56th ISOCARP Congress, Doha, Qatar, 8-12 November 2020

Official Congress Website Dates to Remember
24 February 2020 Call for Abstracts
24 April 2020 Deadline for Abstracts Submission
31 July 2020 Deadline for Contributions (papers, session proposals, case studies)

Recent environmental research suggests that humanity 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 municipalities are developing new approaches to urban planning. These new plans and strategies frequently 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. 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 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.

As cities produce their own place-specific plan – which may be generically referred to as their “Urban Green Deals” – a reservior 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 solves 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.

Capitalizing on our successful ‘Cool Planning’ 2018 World Planning Congress in Bodø, Norway and other previous congresses dealing with various issues and topics important to the concept of Urban Green Deals, this Congress will—in addition to the broad global perspective—explore the adaptation of climate-responsive planning to ‘hot places’ such as Doha and peer-cities in other arid-climate regions. Planning practices that work for cool and hot places should be helpful for all other cities across the volatile hot-cool spectrum.

The 2020 World Planning Congress will be staged in Msheireb Downtown Doha, a unique and ambitious downtown urban regeneration project. It revived the old district with a new architectural language that is modern, yet inspired by traditional Qatari heritage and architecture. Msheireb Downtown Doha aspires to become a new social and civic hub in the centre of the city – where it is enjoyable to live, work, experience culture and simply walk or cycle around with family and friends – and therefore a great place to host the ISOCARP Congress.

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. Old spatial structures need to be adapted to these concepts. Papers and presentations within this track shall focus on including these aspects in city planning and development concepts and processes.

In particular, the following issues may be discussed:

    • Urban sustainability
    • Urban metabolism and ecological assessment
    • Redesigning the urban metabolism in view of sustainability goals (Reshaping Urban Metabolism)
    • Metabolism and urban resource management
    • Urban development strategy options to the urban metabolism optimal path
    • Green building and urban thermal metabolism
  1. Ensuring the Economic Diversity and Resilience

For economic sustainability and resilience, post-oil cities should target on preparing frameworks for investments to locally respond to global trends. Understanding the post-oil realities and the global competitiveness as well as to maintain healthy economy, cities of any size need to consider embracing the emerging opportunities across economic cycles as drivers of growth. Within this area the issues of shaping the knowledge-based society and developing the circular economy should be put in the foreground of the future city debate. This is about understanding to what extent the generation of knowledge and innovation will influence the structures focused on traditional production.

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

    • Aspects regarding structural flexibility for economy opportunism
    • Knowledge-Research-Education-Technology
    • Tourism-Trade-Business Service-MICE (Meetings Incentives Conferencing Exhibitions)
    • Art-Culture-Creative Entrepreneurship
    • Financial Services
    • Green Manufacturing-Engineering
    • Circular economy
  1. 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:

    • 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
  1. Safeguarding the Urban Resilience

Climate change adaptation, urban greening, self-sufficiency and community engagement are the fundamentals of urban resilience policies and practices. But this concept should not be limited to these aspects only – it often requires more comprehensive, locally-inspired and site-specific solutions. Both comprehensive strategies and place-specific concepts are important. What becomes of crucial importance is how the local urban resilience policies and solutions can be shaped and what makes them site-specific or universal.

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

    • Urban resources towards more resilient cities
    • Governing the resilient city
    • Regional resilience
    • The built environment and resilient cities
    • Urban mitigation policy, practice, and knowledge to understand regional resilience
  1. 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
  1. Creating Healthy and Inclusive Urban Environment

Fostering clean air, clean water, accessible medicare and physical activity – these are the items on the agenda of the “healthy city”. In addition to these, the design of inclusive and people needs oriented public spaces and commons – catering for the needs of both children, seniors and differently-abled members of the community – is gradually becoming mainstream. As a result, innovative practices and new theoretical approaches to the issue as well as their applicability to different spatial and socio-economic contexts are more and more discussed parts of development strategies.

Papers and presentations within this track shall focus on:

    • Ensuring well-being in cities
    • Understanding the role of sport and entertainment in urban planning
    • Inclusion of various minorities and groups with different needs
    • Gender, Class and Equality in Public Spaces
    • Cities for All: Inclusion of the Young and Elderly
    • Public Health and its correlation to Urban Design and Planning
  1. Shaping Liveable Places

Creating holistic urban environments is of utmost importance for contemporary city and regional planners. This is frequently associated with understanding the importance of walkability, which translates, for example, into shaping walkable streets and neighbourhoods. But the process of shaping people-oriented places include understanding of the importance of “placemaking”, which is often associated with focusing on social interactions in space and changing social structure of the city.

Papers and presentations within this track shall deal with both concepts and practices associated with these issues, as well as:

    • Ways of integrating comprehensive planning solutions for cities and regions
    • Data Collection and Means of Measuring Liveability
    • Building Human-Scaled Cities and Neighbourhoods.
    • Planning for active and healthy cities

Special Track: The Future Desert/Hot City

Aside from the main tracks, the special session on the Future Desert / 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 desert cities that adopt international-city making paradigm does not resolve many of the unique challenges. 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 comprehensive and holistic fashion in order to allow to reshape our future desert cities as well as to seek appropriate sustainable and liveable models for urban areas in the desert context.

Papers and presentations within this special session shall focus on:

    • Climate appropriate planning and design for arid environment (urban structure, urban system, urban form, public realm, building, landscape)
    • Appropriate size, population and development density for desert context
    • Appropriate hard infrastructure (transport, housing, innovative technology, utility) for desert context
    • Appropriate soft infrastructure (policies, governance, institutions, culture, education) for desert context

The Congress will also include a series of Special Sessions and Forums, including:

  • Participation Session: Community-based planning, local empowerment and self-organisation (including presentations from planning practice – invitation will be extended to ISOCARP members and their companies).
  • Youth Forum:  Focusing on Young Planners ideas and concepts regarding the urban future (including lessons learnt from ISOCARP YPPs projects).
  • Planning Sessions: Innovative and inspiring planning practices (including discussions on results and lessons learnt from ISOCARP UPATs projects as well as presentations from planning practice – invitation will be extended to ISOCARP members and their companies).
  • Education Forum: Addressing the growing needs for planning education and long-life learning (in possible partnership with association(s) of planning schools).
  • Planning Research Sessions: Matching planning practices with planning research and science(in possible partnership with universities / other organizations focused on promotion of planning research and science).

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.

The 56th World Planning Congress marks the 55th anniversary of the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP). It will mark the end of ‘Urban October 2020’ and is the gateway to the 71st World Town Planning Day, held yearly on the 8th of November. It will also provide a unique opportunity to send a planner’s message to the highly anticipated COP 26 Climate Conference that is expected to take place from 9-19 November 2020 in Glasgow, UK.

For more information, please click here.

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