful stories. With this magazine for the West Bank, I hope that all actors and stakeholders are better able to understand the dreams, desires, values and opportunities for the Palestinian cities” wrote Martin Dubbeling, ISOCARP Vice President Urban Planning Advisory Teams for the magazine.
Download Magazine here.