top of page

CAP Awards and Young Planners Essay Competition

28 July 2020 | By Trudi Elliott CBE, CAP Patron

The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) Awards for Outstanding Planning Achievement in the Commonwealth seek to champion the best examples of planning practice in the Commonwealth. The Awards aim to disseminate outstanding Commonwealth planning practice, highlight applicability across different Commonwealth countries and demonstrate the valuable role that planners and planning have in helping to create resilient and sustainable communities and adequate shelter for all in the Commonwealth.

The Young planners essay competition has sought over many years to show case the innovation and solution focus of planners across the Commonwealth in the early stages of their professional lives.

CAP has seen both as having a valuable role in promoting the ways in which the science and art of planning can benefit the public and improve the well-being of society in the Commonwealth. Clearly this is even more important at this time of global stress as we grapple with the short and long term effects Covid-19, the climate emergency and the aspiration of building an equitable world for all as laid out in UN sustainable development goals.

Whilst the young planners essay competition is long established CAP launched its first wider planning awards in 2018 and received 20 entries from 6 CAP countries.  In 2019 the volume of entries increased to 30 from the following Ghana, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Sierra Leone, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St Lucia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent & the Grenadines. The resulting award winners can be found on the CAP website here

Entries for both have underlined the diversity of challenges and planning solutions and the role planners can play different in settings, policy contexts and resource environments across the commonwealth and the lessons that can be shared.

This year the Young Planners essay competition theme is “Post Covid Building Resilience: The Role of Planners in the Commonwealth.” The Covid-19 global pandemic has put an immense pressure on all facets of human settlements. The impact of the crisis has been compounded by the pre-existing myriad complex challenges in communities. As the governments of the Commonwealth countries ease lockdown measures, this situation presents an opportunity to establish safe, resilient, inclusive and healthy human settlements. It demands meaningful engagement across communities, disciplines and sectors. It is time to consider the vital role of planning in rebuilding our human settlements. Young Planners have a crucial responsibility to contribute to rebuilding the economies and human settlements sustainably without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

For 2020 CAP has decided to have 5 award categories to build on past success and encourage a diversity of entries including from places and planners who might not have thought to enter before. The categories chosen build on the breadth of previous entries and are particularly important to what planners and the communities they serve are grappling with in the Commonwealth: 

  1. Planning for the climate emergency 
    The Climate emergency is a critical global challenge. This award will recognise the role planning and planners can play addressing it within the Commonwealth.


  2. Planning for cities and human settlements/ plan making in the Commonwealth 
    This award will recognise the role that plans, plan making, and the delivery of a plan can make to planning for cities and human settlements within the commonwealth


  3. Planning with limited/scarce resources 
    This is a key issue within the Commonwealth this award will demonstrate that often despite serious resource constraints planning within the commonwealth can make a key difference.


  4. Commonwealth Planning Inclusion /diversity /engagement 
    This award will show case both practical innovative approaches that promote meaningful engagement in planning and encourage inclusive approach that reflects the diverse experience and needs of communities and individuals.


  5. Women in Planning 
    This award will showcase those projects that exemplify the values and objectives put forth in the Commonwealth Women in Planning Manifesto. It will showcase plans, policies, and programs that support the specific needs of self-identified women who are living and working in the built environment.


As an International organisation CAP is used to running both competitions virtually so we are able to run both this year and are launching our call for entries. Details of both together with entry forms and guidance are available on the CAP website (insert link). We have increased the number of judges who come from different Commonwealth institutes and different sectors. We are grateful to them all.

There has never been a more important time to share the best of planning, to celebrate what planners can do and to learn from the innovation, resolve and professionalism we see in the entries. Entering can also help entrants reflect on what they achieved, what they did, what they learnt and what difference a project, activity or collaboration made. The award winners and commendations will be announced at a virtual event supporting World Town Planning Day which is on 8th November 2020.  We look forward to receiving your entry.

bottom of page