It was at the end of our Jakarta Congress last year that the idea for training barefoot planners was conceptualised. Sinking and traffic-jammed Jakarta made painfully clear that properly trained planners and civil servants at planning departments are entirely outnumbered by the scale and magnitude of the planning challenges ahead. Mobilising the most talented among them to design a smart new capital city 1000 km away might further aggravate Jakarta’s urban crisis.
Global Planning Aid is ISOCARP’s answer to the Decade of Action to make the best of the SDGs by 2030. It aspires to mobilise educated planners to train millions of community workers as ‘barefoot planners’. This is meant as a term to take pride and empowerment to help communities with a basic training in participatory and incremental urban and territorial planning and placemaking. Global Planning Aid would mainly provide training to intermediate local/regional NGOs to train grassroots communities. Only this way we can aim for scale.
This simple but ambitious idea was successfully tested on February 12, 2020 during a networking event at WUF in Abu Dhabi. The event was co-organised by ISOCARP and Planning Aid Scotland, one of the pioneers in mobilising volunteers to increase people’s access and impact on the Scottish planning system. A report of that event including all presentations will be soon available.
What are the next steps? The goal is to launch an operational Global Planning Aid at the 11th WUF in Katowice, Poland. That means that in less than two years from now we need to establish a new foundation with a viable business model as charitable organisation funded by development and philanthropic partners. It means that we start developing online tools and training packages built up and improved in dialogue with training pilots, by mobilising our collective human resources of trained planners and volunteers. During the GPA event in Abu Dhabi, Ms Lowe, the first female mayor of Banjul/Gambia already appealed for GPA to help the local communities plan for themselves, as there is not even a formal planning department to do so. Soon, ISOCARP will call upon members to join a GPA Taskforce and crowdfund a first barefoot planning training pilot in Banjul. Impatient members are most welcome to express interest by mailing to email@example.com.