Planning Institute of Australia Planning Congress 2023 (Virtual)

22 - 23 March 2023

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American Planning Association National Conference (NPC23) Online

26 - 28 April 2023

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American Planning Association National Conference (NPC23) Philadelphia, USA

1 - 4 April 2023

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Planning Institute of Australia Planning Congress 2023

24 - 26 May 2023

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New Zealand Planning Institute Annual Conference

19 - 21 April 2023

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The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Annual Conference

November 3 - 5, 2022

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Royal Town Planning Institute Annual Conference

17 - 18 November, 2022

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Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference

6 - 18 November, 2022

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APA 2022 Policy and Advocacy Conference

September 28 - 29, 2022

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GPN session at World Urban Forum

The GPN held a networking session at the World Urban Forum Session 11 in Katowice (Poland) on 30 June 2022.


The event began with an introduction from Timothy David Crawshaw, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, which is currently chairing the GPN. It was followed by a short president from panel members.

The WUF GPN panel
The WUF GPN panel

Eleanor Mohammed, President of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), reported on actions being taken by CAP to empower and represent the Global South of the planning profession. In particular she referred to good work done at the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in Kigali (Rwanda) also in June this year. At CHOGM a network of African Planners was set out, initially to be covering East Africa, in which peer-to-peer knowledge sharing can be taking place.

Olafiyin Taiwo reflected on the work of young planners in the Commonwealth and the launch of the Commonwealth Youth of Sustainable Urbanisation network at GHOGM.

Piotr Lorens , gave a perspective from the host country of WUF11 and also TUP the Polish Association of Planners. In Poland a new planning law is being introduced attempting to reduce urban sprawl, but it is meeting with resistance in practice.

Timothy David Crawshaw  then drew delegates’ attention to the vital work of planners in dealing with issues of public health. This has become so vital in the wake of a global pandemic.


wuf-11-gpn-event-audience-02We then had a good span of time for delegates to contribute their own views in a discussion hosted by Richard Blyth Head of Policy at the Royal Town Planning Institute. This was kicked off by using the annotation of the New Urban Agenda made by ISOCARP which focused on the parts of the NUA where planning is mentioned. The idea of the discussion was to consider how the NUA might need to be updated to create a New Planning Agenda .

The first part of the discussion looked at the topics which exist in the New Urban Agenda currently and where urban planning is featured. The list of these topics for planning includes:

  • Housing
  • Road Safety
  • Transport for all
  • Water
  • Culture
  • Freedom from Violence

Delegates [from countries including Netherlands, Eswatini, South Africa, United Kingdom, Morocco] challenged the NUA list to include more coverage of nature and biodiversity. The global biodiversity crisis is probably of even greater significance now than in 2016. There is greater knowledge and practice in green infrastructure than ever before, including using nature-based solutions to achieve outcomes for people and to increase resilience.

It was suggested that the NUA could have a greater emphasis on the connections between planning and long-term threats such as sea level rise and coastline management.

It was also suggested that there should be a focus on emergency and crisis response in the context of increased displacement and migrations both within countries and internationally and the role of planning in addressing those challenges.  The current war in Eastern Europe also throws up the need to consider how planning needs to react to the challenge of an increasing number of displaced people, both within countries and internationally as the result of conflicts. The NUA also needs to address displacement due to the impact of climate change.  The challenges of voluntary migration of people from cities to beauty spots in high income countries, which causes local people to be priced out of housing was also noted. Telecommuting has changed power relations, widening opportunities for people with high value occupations, but not for those involved in direct services and manufacturing which require continued attendance in specific workplaces.

The NUA recognizes the ongoing need for greater connections between transport and land use planning. It goes so far as to recognize that the techniques used to evaluate transport schemes need updating. According to delegates this issue remains critical. The danger posed to people with limited power in cities, such as walkers, disabled people and often women and children, from the way in which mobility is managed remains very serious. More generally, the meeting highlighted capacity and skill gaps that need to be addressed globally.

The delegates suggested the link between planning and health and wellbeing should be emphasized as there is a growing body of evidence highlighting the key role of planning in addressing these issues.

The meeting also raised the issues of spatial justice, landownership and access to land, human rights and poverty, equality and diversity should be considered together with governance, collaboration, leadership, and financing mechanisms.

In the second half of the debate we moved onto looking at how planning should work. The NUA says quite a lot about this: for example it says that plans should balance the short and long term , and plans should  be integrated and polycentric.  The WUF11 delegates also called for planning to be agile in order to deal with a world which seems more quick changing than it was: in some countries urban planning is crisis management. And greater concern to be paid to non-statutory planning processes .  It seems that the NUA considered that planning should be done by governments and cities alone and it doesn’t leave much room for other actors except in “participation”.

Since there may only one or two-hundred thousand planners in the world, and over 7 billion people, it follows that non professional input is critical.  “80% of the knowledge is in the community.” But it doesn’t necessarily follow that the planning which is non governmental is of the people. Large multinational corporations also “plan”. This activity is sometimes not open to sufficient challenge.

Delegates raised issues of human rights and questioned whether planners’ codes of conduct are sufficiently robust in this regard. Does remaining neutral on issues of poverty effectively mean planners are taking sides?

Information technology has evolved very quickly – change has been accelerated by the pandemic.  Big expectations are being made of “Data” to establish planning in areas where it is less developed, and to speed up planning in richer countries. However, data is never value free and questions around data collection and ethics should be addressed Which data about persons is being held by which organisations? And does increasing reliance on technology mean that many citizens are excluded from genuine participation?

There was broad agreement that in an interconnected world of social media the skill of communicating planning ideas to the public and also understanding the public’s concerns is of growing importance. It is probably now time to ensure that planning teams should include specialists in communication, using the greater variety of forms now possible.

It was felt that change management should be a required planning skill, and this term can also be used to explain what planning is to nonplanners and close the some of the knowledge gap and empowering communities by prioritising bottom-up planning approaches

In our discussion we had quite a lot more to say about how planning should be carried out. We said that planning education is important and that planning schools should not only follow practice but also lead it. The delegates also noted the impact of globalization and that cities are planned and managed in a highly volatile context.  To respond, planning needs smart and faster methods.

Whilst the NUA calls for increased capacity for urban planning across the world.  We know from more recent assessment such as by the Commonwealth Association of Planners that urban planning capacity is weakest in the parts of the world undergoing the fastest urbanization: 2.5 billion people will be added to cities in the next 25 years. Capacity development is therefore key.  We would go further and also express concern at some approaches resulting in the best talent from the Global South being recruited to work in international agencies and in the Global North.


The event was concluded by Timothy David Crawshaw, RTPI President, who summed up the discussion briefly and thanked delegates for contributing.

These notes are now available especially to ISOCARP and Commonwealth Association of Planners as a short record reflective of sentiment across the global profession. And they form the basis for thinking about a New Planning Agenda.

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Habitat Professionals Forum launches Member-Developed Roadmap for Recovery

The UN-Habitat Professionals Forum (HPF) is proud to announce the unveiling of their Roadmap to Recovery on June 29, 2022 at the UN World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland. The Roadmap to Recovery recommits HPF’s built environment professionals to the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals by outlining 22 propositions to change the way we plan and manage our cities. These propositions will help align the separate and disparate actions of government at all levels and link policies to delivery mechanisms for meaningful and impactful urban change.

Following the document’s unveiling, built environment professionals attending the World Urban Forum were encouraged to commit to implementing the 22 propositions in their own personal practice. Over the coming months HPF’s member organizations will begin formally assigning and implementing the Roadmap’s propositions to ensure ownership over individual commitments by the appropriate discipline. While co-developed with its existing members, the HPF is encouraging all built environment professions to commit to implementing the Roadmap, and has issued a call for all those not currently part of HPF to join in this initiative. Further information about joining the collective Roadmap to Recovery effort can be found by contacting lead author Vincent Goodstadt at

Dr. Mona Rady, Chair of the HPF said: 

“The Roadmap to Recovery marks an exciting time in the history of the HPF, providing clear and actionable propositions for our members to work towards on a global scale. Working collaboratively, our organizations and their members will be able to use the Roadmap to recommit and continue contributing towards the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.”

Co-authors Vincent Goodstadt, Nicholas Kuhl, and Peter Cuming said:

“The Roadmap document is truly a collaborative effort, drawing on the collective wisdom of all HPF’s built environment professionals. Rather than an endpoint, we look forward to seeing the Roadmap bring in new built environment professional organizations, expanding the cumulative impact that we can have on our cities and regions.”

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SACPLAN have just released the 10th issue of their newsletter. They welcome a new Council for the 2021-2025 term of office, and detail their new vision, mission and values.

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ISOCARP’s 58th World Planning Congress (From Wealthy to Healthy Cities) | Brussels

October 3 - 7, 2022

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Global Planners Network Announces 72nd World Town Planning Day Statement

72nd World Town Planning Day Statement



This year, the 72nd World Town Planning Day falls during COP26. As planners, we call for nations and cities to deliver inclusive and ambitious climate measures and support a fair global transition to net zero with less use of cars, better air quality, more nature, less poverty and reduced consumption of resources and energy and non-organic goods and foods. For this to happen, we advocate for better human and technical resources to planning institutions and functions and for stronger powers to subnational governments to control land development so that local plans can be swiftly aligned to national sustainability and climate action agendas and quickly deliver on the Paris Agreement.

This will mean re-imagining planning so that the lessons learned on the limits to growth on a planet with finite resources can be shared by society. Adopting a place-based systemsthinking approach to the climate emergency requires collaboration across planning and allied professions and a flexible approach to foster innovation, learning and adaptation. Key to this will be creating capacity to allow effective strategic and participatory planning at regional and national levels, addressing inequalities and harnessing the power of data and knowledge for driving change and effectively including the voices of the most at risk from the climate emergency into our plans.

Cities host the majority of the global population and are large contributors to greenhouse gas emissions while accounting for the bulk of the global energy consumption and production of waste and pollution. At the same time, hundreds of millions of urban dwellers – and particularly the urban poor and vulnerable – are at risk from more severe or frequent storms, floods and heatwaves, constraints on fresh water and food supplies, and heightened health risks. City-regions sit at the forefront of current emergencies. Utilising effective planning across them can play a significant role in addressing the challenges of climate change. Local governments, by virtue of their close relationships with businesses, residents, and institutions, provide an opportunity for new policies to be implemented quickly in response to pressing social, environment and economic challenges. Working together in wider areas, they can bring powerful additional action to effectively tackle these challenges.

Local planning functions are key to mobilising resources, redistributing land value uplifts, and delivering truly inclusive place-based solutions to adaptation and mitigation which communities can influence, co-produce and own. The role of planning in delivering climate action at the local level is not only key for directing where we build and how we move around, but also what we build and how we build it. Planning can also co-ordinate infrastructure investments to align efforts to deliver net-zero and sustainable development. It is the firm belief of the Global Planners Network that planners throughout the world have the unique skills, the talent, the desire, and the commitment to tackle the global crisis we now face. Planners stand ready to play their part.

Download PDF of full statement

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ISOCARP Extends Abstract Submissions Deadline for 57th World Planning Congress


The International Society of City and Regional Planners’ (ISOCARP) 57th World Planning Congress taking place on 8-11 November 2021 in Doha, Qatar is extending the abstract submission deadline for its five tracks and special sessions and forums!


31 May 2021: Deadline for Abstract Submission 

22-29 June 2021: Notification of Acceptance or Rejection

31 August 2021: Final date for authors to register and pay in order to be included in the Congress Programme and Proceedings

15 September 2021: Submission of the full contribution (full paper, presentation for case study/project, details of the proposed session)

How will we unlock and build back better cities and communities? Urban and territorial planning is the vaccine. It can only be effective when applied worldwide and be made equally accessible to all people. The new planning vaccine needs to enable innovative ideas and strategies to achieve more sustainable territories.

The Congress theme ‘Planning Unlocked’ seeks to unlock planning challenges as we plan for a post-pandemic world of “New Times, Better Places and Stronger Communities”. As ISOCARP 2021 Congress goes hybrid, we strive to deliver yet again an inclusive and high-quality congress for the community of urban and regional planners as well as attendees across different disciplines, time zones, and cities, within the current global health context.

Submit your abstracts for research papers, case studies, projects, session proposal and forums before May 31, 2021 (10PM UTC)! Share this call within your networks and visit our website: for more information.

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Global Planners Network Leaders Share Perspectives on Planning and Planners’ Roles in COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery

Watch the conversation that premiered September 14, 2020, featuring the following participants:

Victoria Hills, MRTPI FICE, Chief Executive, Royal Town Planning Institute
Beth McMahon, MES, Executive Director, Canadian Institute of Planners
Joel Albizo, FASAE, CAE, CEO, American Planning Association
David Williams, CEO, Planning Institute of Australia
Martin Lewis, CEO, South African Council for Planners
CHAIR: Craig McLaren, FRTPI, Director, RTPI Scotland and Ireland

(via The Royal Town Planning Institute YouTube channel)

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Global Planners Network Reaffirms Value of Planning in Abu Dhabi Declaration

Logo of the 10th World Urban Forum

The World Urban Forum (WUF) was established in 2001 by the United Nations to address one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change, and policies. Convened by UN-Habitat, the 10th Forum was held in Abu Dhabi February 8–13, 2020, to address the challenges of sustainable urbanization.

The Global Planners Network (GPN) hosted a session highlighting what planners are doing to tackle climate change and issued the Abu Dhabi Declaration, outlining the values and role of planners in regional and urban development. The declaration will help guide discussions with stakeholders and the general public to elevate understanding of planning and its key role in all communities.

Among the key elements of the declaration are promoting the sustainable development goals, social equity, participation, and good governance. At World Urban Forum 9 in Kuala Lumpur, the GPN session focused on good governance as fundamental to good planning.

Planning was included in the outcome document of WUF 10, especially in terms of providing a participatory platform for diverse interests to make communities better. In addition, the value of cultural and natural heritage was part of the overall theme of WUF 10 and incorporated in the sessions and meetings hosted by our partners. Two GPN members — President Dy Currie of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) and President Eleanor Mohammed of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) — both spoke at the Habitat Professionals Roundtable.

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World Urban Forum 10

Logo of the 10th World Urban ForumAbu Dhabi is hosting the 10th version of the World Urban Forum, February 8–13, 2020. The focus is “Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation.”

At this forum, Global Planners Network and the American Planning Association are joining together in a networking event showcasing cultural elements of planning. Since World Urban Forum 3 at Vancouver in 2006, Global Planners Network has added content and a voice for planning to these important biennial events.

Held every two years, World Urban Forums attract over 15,000 participants from over 100 countries to participate in the global conversation about the future of cities and towns. The World Urban Forums are organized by a part of the UN called UN Habitat.

World Urban Forum (WUF) was established in 2001 by the United Nations to address rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies. Convened by UN-Habitat, the Forum is a high level, open and inclusive platform for addressing the challenges of sustainable urbanization. The World Urban Forum has the following objectives:

  • Raising awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders and constituencies, including the general public;
  • Improving collective knowledge on sustainable urban development through open and inclusive debate, exchange of best practices and policies, and sharing of lessons learned.
  • Promote collaboration and cooperation between different stakeholders and constituencies engaged in the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanization.

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World Town Planning Day 2019

World Town Planning Day logo 2017 small

World Town Planning Day is celebrated in 30 countries on four continents each November. It is a special day to recognize and promote the role of planning in creating livable communities. Follow happenings on Twitter at @GlobalPlanning. In celebration for 2018, Global Planners Network is pleased to share content from planning associations around the world:

American Planning Association

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)

Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP-ICU)

Planning Institute Australia (PIA)


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World Town Planning Day: A Message from the Presidents

World Town Planning Day logo

At its heart, planning is about equity: it serves to balance the competing demands and needs of all people and of the built and natural environment. Planning seeks to act in the public interest to ensure fairness in the use of land and resources between those in need of housing, of jobs, of services, and of infrastructure and those whose lives, property, or outlooks might be harmed by such development. And it serves to strike a fair balance in meeting the needs of the present generation with the future needs and quality of life of generations to come, applying the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by world leaders at a historic UN summit in New York in 2015.

That is why planning is central to humankind’s efforts to address climate change and take decisive action to safeguard our land, homes, economies, and natural habitats so that future generations might share the benefits that present generations enjoy.

In seeking equity, planning must also recognise diversity. If we are to plan properly for the needs of all people, we must recognise their diverse lifestyles and requirements — not just those of city dwellers, rich, and poor, but of those living in our rural areas and of different ethnic groups, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and social status. There is a specific need to reconcile with indigenous peoples whose languages, cultures, histories, and land management practices must be understood and respected.

To recognise diversity and to plan for all peoples, planners must also become more inclusive. We need to encompass people from all backgrounds, all ethnicities, and all sections of society — and we must include these diverse backgrounds, cultures, and requirements in all aspects of our work, in our understanding, and in our profession.

On World Town Planning Day 2019 — the 70th anniversary of the first World Town Planning Day — we, the Presidents and Chairpersons of Planning Institutes, Councils, and Associations representing over 100,000 planners across the world, salute all planners and call on you to keep up your great efforts and to champion the causes of equity, diversity, and inclusivity in your work.

Brendan Allan, Vice President, Irish Planning Institute
Nicholas Buchoud, International Representative, La Societe Francaise des Urbansites
Kurt Christiansen, President, American Planning Association
Dyan Currie, President, Commonwealth Association of Planners
Vincent Goodstadt, Honorary President, European Council of Spatial Planners
Khirallah Ben Hafaiedh, Chair, Steering Committee, Tunisian Association of Town Planners
Trevion Manning, President, Jamaican Institute of Planners
Eleanor Mohammed, President, Canadian Institute of Planners
Steve O’Connor, National President, Planning Institute of Australia
Karyn Sinclair, Board Chair, New Zealand Planning Institute
Ian Tant, President, Royal Town Planning Institute
Carolyn Trench-Sandiford, President, Caribbean Planners Association
Khetha Zulu, Chairperson, South African Council for Planners
Martin Dubbeling, President, International Society of City and Regional Planners
Jens Kramer Mikkelsen, President, International Federation for Housing and Planning

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Global Planners Network Summer 2019 Meeting

Ottawa, CIP Conference, July 6, 2019

Present: Jeff Soule, APA; Ian Tant, RTPI; Victoria Hills, RTPI; Michael Kolber, APA; Harry Burchill, CIP; Joel Albizo, APA; Kurt Christiansen, APA; Steve O’Connor; Jon Kohl; Brendan Nelson, PIA; Beth McMahon; Kristin Agnello, CAP; Eleanor Mohammed, CIP


This was the first meeting following the transition of the secretariat to the Planning Institute of Australia, with Steve O’Connor (PIA) chairing the meeting. PIA will be updating the files on the website as well as the contacts for members of GPN.

World Town Planning Day (WTPD)

The 70th Anniversary of World Town Planning Day occurs this year, and we will add links to the University of Buenos Aires (Carlos Maria della Paolera), which founded World Town Planning Day. Our colleagues at the Planning Association in Chile will help us to see about the connection to Argentina and follow up at the next meeting.

One part of WTPD will be a Global Presidents Message which will, among other things, address social equity and inclusion, climate change, and indigenous actions. A draft is being developed.

Mutual Recognition and CEOs Conversations

From time to time, the notion of mutual recognition of planning credentials has been raised. Various recognition arrangements were removed by RTPI several years ago. This is one of the future topics for the CEOs’ conversation. This opportunity for the planning organization CEOs to speak regularly is in its early stage, and the CEOs have had their first teleconference.

Strategy Session:

What can GPN do that organizations can’t do individually?

  • There is greater strength in approaching this as a group — a collective view is received far better
  • GPN very helpful when we go international; But not as valuable at a local level? How do we help transfer outside knowledge into our individual organizations?
  • GPN can help countries without planning organizations getting started.
  • There are organizations that connected with similar groups in different countries to look at as models.
  • We currently have a somewhat stratified membership — it doesn’t seem to reflect our values. Our list should be combined.
  • GPN needs to do a better job reaching out to all our members. The first step is to update the contact list.
  • The 10th World Urban Forum will occur in Abu Dhabi next February. A draft side event will be prepared and submitted. We should plan for our participation and be proactive in our efforts and decide what themes that we want to focus on.
  • Planners for Climate Action was created in November 2017 and is very active. Can we work with them and also use some of their strategies?
  • We should continue to focus on the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda.
  • Diversity & Equity
    • Western thinking may not resonate around the world
    • CAP awards is an example of how Caucasians dominate through leadership and funding. Cultural diversity and equity is so important. We need to speak up and create safe space for people to speak up
    • What we really need to focus on is a culture change. We need a separate discussion on this topic.
  • Healthy and sustainable housing should be among our topics
  • GPN doesn’t need to be a content creator but a network for sharing — a planning community that can share information.
  • Caribbean Planners Association uses Facebook but not so much Twitter. We need to explore all communication mediums to help to reach out to our members.
Governance and Awards Idea

Everyone is supportive of the CEOs driving the discussion on governance during the bi-monthly calls. It was suggested that each Institute nominate one award to highlight an award — links on the GPN website — aligned to SDGs. Concerns were raised about equity and diversity within the GPN at the moment. The decision was to wait on this idea until we are in a better position with representation.

We will continue to try out Basecamp and see how it works. Members would like to move to a video conference — Meet Me, for example. PIA will investigate and report back.

CIP reported just over 800 delegates at its centennial conference in Ottawa. There is a high level of engagement throughout Canada, and issues of indigenous reconciliation are something from which we can all learn.

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Global Planning Updates

Global Planning Updates

UN-Habitat General Assembly

The arm of the United Nations that is focused on cities, UN-Habitat, held its first-ever General Assembly in Nairobi in May. The American Planning Association (APA) has partnered with UN-Habitat and provided information and participation in preparing its most recent strategic plan. In addition to the formal meetings of Habitat, the World Urban Campaign, a collection of non-governmental organizations, met to consider its role in providing advice to UN-Habitat.

Since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA) were adopted, the World Urban Campaign has focused on five areas:

  • Awareness
  • Influence
  • Practical application
  • Integration of reports and conventions
  • Changes in policies and practice

Awareness of the value of planning and value of cultural and natural heritage has grown over the period since the adoption of the SDGs in late 2015. This is evidenced by increased participation of cultural and natural heritage experts in meetings and in the incorporation of language that reflects goals and objectives reinforcing the value of heritage in urbanization.

The concept note that ICOMOS — the International Council on Monuments and Sites — prepared has achieved wide recognition and continues to inform, influence and expand awareness. At recent high-level meetings in New York on the future of urbanization within the United Nations, representatives from member states reflected the increased influence of planning for cultural and natural heritage in their comments.

Planners for Climate Action

Planners for Climate Action (P4CA), a “cooperative initiative” under the UNFCCC’s Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action, is an initiative that provides a significant vehicle for knowledge sharing and exchange, to coordinate and apply best practices in implementation. It brings together key associations of planning professionals, educators, and practitioners.

At the UN-Habitat General Assembly, P4CA held a side event that packed the room to:

  • Announce/analyze the results of the global call for courses for the Repository (and commit to renewing the global call on a continuous basis)
  • Announce the growing number of members/affiliates (now 100!) and appeal to join
  • Explain the communication work (website, social media, appeal to follow us, etc.), the mapping exercise (about 30 people/organizations have replied to the survey and submitted some interesting best practices)

Global Planners Network Updates

The Global Planners Network (GPN) is a network of planning organizations and supporting organizations that shares information and promotes good planning, globally. GPN meets by telephone regularly and face to face at each other’s national planning conferences.

The administration of GPN rotates among members. After a three-year leadership stint, APA turned over the management to the Planning Institute of Australia’s capable team. The next few months will see the GPN update its strategy, which currently dates to 2016. All suggestions are welcome.

Please contact Jeff Soule, FAICP, for more information

Documents in Resources

Check out links to three new UN-Habitat Documents on the GPN Resources page.

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International Activities at APA’s National Planning Conference

In San Francisco, the American Planning Association (APA) expects to host a large contingent of planners from around the world from April 13–16, 2019. The 2019 National Planning Conference affords a chance for the members of the Global Planners Network (GPN) to get together face to face for a meeting. On the agenda are each members’ updates, other conferences, and topics including building planning capacity worldwide.

GPN also hosts a session on the morning of April 14 showcasing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Members will share how national, state, and local action is promoting and incorporating the SDGs into plans and development rules.

APA is one of the founders of Planners for Climate Action. “Planners for Climate Action” (P4CA) is a “cooperative initiative” under the UNFCCC’s Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action. This initiative shares knowledge, coordinates action, and identifies best practices for implementation. It brings together key associations of planning professionals, educators, and practitioners in a global platform.

P4CA will host a conference session on April 15 to highlight the role of planners in climate action. International charters and agreements such as the Paris Accords and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide support for climate action and planning.

If you want to find out more about what APA’s International Division is up to, check out its business meeting on April 15, 6:30–7:30 p.m. The division is also hosting Career Services: Working Abroad on April 15 for planners interested in working abroad. Learn from professionals about gaining experience, skill development, possible career paths, and strategies to prepare for living and working abroad.

Another session that has an international sustainability component is Integrating Urban and Regional Sustainability Planning on April 13. The session describes and compares the ways in which U.S. and international planning organizations and initiatives integrate sustainable planning at regional and city levels, exploring if one level does or should set the agenda or context for the other.

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APA Engages Old and New International Partners

Trams ply the snowy streets of Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation. Photo by Jeffrey Soule.
Trams ply the snowy streets of Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation. Photo by Jeffrey Soule.

By Jeffrey Soule
APA Director of Outreach

Over the course of six weeks at the end of 2018, the American Planning Association‘s international outreach collaborated with several global partners, including Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the Russian Federation. APA has welcomed cooperation from the Saudis over the last several years in reviewing master plans. The Singapore Institute of Planners (SIP) is a member of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), which is a long-standing member of the Global Planners Network.

APA has supported the Singapore Institute of Planners by providing members and senior staff to participate in their annual Urban Planning Foundation Course, held over a three-day period each year. Topics include planning for sustainability and comparative planning from a global perspective. Following the training program, we also met with the board of SIP to discuss further collaboration.

Following a meeting in APA’s Washington office earlier this year, the U.S. State Department received a request for follow up technical assistance and knowledge exchange in three Russian Federal cities: Perm, Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk, all in the South Ural region. State Department support for travel and arranging the meetings made the trip a successful opportunity to engage Russia for the first time.

Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation. Photo by Jeffrey Soule.
Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation. Photo by Jeffrey Soule.

International Partners Welcome APA Interactions

Over the past month and a half, APA has strengthened and expanded its international ties.

Our colleagues in Saudi Arabia continue to seek support from us through a contract to review the Master Plan for Jazan New City. Jazan is in the far Southwest of Saudi Arabia, near the Yemen border. APA previously provided another such review for the New City plan for Yanbu in 2015. Saudi law requires an objective third party to review all master plans for advice before final approval.

Some of the features of the partially completed plan include economic diversification, ecological protection, and eco-tourism in the offshore islands and underwater systems, and transportation infrastructure regional strategy.

The Singapore Institute of Planners has reached out to APA for participants in their annual professional development training program. This program consists of three days of intensive courses on a variety of topics. Over the years, APA has provided talks by members and senior staff on sustainable planning and comparative analysis of different planning systems and practices.

One of the interesting debates in Singapore now is how much industrial development should be provided in the plan versus letting the market decide and letting some industrial development move off to nearby Malaysia.

The planning story of Singapore is a tremendous one. The city-state we now take for granted as one of the Asian powerhouses was mostly underserved and overcrowded slums as recently as 1960. Read planning legend Liu Thai Ker’s account here:

Singapore: From left, Wilfred Loo, Dr. Roisin Willmott, Jeffrey Soule, John Acres, Evlyn Cheong, and Dr. Liu Thai Ker. Photo courtesy Evlyn Cheong.
Singapore: From left, Wilfred Loo, Dr. Roisin Willmott, Jeffrey Soule, John Acres, Evlyn Cheong, and Dr. Liu Thai Ker. Photo courtesy Evlyn Cheong.

APA has been fortunate to cultivate the support of the U.S. State Department over the years. Most recently, following a very successful meeting with a high-level Russian delegation in April, a formal request from a few Russian cities for a follow-up visit was sent by Russia to our Embassy in Moscow. A series of speaking and meeting engagements as well as news media interviews and outreach were skillfully arranged by the Consulate located in Yekaterinburg, a city of over 1 million in the Southern Ural mountain region.

Each city — Perm, Yekaterinburg, and Chelyabinsk — presented its own unique qualities and challenges. Among the common issues in each were how to engage the communities and stakeholders in the planning process, regional economic linkages, environmental conservation and cleanup of industrial sites, and open space management and planning.

The speaking engagements included several universities where students and faculty turned out in large numbers. Participation was excellent, with over an hour of Q and A each time. Questions on dealing with the automobile, historic and cultural conservation, pollution management and clean up and visual controls offered an opportunity to share American failures and successes on these and other topics.

To summarize, planners around the world have much more in common than differences, and cities can benefit a great deal from sharing their stories of challenges, community engagement, and success.

Please write to for more information.

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World Town Planning Day 2018

World Town Planning Day logo 2017 small

World Town Planning Day is celebrated in 30 countries on four continents each November. It is a special day to recognize and promote the role of planning in creating livable communities. Follow happenings on Twitter at @GlobalPlanning. In celebration for 2018, Global Planners Network is pleased to share content from planning associations around the world:

American Planning Association

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)

Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP-ICU)

Planning Institute Australia (PIA)


International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP)

Among this year’s topics are:

How can planners identify best practices to inform their work from beyond international borders?

Border Urban Areas
Learn how to uncover their potential and balance local, state, and national priorities.

International Smart Cities
Learn strategies and tools used internationally to adopt information and communication technologies for better city planning, management, and governance.

Planning for Migrants and Refugees
As many as 500–600 million people globally may have to move because of climate change.

Planning at the United Nations
Explore the role of urban planning within the United Nations, especially the UN-Habitat program. Learn how UN-Habitat uses urban planning principles to improve urban settlements worldwide.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Planning in the Developing World
Cities in the developing world are struggling to address rapid population growth and major challenges from climate change.

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Update on APA International Activities

By Jeff Soule

The American Planning Association (APA) has been taking the lead in Global Planners Network over the last two years. Now the Canadian Institute of Planners/L’institut canadien des urbanistes will assume that role for the upcoming two years.

Global Planners Network meets by phone on a bimonthly basis to discuss each organization’s activities and identify common areas of cooperation such as Climate Change Action.

Global Climate Action Summit

At the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September, APA joined ICOMOS and others to host a workshop on the role of planners in climate change. APA is one of the founders of Planners for Climate Action. “Planners for Climate Action” (P4CA) is a “cooperative initiative” under the UNFCCC’s Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action. This new initiative will be a significant vehicle for knowledge sharing and exchange, for coordinating action and for realizing best practices in the implementation. It will bring together key associations of planning professionals, educators, and practitioners.

To help promote and expand awareness of the P4CA initiative, APA was pleased to join our friends at SPUR to co-host an event just before the Global Climate Action Summit. APA invited planners and planning advocates around the Bay Area to join the panel discussion that featured representatives from P4CA, the Bay Area, and ICOMOS.

Nancy Somerville, CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects, was invited to provide comments before the floor was opened for questions. P4CA is participating in the upcoming American Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) annual conference in Buffalo with a panel scheduled in the program. While at the summit, I participated in the meeting of the recently-formed Climate Heritage Mobilization Network which promotes cooperation among the design fields with heritage and cultural conservation experts.

Shenzhen Officials Delegation

A special thank you to the APA members who recently hosted a delegation of 22 local officials from Shenzhen, China. They visited Boston and San Francisco and met with a variety of public and private planners to learn and present the plans for Shenzhen.

“We were honored to host the team from Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Planning & Land Supervision,” said Khalil Mogassabi of the Cambridge Community Development Department said. It is so great to have had this exchange of ideas and information about our cities’ respective planning agencies. We are glad to hear that you also enjoyed our meeting. We appreciated your presentation about Shenzhen — what an impressive and beautiful city!”

APA depends on members like Khalil to make this program effective.

Upcoming Activities

Upcoming activities for APA International include hosting a delegation from Shanghai in November 2018 in New York City and teaching comparative planning systems and global urbanization at the Singapore Institute of Planners annual training program.

Please contact me anytime at

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Global Planners Network Spring 2018 Meeting

New Orleans, APA National Planning Conference

Present:  APA, CIP, ISOCARP, PIA, RTPI, AARP (Guest)


Jim Drinan welcomed the group expressing thanks to all who attended the National Planning Conference (NPC).

From left, Tim Van Epp (APA), Jim Drinan (APA), Harry Burchill (RTPI), Brendan Nelson (PIA), Ric Stephens (ISOCARP), Beth McMahon (CIP), Ken Forrest (CIP), Cynthia Bowen (APA), Jeff Soule (APA), Eleanor Mohammed (CIP), Stephanie Firestone (AARP), and Roberto Moris (Chilean Planners).
From left, Tim Van Epp (APA), Jim Drinan (APA), Harry Burchill (RTPI), Brendan Nelson (PIA), Ric Stephens (ISOCARP), Beth McMahon (CIP), Ken Forrest (CIP), Cynthia Bowen (APA), Jeff Soule (APA), Eleanor Mohammed (CIP), Stephanie Firestone (AARP), and Roberto Moris (Chilean Planners).
Recap of World Urban Forum, Feb 2018, Kuala Lumpur

GPN members sponsored or participated in 30 sessions, on a variety of topics including sustainable development, heritage conservation and transportation.  The focus of WUF 9 was on the practical aspects of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) implementation. APA sponsored an SDG panel that demonstrated SDGs implementation by US cities including New York and San Jose. In July 2018 there will be a high-level UN meeting on implementation of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda. APA will attend and participate in the discussions on behalf of GPN.

International Activities at the NPC

A number of sessions focused on international planning issues and cases while others included international examples. Sessions were uniformly well attended.  APA will be doing follow up review and analysis of the NPC and will share any highlights. The International Dinner was held at Galatoire’s.

Updates from Members

Eleanor Mohammed — CIP
There may be a perception problem with GPN most often being represented by white officials of English-speaking, Commonwealth country planning associations. An International Committee has been restarted.

This year is the CIP Centenary which will be celebrated July 13 in Ottawa. They are developing policies around issues like indigenous communities, healthy communities and climate change and are working, through their international officer, on a publication Plan Canada.  This will include an international section on best practice and suggest a link to the GPN would be useful. CIP will be attending the Caribbean urban forum in June and noted that there will represent GPN there.

Ric Stephens — ISOCARP
ISOCARP and the World Bank are developing a partnership to provide technical assistance and professional planning services to developing countries. The next WUF will be in Dubai in 2020; GPN should to start planning soon. The next ISOCARP congress is October 1-5 with the theme “Cool Planning” to focus on climate change action. GPN should consider representation to deal with international crises. Such organizations exist at national level (e,g, Canadem, Canada and NORCAP, Norway). The Global Alliance for Urban Crises (GAUC) is developing training and rosters for humanitarian disaster response. This should be a topic for NPC19. Noted that RTPI and ISOCARP have representatives on the Global Alliance for Urban Crises.

Tim Van Epp — APA International Division
There were 8 international sessions at NPC 2018, including 6 endorsed by the International Division. An International Track has been established for the NPC 2019 in San Francisco. The portal for session proposals will be open June 1 through June 25. Only APA members can submit proposals, so we are evaluating whether co-sponsorship is possible; in any event, we are open to session suggestions and speakers from other GPN members  The international sessions should be coordinated theme-wise with each other and with other divisions/domestic sessions. Session concepts include: GPN overview, UN Habitat Planners for Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples (and Working Abroad, Livable Communities for ALL Ages).  GPN should proactively engage and invite representatives of its full membership of 30+ country associations to the NPC.

Jeff Soule — APA
A paper on knowledge based governance is to be presented to the board in September. It is focused on how should APA interact internationally and promote interests outward and inwards based on knowledge of both members and the world situation. APA seeks to incorporate GPN influence and comment on UN Habitat’s strategic re-structuring. Jeff serves as a liaison to UN Habitat through their World Urban Campaign. (WUC)

Brendan Nelson — PIA
PIA will be taking over the lead of GPN Starting with the next meeting. The GPN 5-year plan should be revisited and revised accordingly. International planning awards is something GPN could consider. PIA is advocating an Australian national settlement strategy. National Government is recognising immigration is a hot topic with the press, and represents a strain on growth and infrastructure. Australia has appointed a Minister of Cities and PIA is advocating for a national chief planner. PIA would like to further discuss GPN Governance and hopes to ensure continuity. They suggest setting up an International calendar so members can support each other’s’ events and recognise international best practices links on the website.

Roberto Moris — Chile
Emphasized how planning is becoming global, e,g.: aging is now a global issue, not just a western problem. Resilience, risk management, technology, and immigration are all issues that reflect the need for stronger international links between planning professionals. Chilean planners are in the process of organizing themselves.

Harry Burchill — RTPI
There is a change in executive leadership at RTPI: All expressed thanks to Trudi for what she has done and looking forward to meeting Victoria Hills. RTPI is actively engaged with the new National Planning Policy Framework in England (we had fought strongly for SDG’s to be included). Highlighted better planning programmes and briefly summarised research including location of development. Also mentioned work on UK Built Environment Advisory Group (UKBEAG).

Stephanie Firestone — AARP/International Division Project:  Livable Communities for ALL Ages
Sponsored a session at NPC 2018 on Phase 1 (funded by an APA Divisions Council $7K Research Grant); another session will be held later this summer and then a Phase 2 session at NPC 2019 in San Francisco.

Phase 2 funding– AARP is considering internal 2018 funding and is working with Christine Ott, APA Development Director, to find external funding for 2019 (in addition to in-kind resources that APA can provide). For a July 9-18 aging side event at another conference, AARP invited suggestions from the group on global south aging and livable community experts to speak.

Work Plan for 2018

UN Habitat Strategic Plan is open for comments and will guide their work over the next 5 years.  We mentioned the High Level Political forum in NYC this July which will be attended by APA and will offer an agenda that GPN can incorporate in an updated work plan.

World Town Planning Day

China made World cities day a national holiday. GPN needs to decide what activities it will do / promote. Everyone agreed that last year’s effort to decentralize the WTPD effort was a step in the right direction. Eleanor explained that CIP takes a piecemeal approach; some local governments persuade their mayors to issue a declaration. Perhaps other members could persuade their local officials to do the same, supported by a hashtag.

Next Meeting

PIA will call the next meeting in late May-early June.

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GPN Partners at World Urban Forum 9

Since World Urban Forum 3 at Vancouver in 2006, partners in the Global Planners Network have added content and a voice for planning to these important biennial events. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is hosting the 9th version of the Forum, February 7–13, 2018, with more than 20,000 attendees from all around the globe.

CAPTION: At World Urban Forum 9, from left, Eleanor Mohammed, president of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP); Dy Currie, president of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP); John Acres, president of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI); and Ric Stevens, vice chair of APA's International Division and president of ISOCARP.
At World Urban Forum 9, from left, Eleanor Mohammed, president of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP); Dy Currie, president of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP); John Acres, president of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI); and Ric Stevens, vice chair of APA’s International Division and president of ISOCARP.

The focus of this WUF is the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, adopted by all the countries of the world in Quito, Ecuador, in 2016. Among the examples of implementation in the U.S. are Baltimore and New York, which are already incorporating the Urban and Community Goal and indicators and these cities were highlighted at the New York NPC session on this topic.

Members of Global Planners Network in attendance include APA, the Canadian Institute of Planners, the Royal Town Planning Institute, Commonwealth Association of Planners, Planning Institute of Australia, the International Society of City and Regional Planners, the International Federation of Housing and Planning, the New Zealand Institute of Planners, and Renaissance Urban of France.

Global Planners Network Session

Global Planners Network was successful in submitting a networking session on the topic of Good Governance and Good Planning, offering insights into the key role of planning in good governance. The Quito Implementation Plan for the New Urban Agenda (NUA) states three priorities that lead to sustainable urbanization: a supportive governance structure, 21st century urban planning, and establishing sound financing mechanisms.

This networking session demonstrated specific ways planning increases transparency; improves government integration; and creates a platform for public, private, and NGO collaboration. Often the barrier to healthy and inclusive communities is social and political. Engaging citizens and stakeholders in the planning process ties good governance to the outcomes of planning and the NUA.

GPN members highlighted the important linkage among statutes, incentives, and government structure in making planning work for everyone. Case examples from Brisbane, Australia, to Beaumont, Canada, gave the audience a great cross-section of practical ideas to better serve our communities.

Additional GPN Participation

In addition, GPN members participated in over a dozen other sessions as panelists presenting on topics such as community engagement, TOD, density bonuses, cultural heritage conservation, cultural mapping, and green space networks.

GPN also was part of the launch of Planners for Climate Action, coming together as a new cooperative initiative under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action. The new initiative was publicly launched on Human Settlements Day (November 11, 2017) at the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) to the UNFCCC in Bonn, and the group met and hosted several sessions at WUF9.

We also engaged with ICOMOS in promoting the value of cultural heritage as a framework for more livable cities. A session highlighting the importance of cultural heritage in planning was held in cooperation with a local Malaysian partner, Think City. Ege Yildirim, the ICOMOS Focal Point on the Sustainable Development Goals joined many of the GPN meetings and events.

Please contact Jeff Soule at for more information.

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GPN Preparation for United Nations Habitat III

Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, is taking place in Quito, Ecuador, on 17-20 October 2016. The conference offers a chance for the international community at all levels to harmonize its understanding of the problems and opportunities posed by current trends in urbanization. At the table will be nearly 200 national governments that make up the U.N. General Assembly, with support from cities, the private sector and civil society.

The Global Planners Network will be represented in the Habitat III Exhibition (Area F, booth # 155) by APA, RTPI, PIA, CIP, ISOCARP, ICOMOS, IFHP and GPA, and is pleased to share this space with the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Landscape Architects.

GPN is also hosting a Side Event titled “Planning for Public Engagement” on Monday, 17 October from 8:00 to 9:00 am at the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana Benjamín Carrión, Room R18. Attendees will hear practical tools and techniques for engaging the public in planning. Cases from around the globe will be shared by representatives of the American Planning Association, Canadian Institute of Planners, Planning Institute of Australia and the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Learn more about the Road to Habitat III by reviewing these key resources:

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Delivering Better Development

Delivering Better Development is free to download from the RTPI and Global Planners Network websites! Partners are encouraged to upload it to your own institutes’ websites or include a link if easier! It will also feature on the Global Planners Network Stand at UN-Habitat’s Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador, next year.

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