Due to rapid global urbanization, specifically in Asia and Africa, the United Nations predicts the world population to be 67% urban by 2050. This year’s World Urban Forum (WUF6), held in Naples, Italy, was aptly themed, “The Urban Future.” September 2-6, 2012, leaders from around the world gathered to address pertinent urban planning questions, such as: What are the contemporary planning issues we face locally and internationally? How do we plan for expansion? What instrument do we use to measure progress? How do we transition from a state of informal settlements to the execution of urban design?
In 1996, University of Michigan Professor Scott Campbell proposed “The Planner’s Triangle: Three Priorities, Three Conflicts” as a theory of sustainable development. According the Campbell, in order to reach a sustainable outcome, we must address the economy, the environment, and equity simultaneously, as well as the ensuing conflicts, namely: property, development, and resources. Many conversations and debates around sustainability are now structured according to “The Planner’s Triangle,” including WUF6:
- Dialogue 1 – The Shape of Cities (Equity);
- Dialogue 2 – Equity and Prosperity (Equity and Economy);
- Dialogue 3 – Productive Cities (Economy and Environment);
- Dialogue 4 – Urban Mobility, Energy, and Environment (Environment).
While the United States and other advanced economies have numerous, often converging, notions of planning theory and methods, for many countries, the construction of urban planning institutions and regulations is a more recent undertaking. In his opening address, Dr. Joan Clos, UN-Habitat Executive Director, thoughtfully communicated the priorities of our urban future:
- Accountable political decision making;
- Use and productivity of common goods;
- Effective governance capacity;
- Adequate technical capacity.
So what is the role of planners in the urban future? According to Campbell, “The role of planners is therefore to engage the current challenge of sustainable development with a dual, interactive strategy: (1) to manage and resolve conflict; and (2) to promote creative technical, architectural, and institutional solutions.”
Do you agree with this interpretation?
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