Ramallah 15 November 2016-- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) launched the third edition of the Spatial Visioning Reflections Magazine, with special focus on the occupied Palestinian territory.

The magazine provides innovative spatial planning solutions for the current and anticipated future challenges for spatial development in the State of Palestine. It contains a collection of articles prepared by Palestinian and international planners addressing spatial planning issues across various critical sectors and levels, varying from street design level to national planning policies.

“We launch this magazine mere days after celebrating the World Cities Day 2016 under the theme ‘Inclusive Cities, Shared Development’ highlighting the important role of urbanization as a source of development and social inclusion. The launch of this magazine is most timely given the adoption by Member States of the New Urban Agenda in Habitat III just weeks ago. I believe that this magazine will substantially contribute to the discussion on how to achieve sustainable urban development in the State of Palestine, and more importantly how to harness urbanization as a positive force for development. The local and international partners who were involved in developing this magazine, especially UN agencies will remain committed to the achievement of this goal by working hand-in-hand with the State of Palestine institutions” said Head of Office, UN-Habitat, Joe Hooper.

The magazine is a product of a participatory process that is set to continue by engaging different groups within Palestinian society through an open dialogue about the future of their communities. In this final edition, articles present a combination of viewpoints on the economic aspects of spatial development, the local realities of meeting global ambitions set forth in Goal 11 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), urban design, politics, and others.

“This magazine is a modest contribution to the commitment by the United Nations and ISOCARP to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator, Roberto Valent. “UNDP supports an integrated approach to Palestinian development, economic growth and increased resilience. Sustainability is about respecting future generations and sustainable cities are good when they enable people to live in them in harmony and prosperity while protecting the surrounding environment,” he added.

UNDP and UN-Habitat, in partnership with ISOCARP’s urban planning advisory team provided support to a visioning process for the future strategic and spatial development of Gaza, the West Bank and the State of Palestine as a whole. In the capacity building and test planning exercises UNDP, UN-Habitat and ISOCARP worked together with local, regional and national planning officials as well as with university professors and students in Gaza and the West Bank.

“The Capacity Building and the Test Planning Exercises for Gaza and the West Bank looked ahead past the present situation with the barriers that separate territories of Israel and the future State of Palestine territories, and take the borders of 1967 and borders that are fully open for travel, trade and traffic for granted,” specifies Martin Dubbeling, ISOCARP Vice President Urban Planning Advisory Teams (UPATs). “With the workshops and the magazines we can only hope that the focus of the Palestinian people shift from conflict and hostilities to improve the connectivity, attractiveness, liveability and thus the competitiveness of their cities.”

Amongst the challenges that were addressed throughout the partnership were enabling the future urban development in Gaza and the West Bank, enhancing public transport and Transit Oriented Development, corridor development, protecting vulnerable landscapes, natural resources, cultural and religious heritage and to enhance industries, trade, tourism and the economy in this region.

Though the situation today is complex, a spatial development vision for the future of the occupied Palestinian territory is critical in order to rationalize interventions and investments, and realize an independent and viable Palestinian State.