A meeting was held in New Delhi 20-21 October 2011 to discuss the preparation of a globally relevant guide on urban planning for mayors and elected local government officials.
“Today New Delhi has overtaken Mumbai as the largest city in India with a population of just over 21 million people”, said Mayor Rajni Abbi to inaugurate the meeting. “Daily, I am confronted with the reality of lopsided planning which ignored the poor living in rapidly growing neighborhoods at the margins of the city. While it led to prosperity and better living conditions for city residents living nearer to the core, outlying neighborhoods were simply ignored. Unfortunately, this has led to growing levels of urban poverty. City leaders have a special role and responsibility in urban planning, and I commend UN-Habitat for taking the initiative for designing this guide.” she said.
Over two days, a group of mayors, city planners and urban academics met to agree on ways in which local governments elected officials can use urban planning as a means of reducing poverty, enhancing local economic developing and making our cities for sustainable and livable. The meeting was organized a month after the mission of UN-Habitat’s Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos undertaken to India during which commitments to increase collaboration between the agency and the Government of India were made.
“The sad reality is that the vast majority of the world’s urban growth is happening in cities of the developing world in which there is little or no planning happening. By not planning for tomorrow, we are condemning ourselves to increasing congestion, deteriorating health conditions and growing slums. Yet we know that with proper planning, urbanization can be a key driver for national economic growth”, said the conference host Dr. Vinay Lall, Director of the Society for Development Studies.
On behalf of UN-Habitat, Laura Petrella noted that despite many positive experiences, urban planning still is little understood as a key tool to enhance the prospects of local development. “Local leaders have a pivotal role to play in negotiating between conflicting interests and advocating for urban policies that deliver better economic and social outcomes for the city.”
Mr. Praddep Kapoor a regional manager for Siemen’s said, “We are pleased to be providing financial support to this initiative. Today with more than half of the world’s population living in cities, leaders need innovative solutions to increasing complex problems we face today. Technology is key, but so too is know-how.”
The “Quick Guide on Urban Planning for Mayors” is being developed as part of a series which will be expanded to target other key groups such as: urban planners, community groups, and the private sector. The series has been designed to support better approaches to urban planning made relevant to the needs of the world’s rapidly growing cities, both today and over the long term. As part of its development, it will be tested in several countries and it is envisaged that it will be prominently used in to raise awareness and serve as a learning resource for city managers and stakeholders. UN-HABITAT’s well known series for Locally Elected Leaders “Key Competencies for Improving Local Government” is currently used in over 80 countries and has been adapted and translated into more than 45 languages.