Zeynep Gunay, Vice President YPP, contributed to UN-Habitat event on “Network of Urban Labs” moderated by Rogier van den Berg (UN-HABITAT Project Leader of the Urban Planning and Design LAB) with ISOCARP members: Shipra Narang Suri (UN-HABITAT Director of the Planning and Design Branch), Eric Huybrechts (Global Network of Urban Planning Agencies) and Bert Smolders (Shelter Program Director at Arcadis). Other panelists include: Trudy Elliott (The Royal Town Planning Institute Chief Executive), Kate Owens (WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities), Jean-Paul Hitipeuw (Creative Industries/ Network of Labs/ Urban CODES), Simone Rots (INTI – International New Town Institute) and Francisca Rojas (Inter-American Development Bank).
The Urban Planning and Design Lab of UN-Habitat (the UPD-Lab) has been active since 2013 and was officially launched during the 7th World Urban Forum in Medellin. By direct request of the Executive Director, the UPD-Lab was established as an operational work-force to design and implement tangible pilot projects that showcase the sustainable urban planning principles of UN-Habitat. By linking actual design proposals to knowledge on local legal, economic and financial conditions the Lab aims at creating plans with concrete implementation potential. Through the Lab methodology, urban planning becomes a tool for political decision-making. The main strengths of the Lab are its international expertise and an integrated and holistic three-pronged approach: Spatial planning, Legislation and governance, and Economy and finance. These three components are articulated in the projects to ensure implementation. The event focused on highlighting this global initiative for sustainable development from which developed and developing countries are benefiting, raising awareness of the need to connect expertise and sources of funding to support urban sustainable development.
The Global Network of Labs for sustainable development represents a powerful tool to guide public and private stakeholders through the process of creating a vision, developing a strategy and implementing specific projects that contribute to more compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities and territories that foster sustainable urban development and are resilient to climate change. In order to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda, there is a need to scale up and multiply the impact of the Network of the Labs, by bringing new relevant organisations to agree on the methodology and the implementation strategies.