Debate: Urban planning a catalyst for development?

‘Urbanization’ driven both by population growth and high levels of rural-urban migration is now happening at an record scale and pace, constituting what the World Bank describes as "the defining phenomenon of the 21st century".

An estimated 3.5 billion people now live in cities and this growth is overwhelmingly concentrated in the developing world. Of these urban dwellers in the south, roughly 1 billion live in slums usually with little access to water, sanitation or adequate – and legally recognized – shelter.

These statistics have produced diverging visions of the future southern cities as either 'apocalyptic shantytowns' or hotbeds for growth and innovation. And despite the success of reaching MDG 7.D – to "significantly improve the lives of at least 100m slum dwellers" – ahead of schedule, forecasts predict another 2 billion new urban residents over the next 20 years. It is clear that the ability of cities to absorb this growth, in a sustainable and equitable way, while continually planning for the future, presents both distinct challenges and opportunities.

The questions that will be discussed includes:

·         If the way cities are structured has an impact on health, safety, food security, access to basic services and the ability to adapt to climate change, should urban planning be embedded within every development goal?

·         And what would the approach be: redesign from scratch or work to upgrade existing infrastructure and settlements?

·         And finally, do traditional urban planning principles still apply or do we need a whole new logic to respond to the scale of urbanization?

Join our panelists on Thursday, 29 August to explore the answers to these and other questions and debates the potential of urban planning as a catalyst for development.

The live chat is not video or audio-enabled but will take place in the comments section.If you are unable to get online on Thursday, email your views to or follow our tweets using the hashtag #globaldevlive.


This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.