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Planning ahead for radical urbanisation

A range of practical online tools, educational resources, best practice and workshops will form part of the package of support

Kibera, Africa: an example of the challenges of increasing urbanisation
Kibera, Africa: an example of the challenges of increasing urbanisation

Three to five pilot cities in the Commonwealth will help to develop and test tools

Best practice from “well-planned” city extensions that have proven resilient will be shared

Some 2.5 billion people will be added to the urban population by the year 2050

The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community is working in partnership with The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) and The Commonwealth Local Government Forum on an initiative to tackle the challenge of rapid urbanisation.


Planning for Rapid Urbanisation 2030 will draw on the extensive experience and knowledge within the Commonwealth to co-ordinate the development of innovative, practical online tools and educational resources to support all those involved in designing towns and cities.


In 2014, 54 per cent of the world’s population were living in urban areas. Continuing urbanisation and overall growth of the world’s population is projected to add 2.5 billion people to the urban population by 2050. At the same time, the proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas is expected to increase, reaching 66 per cent by 2050, according to the UN World Urbanisation Projects.


“The scale of projected urban growth in the coming decades is quite simply beyond comprehension,” said Ben Bolgar, senior director of the Foundation, who officially announced the initiative at the CAP Conference in Fiji. “Much of that growth will be on the periphery of secondary cities and it is there that we believe simple, practical planning tools will be most effective in avoiding unplanned urban sprawl and condemning millions of people to impoverished and unsafe environments.”


The announcement of the initiative was accompanied with a video message from HRH The Prince of Wales, President of The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community.


The fast pace and scale of growth in urban areas, particularly in developing countries, means that without proper spatial planning more than half the world’s urban population will be condemned to living in slums, with the attendant negative environmental and social implications.


Research by CAP has confirmed that within the Commonwealth the problem is compounded by there being far too few property and planning professionals working in the built environment, and of those that do exist, most are invariably working in the capital cities. However, much of the projected growth is likely to be in secondary and smaller cities where the capacity to develop and enforce urban framework plans is often extremely limited.


The initiative wants to support all of those involved in designing towns and cities, regardless of whether they are property or planning professionals, so that they are prepared for rapid, but sustainable urbanisation.


Using the resources made available, they will be able to follow set processes that generate material to be dropped into templates that will create, for instance, a draft set of urban framework plans identifying and designing well-structured growth areas. Bolgar said that it will also share best practice from other city extensions that were well planned decades ago and “have demonstrated their resilience over time”.


Over the next two years, the Foundation will be running workshops with partners in three to five pilot cities in the Commonwealth who will help to test, develop and refine the tools to ensure they respond to the diverse needs of a range of different contexts.


Through the initiative, the Foundation and its Commonwealth partners aim to support local governments across the Commonwealth to deliver on UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and help meet the COP21 targets, by ensuring urban growth that is safe and sustainable, while improving urban planning and management in a way that is both participatory and inclusive. The online toolkit and case studies of pilot projects will be formally launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Spring 2018.


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