Smart Sustainable Cities White Paper – Contributions [08]

Ric Stephens

President of ISOCARP

Tim Van Epp

Chair of American Planning Association International Division



World Urban Forum 9, Kuala Lumpur, 7-13 February 2018
Side Event: Good Governance and Good Planning


Sustainable Development Goal 11, presenting the New Urban Agenda, calls for making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Creative public engagement is key to achieving that goal, its benefits including: creation of shared visions, catalyst for action, resolution of complex problems, revitalizing local networks, fostering consensus building, promoting urban design capability, heightening public awareness, and boosting morale. (Source: Many hands make great plans” The Community Planning Event Manual:

There are many creative public engagement techniques. The ones listed below have gained traction and been proven effective in recent years. More information on each approach can be found at the links or other sources provided below.
Traditional Public Hearing, Oregon Transparency: Opening State Government to Everyone:
Community Meeting: We Love Lake Oswego
Mini-Charrette: Ric Stephens, University of Oregon
Scenario Planning Workshop: Fregonese and Associates
Box City: Center for Understanding the Built Environment (CUBE)
Place It Workshop: Dr. Gerardo Sandoval, University of Oregon
Coffee Klatch: City of Damascus Comprehensive Plan Meetings, Oregon or_citizen_review.html
Haiku Meetings & Internet Kitchens: Science Council of Japan, International Symposium, 2001
Online Open House: City of Portland Comprehensive Plan Online Open House
Trolley Meeting: Non-Traditional Meeting Places and Events
Poznan Master Plan: Where’s art in master planning
Public Hearing Simulation: Ric Stephens, University of Oregon

In addition, there are a multitude of tools – digital, communications and otherwise – that can be used to support any public engagement approach or program. An updated spreadsheet is provided in Sustainable Jersey’s Public Information and Engagement Toolbox, at:

New Jersey, USA, Example: South Ironbound Climate Resilience Action Plan
The South Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, is an “Environmental Justice Community”. The Environmental Justice Movement in the US is about communities, regardless of racial, ethnic, or economic composition, that are entitled to equal protection from the consequences of environmental hazards. South Ironbound has historically been an industrial and residential community where factories operate right next to homes. Bound on all four sides by an airport, highways, rail lines, and the Passaic River, it is one of the United States’ most polluted areas. Since South Ironbound is home to both the state’s largest garbage incinerator and one of the country’s most contaminated sites, and has both active and abandoned industrial facilities, close flight paths and active truck routes, the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) has worked to improve the quality of air, water, and green space in the community.

ICC engaged a “Community Planning Assistance Team” (CPAT) of volunteer planners sponsored by the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association to prepare a Climate Resilience Action Plan for South Ironbound. The public consultation approach employed by ICC in support of the resilience plan was informed by ICC’s 47 years of community involvement – ICC understands the complexities of the South Ironbound neighborhood. ICC sought input from residents so the resulting action plan reflects their needs and benefits from their inputs on resiliency strategies. ICC graduated its first class of environmental justice advocates from the Environmental Justice Leadership Institute (EJLI). One of those EJLI graduates was chosen as ICC’s community organizer to develop neighborhood relationships, communicate with local stakeholders, and ensure that the action plan is representative of neighborhood needs.

The community was engaged through meetings that were held in various types of locations – baseball field, public housing complex, social club, and pre-school. Surveys and public engagement activities were also conducted by local residents and EJLI graduates to ensure feedback was gathered in a multitude of ways. Numerous obstacles were encountered throughout the community engagement effort but, if something did not work, they would quickly allocate resources to another approach. Through these outreach methods, ICC successfully engaged over 150 residents, small business owners, and neighborhood stakeholders to uncover community assets and vulnerabilities.

The resulting Climate Resilience Action Plan was organized into several relevant components, including: green infrastructure, brownfield redevelopment crime prevention – urban design, complete streets, community facilities (e.g., microgrid), emergency response planning, and climate change mitigation. Each such component was elaborated along several parameters, including: name of action, type of action (policy, capacity / institutional building, physical), priority (high, medium, low), schedule (short-term, medium-term, long-term), responsible party (ICC, government, community), funding and other resources required (low cost, medium cost, high cost), possible financing sources.

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