Event ReportsPublished on Feb 28, 2020
ORF at the world urban forum
ORF participated in the 10th World Urban Forum organised by UN-Habitat in Abu Dhabi from 8-13 February 2020. During the event, a book on “Regional Planning for Sustainable Land Use in India”, published by ORF and the Global Policy Journal with the support of GIZ in 2019, was launched and presented. A panel of some authors discussed the question how regional planning can help to manage the rural-urban continuum. Besides India, regional planning approaches from South Africa and Germany were discussed. The book builds knowledge of the best ways to utilise land through spatial planning at the regional scale. It comprises twelve chapters written by Indian scholars and professionals, who describe the role regional spatial planning can play in overcoming India’s social, economic, environmental, and infrastructure challenges. The panelists described the following issues and offered recommendations in this regard. Ensure planned development in peri-urban areas: Major changes are taking place at the periphery of Indian megacities. On the one hand is the emergence of planned new townships. The cause for concern is however, the growth of informality, and the subsequent deterioration in quality of life. Preparing metropolitan-level regional plans that take into account the problems of peri-urban areas and creation of strong metropolitan-level agencies are necessary requirements. Undertake planning in backward and vulnerable regions: India’s tribal population numbering 110 million display rich culture, tradition and livelihood practices. However, they lag behind on various development parameters. Moreover, the work of many small producers living in such areas has not been integrated with the city economy. There is an urgent need to prepare regional plans for areas inhabited by vulnerable populations. Regional planning must ensure that an equity approach is followed, and indigenous cultures, traditions and livelihood practices are protected. For one of the regions in Tamil Nadu (comprising of the districts of Coimbatore, Erode, Tiruppur and Nilgiris), a comprehensive land use study has been conducted with the goal of defining broad land use zones. These zones will guide local authorities and line departments in preparing local plans and developing infrastructure. The zones also contribute to the protection of vulnerable areas and therefore help the regions in developing in a manner that there is balance with natural resources. Improve living conditions in small and medium towns: Towns of less than 50,000 residents lack infrastructure and basic services to enhance their growth potential, and there are weak linkages among cities, towns and rural hinterlands. The current “pro-city” paradigm of urban development in a monocentric urban system has not only enhanced regional disparity but also weakened the resilience of the regional economy. There is an urgent need for decentralised urbanisation to offload mounting pressure on existing cities and polycentricity approach in regional planning. Facilitate people’s participation in the planning process: It needs to be understood how and where can citizens be engaged in the regional planning process, and how responsive and alert are we to their needs and aspirations. Citizen-centric planning is about engaging with communities, understanding their needs, and preparing a people’s plan. There is a need to create mechanisms that allow citizens to submit opinions; engage in grass-root consultative process, and create agencies for handling participatory processes. In Odisha, a regional level spatial land use plan for Ganjam district and another local level spatial land use plan for Hinjlicut peri-urban area within the same district were prepared in a participatory manner. The two demonstration plans show their inter-connectivity by aligning community perspectives to the broader district and state visions, thereby linking back to an inclusive land use policy. The recommendations from the event will help in achieving SDG 11, namely "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient". The recommendations on planned development of peri-urban regions, tribal regions, small and medium towns, and citizen-centric planning put forward by speakers at the event are aimed at strengthening rural-urban linkages, and will help in tackling regional inequalities. The panel speakers included Dr. Rumi Aijaz, ORF; Mr. Felix Knopf, GIZ; Ms. Barbara Scholz, GIZ; and Dr. Tathagata Chatterji, Xavier University.
(This report is prepared by Dr. Rumi Aijaz, Senior Fellow, ORF)
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