Urban planning is a complex process that requires strong political leadership and commitment, and implementable legal frameworks articulated through a common development vision and social participation. It is exactly in the complexity of this process that UN-Habitat founded its in-house Urban Planning and Design Lab, in order to provide assistance to local, regional and national authorities with urban planning and design. The UN-Habitat´s Lab has been a response to a growing demand from cities, not only providing tools for their urbanization challenges, but also responding to urban planning in general. Within a complex set of actors and technical realities, the Planning Lab finds its existence and application to create, navigate and accelerate the urban strategies and transformative projects for implementation.
The Lab started as a technical team developing concrete planning projects. It has been evolving into a program with a distinct approach and activities at global and local level, developing eventually into the Network of UPD Labs associated directly or indirectly. Its methodology is based on a strong project approach that integrates different sectoral demands and brings stakeholders and citizens together. The design of clear proposals is therefore accelerated and ready for implementation on the short and medium term. After these proposals have been tested and evaluated, the lessons learnt are translated and incorporated to the policies and principles of the Agency, contributing to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
This publication aims to present the Lab´s approach towards planning and design, management and implementation, as well as to introduce the trajectory of the UN-Habitat’s Lab through its working years of experience.