You are here: Home Knowledge Base Smart Urban Planning for Megacities Proposals Reimagine the Plan
Symposium 2014

Proposal - Reimagine the Plan

The Challenge

Projections say that by 2050, the world will have undergone the largest and fastest period of urban expansion in human history. The urban population is estimated to double, while at the same time, the ...

Projections say that by 2050, the world will have undergone the largest and fastest period of urban expansion in human history. The urban population is estimated to double, while at the same time, the total urban area is projected to triple. City dwellers in emerging and developing countries, and their resource-intensive lifestyles, are increasingly going to create challenges in supporting many aspects of daily life. More urban dwellers require more resources such as water, land, food, and energy. These increases in demand put pressure on natural ecosystems in supporting cities. In addition, climate change, rising sea levels, or extreme weather events pose additional threats to cities. Infrastructure failure, such as electricity grid disruptions, flooding, diseases, and large-scale pollution, are some of the potential consequences.

To build a better plan we need to redefine it. City leaders must introduce flexibility, extend ownership, encompass regional perspectives, and create local vision across environmental, social and economic aspirations.

The notion of a planned city brings to mind large sterile spaces, high rise apartment blocks separated by immense highways, and the absence of people anywhere but in a shopping mall. A city only a planner could love. How does this happen and how do we make sure that it doesn't happen again?

Planning at its best is not a cookbook but a way of having a discussion. We are all accountable for our cities in which we live and we all will ultimately vote, if not with our voices then with our feet. The discussion is the plan. An American general once said no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. No master plan should either. Cities around the world are opening up their planning processes to public inquiry and debate from Porto Alegre where citizens participate directly in the budgeting process to San Francisco. Paris engages its residents in regional planning including Paris City itself. Turin's plan involved drafting by 9 working groups coordinated by civil society leaders with over 1,000 regional, national, and international citizens and politicians involved

The conversation is about projects but also about principles. And the principles reflect the society's consensus around economic, social and environmental needs. Of these the most basic is that the city is for all of us. Making that dream a reality can mean better access to services through densification. But it also means affordable housing that enlivens the society, a pipeline view of employment to education, and capturing environmental value as a community through recycling. The London plan sets six principles ranging from a city that stimulates to becoming a world leader in the environment. Singapore adopts nine principles which reinforce the importance of resource efficiency in this island city state through compact urban design, optimizing infrastructure, and innovative land use.

The conversation has to go beyond the city's boundaries as they exist today. Geographically, cities need to reflect the real patterns of human life and the city's aspirations for growth. Berlin plans growth jointly with the state of Brandenburg for example. The planners of New York city laid out in 1811 a grid of streets for a city 3 times the size projected. London's sewers were notably oversized. These critical design decisions made growth possible. New cities have the ultimate choice to make as they have to define what their city stands for before anyone arrives. In Saudi Arabia, new cities are hoped to bring fundamental change as they are mandated by the government to redefine the Kingdom's approach to economics, knowledge and energy.

Technology can enable the conversation, eliminating the bureaucracy that is synonymous with much planning. Apps that tell the city when to fill in a pothole, which restaurants are emptying cooking oil in the streets, and when to replace streetlights are all examples of how things that used to be planned can now be built into the life of the city. Technology also helps make better decisions whether its about traffic patterns (helping drivers spot and avoid congestion) or trash management (telling neighbors which households generate the most waste). And new technologies like BIM promise dramatically increase the efficiency of regulatory processes in designing and licensing buildings.

Ultimately the city and its leadership has to be judged on their results. Cities learn from cities and ultimately transparency will be the best guarantee of the integrity of the planning process. Enabling this conversation across cities is a great opportunity for GES to support cities in delivering on the promise of the city.

    Related Proposals

    Proposal
    Symposium 2014

    Reimagine the plan

    To build a better plan we need to redefine it. City leaders must introduce flexibility, extend ownership, encompass regional perspectives, and create local vision across environmental, social and econ ...

    To build a better plan we need to redefine it. City leaders must introduce flexibility, extend ownership, encompass regional perspectives, and create local vision across environmental, social and economic aspirations. The notion of a planned city brings to mind large sterile spaces, high rise apartment blocks separated by immense highways, and the absence of people anywhere but in a shopping mall. A city only a planner could love. How does this happen and how do we make sure that it doesn't happen again? Planning at its best is not a cookbook but a way of having a discussion. We are

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2014

    Smart Urban Planning for Megacities

    As the world becomes more urbanised, our cities need to get smarter to handle the large scale urbanisation which requires new ways to manage complexities, increase efficiency and improve the quality o ...

    As the world becomes more urbanised, our cities need to get smarter to handle the large scale urbanisation which requires new ways to manage complexities, increase efficiency and improve the quality of life of its citizens. Thus, it is necessary to understand the smart city’s contribution in overall to the urban planning and vice versa, to recognise the urban planning offerings to a smart city context. A Smart City may be defined as a developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and the right quality of life by excelling in areas such as economy, mobility, environment and governance. In

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2014

    Sustainable and low carbon development plans for cities

    Clean, efficient, affordable and reliable energy services are indispensable for growth, development and prosperity. Cities require an uninterrupted supply of energy to run their activities. They consu ...

    Clean, efficient, affordable and reliable energy services are indispensable for growth, development and prosperity. Cities require an uninterrupted supply of energy to run their activities. They consume about 75 per cent of global primary energy and emit between 50 and 60 per cent of the world’s total greenhouse gases. When indirect emissions generated by urban inhabitants are included, this figure rises to approximately 80 per cent. Buildings also consume vast amounts of energy at all stages of their existence. Unfortunately, more than 80% of the global energy supply comes from fossil fuels. Emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels are

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2014

    If you want to improve it, measure it.

    Cities are complex adaptive systems, anchored at their core by extremely expensive assets that support citizens.  Successful cities need hospitals, public transport, water, power and a plethora of ot ...

    Cities are complex adaptive systems, anchored at their core by extremely expensive assets that support citizens.  Successful cities need hospitals, public transport, water, power and a plethora of other infrastructure types, but these alone do not make a city.  A city without these assets will not be sustainable and not attract people. The planning of new assets and the maintenance of existing ones creates a significant financial burden on cities. Historically the operation of such assets has been inefficient and this results in additional pressure on strained resources.  For example, London loses almost 25% of it’s fresh water every day

    Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2014

    Sustainable Urban Development for the Future: Example of Phu My Hung New City Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

    Harvard Business School estimated that “by 2050 the number of people living in cities will have nearly doubled, from 3.6 billion in 2011 to more than 6 billion.” What is the right solution? And wh ...

    Harvard Business School estimated that “by 2050 the number of people living in cities will have nearly doubled, from 3.6 billion in 2011 to more than 6 billion.” What is the right solution? And what is a sustainable urban development model for the next “500 or more new cities” around the world? “For centuries, urban settlements evolved slowly.” “But that era is over. Now as billions of people abandon subsistence farming for cities of the information age, the unprecedented scale and pace of urban development make it essential for the private sector to drive the coordinated creation and expansion of

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2014

    Sustainable and low carbon development plans for cities

    Clean, efficient, affordable and reliable energy services are indispensable for growth, development and prosperity.  Cities require an uninterrupted supply of energy to run their activities. They con ...

    Clean, efficient, affordable and reliable energy services are indispensable for growth, development and prosperity.  Cities require an uninterrupted supply of energy to run their activities. They consume about 75 per cent of global primary energy and emit between 50 and 60 per cent of the world’s total greenhouse gases.  When indirect emissions generated by urban inhabitants are included, this figure rises to approximately 80 per cent. Buildings also consume vast amounts of energy at all stages of their existence. Unfortunately, more than 80% of the global energy supply comes from fossil fuels.  Emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels are

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society