Urban Trialogues, a new publication on inclusive planning for sustainable urban development, was launched on 6 December at the Palais Egmont in Brussels by Daniel Biau, Deputy Director of UN-HABITAT, and Mr. Kris Panneels, Head of the Belgian Multilateral Cooperation.
The publication describes the process and outputs of the LA21 Programme, which focuses on urban environmental planning and management. The LA21 programme was initiated in 1994 by UN-HABITAT, a Belgian Consortium coordinated by K.U. Leuven’s Post Graduate Centre Human Settlements (PGCHS), the Belgian Development Cooperation, and a host of local actors, including the municipalities of Nakuru (Kenya), Essaouira (Morocco), Vinh (Vietnam), and Bayamo (Cuba).
In her foreword, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, reminds us that, as towns and cities grow at unprecedented rates, sustainable urbanization is one of the most pressing challenges facing the global community in the 21st century. Case studies form the core of this book. Documented as independent chapters, each includes an overview of the context, urban history and the competing influences that define the urban space, visions and strategic projects produced during the LA21 process. These are further complemented by a series of cross-cutting essays that develop particular themes relating to the case study cities.
Set in the global debate on sustainable urban development, and covering both theory and practice, the book builds on the insights from the LA21 processes and field activities. It targets a varied audience including decision-makers, urban planners and managers, community developers and scholars.
For instance, the chapter on “Strategic Structure Planning” describes a three-track planning approach advocated by the LA21 programme. The first track provides a vision of the intended development of the city; the second track outlines concrete actions aimed at resolving urban conflicts, and the third focuses on engaging different actors in the co-production, planning and decision-making process.
“Urban Trialogues” looks at the interactions between these three tracks and at the relationship between local government, the private sector, and civil society - the three key players in urban governance. The case studies reveal how the quality of the relationships between these players can stimulate or block sustainable urban development.
Throughout the book, the term ‘localising’ stresses the importance of the ‘locus’ — the urban space and civic awareness as a frame and a resource for development. This stance not only provides a new drive for planning and urbanism, but also adds a crucial dimension to the Agenda 21.
In his launch speech, Mr. Armand De Decker, the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation expressed the hope that the publication will encourage more city-to-city cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development.
For more information on the Localising Agenda 21 programme, visit the website: http://www.unhabitat.org/programmes/agenda21/