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UN-Habitat promotes sustainable urban planning and development in Myanmar
Yangon, 24 June 2015 – UN-Habitat recently hosted a two-week mission of international experts to deliver urban planning training and undertake socioeconomic analysis of major Myanmar cities. The mission included staff from UN-Habitat headquarters and seven visiting experts from ARCADIS, a design and consulting firm, with which the agency has a shelter partnership programme. A four-man urban planning team, led by Mr Rogier VanDenBerg from UN Habitat, delivered an applied training on the implementation of Urban Planning Guidelines in Nay Pyi Taw from 2-4 June. The Planning Guidelines were developed by the Planning and Design Lab in Nairobi following a two week mission to Myanmar last October. Participants in the training session included national urban planning officers from the Department of Urban and Housing Development as well as planners from Mandalay, Yangon, and Nay Pyi Taw municipal governments. Over three days the participants learnt how to develop economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable cities that will allow for future urban growth and evolution. The draft Guidelines were presented to Deputy Minister Dr. Win Myint by Mr Van Den Berg and UN-Habitat Country Manager Mr Bijay Karmacharya, with the final version to be revised based on the experiences in the training. A second team conducted detailed socioeconomic assessments in Mandalay and Mawlamyine, two of Myanmar’s largest cities with high levels of future growth predicted. Strategies for Sustainable Development The demographic assessment drew upon the 2014 Census Results released in May 2015, and expert analysis of the urban conditions by the ARCADIS team. The demographic profiles set out three different growth scenarios for each of the cities and identify strategies for sustainable development. Directed and strategic economic growth will be of crucial importance for Myanmar in the future as it deals with rapid urbanisation. Commenting on the mission, Mr Karmacharya noted that “it was a unique, important and timely contribution to the government of Myanmar’s efforts towards understanding and addressing urban issues. We thank ARCADIS for carefully crafting the team representing a variety of expertise from different parts of the world to bring diversified knowledge, and interacting with staff of UN-Habitat to share knowledge and experience.” Myanmar is at a critical point in its history as one of the least urbanized countries, in the most urbanized region of the world. Today approximately one third of the country’s population lives in cities, and this is expected to grow considerably in the near future. Well-managed urbanization can be the catalyst and driver for economic growth, while poorly managed growth can create the kinds of urban problems seen in megacities around the world. To promote sustainable urbanization, UN-Habitat is supporting the Government of Myanmar in its development of a National Housing Policy, National Urban Development Strategy, and a major expansion of urban planning capacity. The Urban and Design LAB of UN-Habitat is providing support to UN-Habitat and partners led projects in the development of planning and design solutions, focusing on translating UN-Habitat principles for sustainable urbanization into concrete projects in close collaboration with local actors. Created in 2013, it has worked in over 40 cities to date. A Network of LABs is being developed to broaden the expertise available to countries and expand the reach of the support. ARCADIS and UN-Habitat, set up the Shelter Program in 2010. ARCADIS provides pro bono expertise for UN-Habitat. Over fifty missions, trainings and other Shelter activities have been organized in Asia, Africa and Middle America. Over 120 ARCADIS Experts from a range of disciplines have been actively engaged in the program by sharing their knowledge, expertise and providing capacity-building support skills to help bring the UN-Habitat mission forward. This combination of expertise from a wide variety of backgrounds is aimed at improving living conditions in cities around the world, especially for the urban poor.