For 30 years I advocate better places through better planning. Educated in Belgium, I planned a decade long at regional, national and European level. Since then, I advise communities and authorities outside the European ‘comfort-zone’, with crisis-impacted Athens in Greece as homebase. While working worldwide as an independence free-lance planner for mainly UN-agencies, I also manage the co-founded open-source knowledge network ‘Territorial Capital institute’.
Before presenting my take on the SG position, I acknowledge the legacy of the outgoing SG. Secondly, the SG does not act on hisown (I really regret there are no female candidates!) and can only achieve the Society’s strategic goals as a team player. Yet, the SG should also be and do more that just act as an ‘admin-soldier’. As SG, I aspire to actively support and strengthen the visibility of the Society in the ongoing debate on the quality and quantity of urban and territorial planning all over our planet – at the brink of a system-chock.
Adhering to our ethical code of conduct, as an SG I’ll apply the highest ethical and professional standards, while upholding and promoting the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, disability, location, social status or sexual identity.
While the SG must perform the basic duties of (co-)managing the General Meetings, the Board, the Scientific Committee and the staff hired by the Society, I believe the SG should also assist the President and Exco-members in crafting and redacting policy statements of the Society for both internal and external use. I believe it would make ISOCARP even more relevant when we contribute to and at times provoke debate on the role and methods of urban and territorial planners at all levels of planning. We must weigh in more than ever on the agenda-setting for future urban and territorial policies, though issuing external statements after internal debate. Organizing our flagship activities and events such as the yearly world Congress and the Young Planners Workshops will remain a top priority, but we need to better use them as a launchpad to raise our voice in the territorial debate, currently dominated by urban practitioners with no planning background.
More visibility will result in more and more diverse membership, with a special effort to reach out to (young and female) planners in countries with insufficient resources to herald sustainable urban and territorial planning, development and governance – especially where we risk to lose the battle against global warming and irreversible loss of biodiversity caused by unsustainable human development.
As an informal ambassador I already learned to represent and promote ISOCARP worldwide – a title I would like to formalize a bit more to promote our growing network in all continents of the world. As incoming SG, I would keep on doing just that, but in a more organized and collaborative way, striking a balance between ambition and the limited resources at our disposal.
MSc Urban & Regional Planning