Closing Ceremony Highlights of the 56th ISOCARP World Planning Congress

The ISOCARP 2020 Congress marked its fourth and final stage on 2-4 February 2021. After four months of over 40 Congress sessions, 165 paper and case study presentations, and over 290 registrations, ISOCARP officially closed its first fully virtual and longest World Planning Congress. Together with UN-Habitat and Urban Economy Forum (UEF), ISOCARP hosted a Place-leaders Roundtable during the Closing Plenary, with city leaders from the Global North and the Global South sharing their perspectives and experiences on planning for an Urban Green Deal.

As in previous ISOCARP congresses, the closing ceremony provided a peek into the sessions through the lens of the Congress Team members, led by General Rapporteur Piotr Lorens and Co-rapporteur Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha. The team summarised and reflected on the key takeaways of their respective tracks compiled through a 20-minute pre-recorded video. Equally important is the presentation of the Declaration of the 56th World Planning Congress. The Congress Declaration is a product of the collective efforts of the Scientific Committee, spearheaded by Dushko Bogunovich, the Congress Team, the co-hosting organisations, and all the delegates of the Congress.

While 2020 was marred by deep and all-encompassing uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, ISOCARP sees the delivery of its fully Virtual Congress as an opportunity to expand its reach, explore uncharted frontiers, and continue exchanging knowledge about ‘Planning for better cities’ in times like no other.

As ISOCARP Secretary General Frank D’hondt aptly put it, we could either adapt for the worse: “we could not dance in Doha’s new downtown as ‘planned’”; or change for the better by “reinventing the congregation of the planning community through, for example, engaging in virtual placemaking, and dancing on the Virtual Congress square of Gather.Town.” On a parallel note, and in relation to the theme of the Congress, changing for the better means seeing the opportunities created by the present global crisis for post-carbon cities and urban green deals.

We could go on and on about this experience but, ultimately, there is one clear message: the 4-month fully Virtual Congress would not have been possible without the hard work of the core team as well as the contribution and participation of all the participants involved.

We hope to finally meet everyone again in-person and dance in the streets of Downtown Mshreib at our next Congress in Doha, Qatar, 9-12 November this year. But in the meantime, let us relive the Congress through the following:

Note: The recordings are available to all registered Congress participants. To watch the sessions, you must first log in to your account, then choose the session/s you would like to watch via this page (Menu: Virtual Presentation > Event Recordings).


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