2016 – Laying the foundations for a coordinated and collaborative urban development in the next decade

The year 2016 has been an enthusiastic one for urban and regional planning professionals across the world.

At global level, urbanization is recognized as one of the 21st century’s most transformative trends. Consequently, the draft of the New Urban Agenda was adopted during the Habitat III Conference which took place in Quito in October 2016. With the concentrations of people and economic activities in cities posing massive sustainability challenges, the UN has agreed on three transformative commitments for sustainable urban development, regarding: (1) social inclusion and urban poverty, (2) urban prosperity and opportunities for all, (3) environmentally sustainable and resilient urban development. As far as the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda is concerned, a key role will be played by the urban governance structure, seen as the supportive framework for integrating all sectoral interventions. The planning and management of urban spatial development is the second pillar for the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda, with the United Nations underlining the importance of effective planning for urban development.

The correlation with the urban dimension of the global sustainable development goals agreed in 2015 is evident. The expertise of spatial planning professionals is thus recognized as a core element in achieving sustainability at global level and ensuring the improvement in quality of life for all people.

At EU level, the Pact of Amsterdam (June 2016 – establishing the Urban Agenda of the EU) represents the link with the UN Habitat III initiative. The Urban Agenda of the EU aims to support Urban Areas in achieving the objectives of the Union, focusing on three main pillars: Better regulation, Better funding and Better knowledge. At the core of the EU Urban Agenda lies the principle of integrated approach for sustainable urban development, with twelve priority themes and eleven cross-cutting issues (including effective urban governance, sound and strategic urban planning, Smart Cities innovative actions and opportunities for small and middle-sized cities).

These cross-cutting issues represent areas of interest where we, at Urbasofia, have developed several projects in recent years. The EU approach of fostering EU-wide partnerships for each of the twelve priority themes is similar to our view of spatial planning as a governance-centred activity relying on close cooperation between all stakeholders involved in order to achieve horizontal and vertical coordination between sectoral policies.

It seems that 2017 will be an interesting year for planning professionals. We wish you a Happy New Year filled with innovative ideas and fruitful collaborations!


Dr. Matei Cocheci, Content Manager

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