September 21 2012

UN-Habitat World Urban Forum 6: A Global Application of “The Planner’s Triangle”

World Urban Forum 6 "The Urban Future"

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?

The Planner's Triangle

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?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Alexandria Stankovich

Alexandria Stankovich graduated from The University of Michigan with a B.S. in Architecture. In order to gain an authentic understanding of the urban context through the lens of education, she became a Denver, Colorado corps member with Teach for America, teaching elementary Special Education. Returning to metro-Detroit, Michigan, Alexandria writes about the innovative design projects and urban programs taking place in the Motor City. Fueled by her passions for the triple bottom line - environment, economy, and social equity – Alexandria is now working on her Masters in Urban & Regional Planning. She is specializing in Physical Planning and Real Estate Development.

Website - Twitter - Facebook - More Posts

This entry was posted on Friday, September 21st, 2012 at 10:34 am and is filed under Education and Careers, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


Leave a Reply

six + 6 =


Follow US