By Accommodation Times News Services
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (Government of India), in partnership with the Department for International Development, UK, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Human Settlement Management Institute and the Support to National Policies for Urban Poverty Reduction project, held an International Conference on Inclusive Urban Planning in New Delhi on 18-19 February, 2013. The objectives of the Conference included:
• Critical evaluation and introspection of the urban planning processes and outcomes;
• Cross-learning from select international experiences on the ways in which inclusion can be incorporated into urban planning;
• Exploring ways in which ‘inclusion’ can be firmly placed within the context of urban planning;.
Participated by over 100 policy-specialists and experts comprising the delegates from the Government of India and constituent States and cities, experts from North America, South America, Africa, Europe and the United Kingdom, South Asia, East Asia, representatives of the World Bank, Department for International Development, UK, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and research and teaching faculty from Indian institutions, the International Conference deliberated on issues of the inclusive nature of urban planning models, reviewed the planning models practiced in the world’s cities, and considered the institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks for urban planning,
concluding therefrom that –
1. Cities in the developing countries have developed largely in an unplanned manner; in many countries, facing urbanization pressures, cities have expanded in a scattered low-density form beyond the administrative boundaries, often in the absence of or with disregard to the building bye-laws;
2. There is a substantial proportion of the urban population whose livelihood spaces and activities, as well as spaces for living and working lies outside of the current formal planning system;
3. While in percentage terms, the proportion of urban poor is decreasing, in absolute numbers the urban poor and the changing nature of urban poverty presents a significant global policy challenge in terms of the pace, pattern, nature of urbanization, and urban poverty including the proliferation of slums, informality and social inequities that have accompanied urbanization;
4. Current development regulations often prescribe high standards and complex procedures of land and infrastructure development which have proven inadequate to meet the needs of the urban poor, while also distorting urban land markets resulting in increasing inequality in cities;
5. Market–driven responses in respect of urban lands do not automatically “self-regulate”; therefore, the notion that an increase in the demand for urban land for the poor will spur its supply, has turned out to be flawed. Such responses, in many situations, are said to have produced uneven development and inequalities;
6. In spite of these challenges, the urban poor have responded by contributing significantly to the urban economy;
7. For sustainable urban growth, the inclusion of the poor in the formal planning process is, therefore, non-negotiable.
and affirming its commitment to the following guiding principles-
1. Urban planning needs to respond dynamically to the changing realities of urbanization, economic processes and demand-driven development challenges;
2. Urban planning, and its related processes, regulations, institutions and funding must recognise the needs of the poor in terms of their spaces for livelihood, living and working as valid and crucial concerns of planning;
3. Urban planning should include women, children, the disabled, the aged and other socially disadvantaged groups to ensure that they have equal access to opportunities, infrastructure and services that urban areas offer. The delegates reject discrimination in urban planning, either in form or process;
4. Regulatory and institutional frameworks for planning require to be reformed such that that these are able to recognize the urban poor as stakeholders and ensure that their inclusion in the process is intrinsic to urban planning.
5. Mainstream and deepen community–driven, participatory approaches, embedded within inclusive city-wide policies and strategies by involving communities, neighbourhoods, and especially the poor in the informal sector in the preparation and implementation of city plans; and
6. Promotion of responsible planning with community involvement focusing on the urban poor will also help conserve and renew natural resources, reduce the urban carbon footprint, and preserve and promote culture and heritage, thus creating healthier and sustainable cities.