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Planning, Sustainable Urbanisation and the Commonwealth

09 June 2023

By Cliff Hague

A new book published by Routledge is both a celebration of what CAP has achieved during its first 50 years and a call to urgent action in the face of the local, national and global crises of climate, biodiversity and inequality. “If you want to know why CAP matters for planners everywhere, read this book,” CAP President Eleanor Mohammed said.

Routledge book cover image.jpg

“No sustainable development without sustainable urbanisation. No sustainable urbanisation without effective planning.”

This message from the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) is explained and reinforced in a book that explores the development of planning across the Commonwealth since CAP held its inaugural conference in New Delhi in 1973. In Planning, Sustainable Urbanisation and the Commonwealth: The Commonwealth Association of Planners, Past, Present and Future, authors from five continents provide unique and passionate insights into that journey.

Members of the planning organisations that are CAP institutional members can purchase copies at a 30% discount for a limited time (details below).

As well as providing first-hand accounts of their efforts to get planning recognised by governments, other professions and the public, the book looks ahead. A series of thought-provoking chapters challenge planners to rethink their work and reassert their role in a Commonwealth where there will be over a billion more people in urban areas by 2050.

The book is both a celebration of what CAP has achieved during its first 50 years and a call to urgent action in the face of the local, national and global crises of climate, biodiversity and inequality. It spans the years from colonial planning systems to smart cities, with milestones such as the Brundtland Report, the UN Habitat summits and the New Urban Agenda along the way.

This informative historical sweep is complemented by examples of plans and planning practices, lessons learned and outstanding initiatives. It takes in colonial garden cities, the vibrant streets of megacities like Lagos, and the complexities of land tenure systems in Oceania, the regeneration of old industrial cities, community-based rural development, tsunamis, embedding the values of Indigenous people into planning, and more.

There are chapters on the work of CAP’s Women in Planning Network, young planners (60% of Commonwealth citizens are under 30) and on planning education. The particular challenges of small island states also feature, as there are 25 of them in the Commonwealth.

What emerges is a picture of planning and the Commonwealth at a critical juncture. The immense challenges that today confront the planet need action at local and regional level. Planning is integral to that response, as the New Urban Agenda argues.

The Commonwealth still bears scars of colonialism, but also offers exceptional opportunities for cooperation across places that are at the global epicentre of rapid urban change. Time is short and adaptation will at times be painful, but that latent potential needs to be grasped now by governments and by planners themselves in the way they use their own knowledge and skills.

The book contains endorsements from the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation, and the Executive-Director of UN-Habitat, along with planning academics from Jamaica, India, Bangladesh and South Africa. It has been sponsored by three major consultancies: BECA, Turley and Atkins.

“If you want to know why CAP matters for planners everywhere, read this book,” CAP President Eleanor Mohammed said. “This book tells an important story of how CAP has been able to present a persuasive case for planning across and beyond the Commonwealth. It shows how unpaid volunteers have worked tirelessly and effectively through CAP, and in partnership with others, to get the vital issue of sustainable urbanisation on the agendas of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, the G7 and the UN.”

Planning, Sustainable Urbanisation and the Commonwealth: The Commonwealth Association of Planners, Past, Present and Future, edited by Cliff Hague, Clive Harridge, Bryce Julyan, Ruiz Nik and Ian Tant, can be purchased from www.routledge.com/9781032414027.

Exclusive code for members of CAP member institutes

Quote code PSUC30 at the checkout when you order from Routledge to get your 30% discount. This discount only lasts until 30 November 2023.

Don't belong to a CAP Member? Order before September 30, 2023 to get 20% off using code EFL02.

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