56th ISOCARP Virtual World Planning Congress

Official Congress Website  

Advisory Note in the Response to the Coronavirus Situation

While dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, we need to plan ahead to be more health resilient as a largely urban species. This needs to be combined and aligned with our imperative planning challenge to halt and reverse global warming and critical loss of biodiversity.

Therefore, we must move away from oil, gas and coal to reduce pollution, reduce various other environmental concerns and mitigate the processes of anthropogenic climate change.

Today, because most of the human population lives in cities and the trend of massive (and frequently unordered and uncontrolled) urbanisation is accelerating, the urban areas are in the foreground of this “battle for the future”; to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

To win this battle many cities and local authorities are already developing new approaches to urban planning, but efforts need to be stepped and scaled up in this Decade of Action to implement the SDG’s by 2030.

These new plans and strategies will include ideas associated with reshaping the overall city structure, including redistribution of uses, rethinking the transport system, greening of the urban structure and the provision of people-oriented design solutions to make our cities more health-resilient. Within these plans are new considerations about the nature of economic development and concerns to insure proper employment. And, as usual, the needs and expectations of local communities are a central part of this planning discussion. All of these elements constitute the core of the process to achieve sustainable urban and regional development designed to achieve health- and climate-responsive actions and policies. Since our cities differ a lot, reflecting the various geographies and cultures of the world, it is hard to define one set of solutions that will work globally. Globally acclaimed planning principles need a place-based and people-centred approach.

As cities produce their own place-specific plan – which may be generically referred to as their “Urban Green Deals” – a wealth of experiences is developed containing ideas to understand the problems, recognise possible solutions and identify ways to implementing changes. These Urban Green Deals are about ensuring the well-being of citizens while profoundly changing the way cities operate within the ecosystem. In light of this effort, the main purpose of the congress is to discuss how these Urban Green Deals may be shaped, which of the issues are most important in particular settings, how to plan and implement them, as well as discussing how they can contribute to the Global Agenda.

The Gulf States have been largely developed thanks to oil and other non-renewable resources exports. Their fast growing and thriving smart cities as forerunners in the region and beyond. At the same time, the cities and states in this region are facing environmental, social and economic consequences of this model of development. Therefore, there is a growing understanding of the need for complex action to solve these problems. Hence, the Gulf-cities’ leadership has initiated and propagated the need for a new planning paradigm of carbon-neutral, liveable and loveable, knowledge-based cities that has inspired planners and decision-makers from all over the world.

Selected topics and issues for Future Post-Oil Cities Congress include:

1. Understanding Urban Metabolism

The concepts of urban metabolism and resources management are becoming a crucial part of integrated urban planning for energy, water, food, land and waste. Part of this game is dealing with new alternatives regarding energy sources, provision and usage on one hand, and with dealing with waste in a circular way on the other hand. Old spatial and functional structures need to be adapted to these concepts and new social and economic practices are needed to improve the metabolic efficiency of future cities.

Urban metabolism approach needs to address the city in all nuances of city’s life to solve urban problems in a long-term and in a strategic perspective, and to formulate a comprehensive and strategic urban development plan and action to maintain the continuous improvement of urban material, environmental, social and economic conditions. This view has very close common ground with many relevant theories around the world, such as e.g. the “City Betterment and Ecological Restoration” in China. In the era of searching for the leverages of improving the urban quality and efficiency, urban development needs to step in and get aligned with the urban metabolic concept of “renewal, replacement and growth”. This demands global planners to pay attention to the problems that stand out in this process. In particular the cities with a long history must pay attention to the new requirements of the times, and need to focus on the issues caused by a separation of urban functions, low environmental quality, unequal development or insufficient support for urban renewal.

How should the city reshape its metabolism? How could planners help the efficient and organic urban renewal? How do urban economics and urban policy contribute to a more efficient urban metabolism? How shall urban planning address the mechanisms of urban metabolism to prevent and respond to sudden urban disasters?

Papers and presentations within this track shall focus on inclusion of urban metabolism aspects in city planning in different scales – from macro urban regions and cities to urban districts, neighbourhoods and their parts. Some topics the contributions may address, but are not limited to:

  • Redesigning the urban metabolism in a view of sustainability goals (Reshaping Urban Metabolism)
  • Urban metabolism and ecological assessment
  • Urban metabolism and urban resource management
  • Relations between economic model of constant growth and urban metabolism
  • Urban development strategy options to the urban metabolism optimal path
  • Sustainable neighbourhood and urban metabolism
  • Disaster Prevention under the concept of urban metabolism
  • Human needs and social dynamics in the light of urban metabolism

In this track we call for contributions focusing on theoretical reflections and applied analyses of urban projects and policies dealing with the above issues, as well as case studies from various urban contexts.

2. Ensuring the Economic Diversity and Resilience

The economic diversity and resilience in post-oil cities are reliant on establishing framework plans and strategies to guide local economic investments in response to global economic trends. What drives a city’s economy is dependent on understanding how to maintain a balanced and diverse economy, acknowledging the post-oils realities and global competitions, and acting on relevant opportunities across economy cycles. It is also essential that cities are receptive with engaging in future debates that contribute in shaping their knowledge-based society and developing a diverse and circular economy. This track is about how to understand at what extent the generation of knowledge, sustainability, and innovation will influence a city’s economic and development structure that previously focused on traditional oil-based production.

Paper submittals should be based on proven planning practices and tested solutions that address economic diversity and resilience. Below is a list of paper topics to be considered:

  • Circular Economy
  • New economic models for circularity (influencing current city development – sharing economy, online vs. locality)
  • Regenerative approach and spatial factors for economic success and resilience
  • City Planning and economy for planetary crisis
  • Green economy & regenerative approach (recycle and zero waste)
  • Tourism vs. environmental justice
  • Financial services for resilience
  • Aspects regarding structural flexibility for economy opportunism
  • Data collection for monitoring & elevation tools for implementing regenerative based solutions
  • Data driven decisions for net-zero

3. Planning for Urban Connectivity

Urban connectivity is vital for urban performance, beyond extensive reliance on private transport. Hence, the sustainable urban transport and mobility in the post-oil era need an urban mobility policy mix. These include not only new models of using the existing modes of transport, but also innovative transport solutions as well as more precise pairing the modes of urban development with provision of comfortable, reliable and sustainable transport.

Papers and presentations within this track shall focus on the following:

  • Dencity/mobility balance: planning for transit-oriented development (TOD)
  • Planning for integrated transportation models
  • Integrated planning and urban design solutions and concepts and their applicability in various contexts
  • Planning for urban permeability and connectivity
  • Innovative solutions and precise pairing the modes of urban development with provision of comfortable, reliable and sustainable transport
  • Mobile housing, distant work and on-line  employment
  • Suburban transportation pattern

4. Safeguarding the Urban Resilience

To be resilient is to recover quickly after something difficult has occurred – how can human and natural elements be utilised to make our cities less vulnerable and more resilient? This track has a strong problem-solving focus and hopes to bring together researchers and practitioners from around the world, for a constructive debate on how we can better respond to the full spectrum of urban risks, most notably the global climate emergency. How can universal challenges and events of an overwhelming scale be addressed at a local, even site-specific level? How will transformation take place? What must be transformed? Who should take the lead?

Resilience can be implemented at political, economic, as well as social geographic levels and is discussed within the existing hierarchy of local, regional, national and international actors. There are effective new strategies that have emerged from bottom up initiatives. Protection of the urban environment and enhancement of urban resilience come from interdisciplinary and comparative cases. Recent research that proposes innovative resilience methodologies is also increasingly relevant.

Papers on Safeguarding Urban Resilience could explore:

  • Network theories
  • Data collection of environmental changes
  • Carbon footprint
  • Addressing CO2 emissions caused by urban transportation and buildings
  • Interpretation of adaptive strategies and ongoing research that contributes to the safeguarding of urban resilience
  • The resources needed for more resilient cities
  • Governing the resilient city – which models are most effective and to what extent should Governments intervene in places at repeat risk of extreme events
  • The role of the built environment in making (or breaking) urban resilience
  • The knowledge, policies and practices needed to understand resilience at a regional scale
  • Techniques for moving to a mindset of preventive risk management, rather than cycles of crisis response and rebuilding
  • The architecture of resilience – contemporary case studies on exceptional infrastructure
  • Tools for climate change adaptation including urban greening, floodable landscapes, self sufficiency and community engagement
  • Growing and sustaining strong communities

5. Focusing on Heritage and Smart Culture

Culture and heritage preservation are still too often undervalued in urban redevelopment processes. Therefore, the interplay between globalisation and locality shall be explored. Numerous concepts regarding heritage inclusion in the development processes can be drafted. Besides that, the new types of cultural activities become more and more important part in our daily life. Some of these may include implementation of smart technologies, knowledge and social inclusion, for total participation in the promotion of cultural heritage. This concept – named as The Smart Cultural City – can become of crucial importance for the future city.

Papers and presentations within this track shall focus on the following:

  • Urban regeneration of cultural areas and reuse of heritage buildings in relation to technological aspects
  • Preserving urban memory associated with protecting cultural assets, manifestations of cultural activities and heritage
  • Contextualizing urban projects with understanding of the history and the societal principles of the city
  • Dealing with the issues associated with enabling local cultural industries and smart technologies
  • Understanding the significance of local assets
  • Lessons learned from the cultural developments and innovative implementation methods in the present

6. Creating Healthy and Inclusive Urban Environment

Environmental health, physical and mental health, healthy neighbourhoods and social well-being are on the agenda of the “healthy and inclusive city”. The urban built environment affect our health and well-being on a daily basis, often with lifelong effects starting in early life. Integrating the elements of clean air, clean water, noise, accessible public health services, safety (factual and perceived), healthy bodies and minds, belonging and social connections into how we design and manage our cities and neighbourhoods. Fostering people-centered approaches, enabling people to survive and thrive, inclusion and reduced inequity, combatting critical health issues such as loneliness and NCDs, and managing cultural diversity. Special attention for the design of inclusive public spaces and commons – catering for the needs and dreams of both (very young) children, women, seniors and differently-abled members of the community.  Considering too the inclusion, health and well-being of caregivers, youth, slum and migrant populations as they too often remain ‘invisible’ and fall through the cracks of city planning and management.

Over 1,4 million people are added to cities every week; 90% of urban growth happening in low- and middle-income countries. Successfully responding to the challenges of health and well-being, inequity and migration demand bold changes and forward thinking and action within and beyond urban planning. The 2020s are a crucial decade for enabling healthy people and a healthy planet. This is an opportunity for re-thinking the paradigms of urban planning.

Track 6 aims to bring deeper understanding, latest thinking and inspire solution options on how urban health and inclusion are impacted and can be improved. Spanning urban micro-design, street design, neighbourhood approaches, city-wide strategies and monitors, land-use and national urban policies. Thereby reducing existing inequities within cities. We encourage inter-disciplinary dialogue and critical reflection between urban planners and other stakeholders in the health, social and development sectors; between practitioners, researchers, community leaders and decision makers.

We want to draw-out the evidence-based strategies, innovative practices and new theoretical approaches to different spatial, cultural and socio-economic contexts around creating healthy and inclusive urban environments. What are the important lessons we have already learnt?  The data, impact and outcome measurement, tools and approaches, norms and standards needed?  What are promising innovations to put at scale?

Papers, presentations and interactive debate sessions within this track can cover:

  • Designing Public Space (systems) for healthy and active lifestyles
  • Formal and informal urban environments and public space enabling healthy (early) childhood, youth to thrive and fostering wellbeing for caregivers
  • Public health, including non-communicable diseases, and its correlation to Urban Design and Planning
  • Understanding the role of sport and entertainment in urban planning
  • Healthy food environments
  • Urban nature and nature connections for physical health and mental wellbeing
  • Ensuring health and well-being equitable access in cities across gender, age, abilities and income
  • Tools, data and approaches around healthy and inclusive neighbourhoods, with inclusion of minorities, migrants, young women and girls, elderly, and groups with different needs
  • Deepening interdisciplinary knowledge, applying scientific research to practice for healthy environments, ‘measure what matters’, measuring health outcomes
  • Emerging risks, threats and assets to healthy inclusive cities with mitigating measures and response option such as health security, pandemics

7. Shaping Liveable Places

Creating holistic liveable environments is of key importance today. Cities, in particular, face an increasing pressure on their resources and an increasing climate change threat, which exposes their residents to growing risks. At the same time, a disruptive technological revolution – Industry 4.0 –  brings opportunities to work and get services remotely. How do cities remain competitive and attract creative individuals while these major changes continue to unfold? A liveable and thriving environment is becoming a matter of their future survival.

How do we define such an environment? At first, it is people centric and responds to people’s aspirations to not only safety, accessibility and economic opportunities but also to physical and mental health, social bonds, emotional connect, inspiration and creativity. This is frequently associated with walkability, abundant green and blue ecosystems, inclusive and vibrant public places, valorized tangible and intangible heritage, local context tailored and organically built new urban fabric.

The Track 7 will delve into how city and regional planners, designers and urban practitioners help Shaping Liveable Places. The track is solution oriented and focuses on transformative ideas and actions practitioners and decision-makers can debate and learn from. It connects to a broader placemaking initiative gaining momentum in numerous countries around the world. It is hence designed as a highly interactive and immersive series of sessions, some of which will take place in selected public places.

Papers and presentations will focus on innovative solutions, and innovative formats of conveying them will be particularly welcome. Directions to explore could be:

  • Data collection and means of measuring liveability
  • Walkable and accessible spaces
  • Planning for active and healthy cities
  • Designing thriving public places
  • Building human-scaled cities and neighbourhoods
  • Megacities and liveability?
  • Local knowledge and disruptive technologies: a break-through combination?
  • Reconciling the need for building fast and affordable with the need for building sustainable and liveable
  • Creative cities: fostering inspiration, exchange and growth
  • Brand and unique value proposition: thriving habitats, identity and sustainable tourism

Special Track: The Future of Hot Cities

Aside from the main tracks, the Special Session on the Future Hot City will be organised. The rationale for this comes from the fact that approximately 30% of the world’s surface is arid lands and the cities within face greater challenges than cities in other climate zones. Whilst this natural setting is specific and irreversible, the current planning and design practices in shaping the hot climate cities that adopt international-city making paradigm does not resolve many of the unique challenges. With climate change this issue will become bigger. Understanding the natural and geographical context in arid environment will lead to the appropriate future responses tailored to address the specific challenges. All these aspects have to be discussed in a comprehensive and holistic fashion in order to allow to reshape our future hot cities as well as to seek appropriate sustainable and liveable models for urban areas in the arid climate and desert context.

Papers and presentations within this special session shall focus on:

  • Climate appropriate planning and design for arid environment (urban structure, Water Sensitive Urban Design,  urban system, urban form, public realm, building, landscape)
  • Water resilient planning and design solutions and strategies to face climate challenges and sustainable urban development growth;
  • Appropriate size, population and development density for arid climate context
  • Appropriate hard infrastructure (transport, housing, innovative technology, utility) for arid climate context
  • Appropriate soft infrastructure (policies, governance, institutions, culture, education) for arid climate context

ISOCARP Congresses rally a fine sample of urban and regional planners from across the globe and they also provide a unique platform for dialogue with decision-makers and other urban and planning stakeholders, both from the Global South and the Global North.

For more information, please click here.

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