Since 2006, UN-Habitat and other international agencies identified the urgent need for reformed urban planning systems to address urban challenges in the global south. In particular, there is growing consensus that planners and designers are a key entry point for addressing challenges in the rapidly emerging urban centers and sprawling cities.
In Africa, the inevitable consequences of rapid urbanization decoupled from economic growth are extreme levels of urban poverty, unemployment, pervasive slum conditions and survival supported primarily by the informal sector.
These problems reflect a long history of inequitable power relations, democratic institutional failure and skewed exclusive urban policy and planning processes. Planners trained in traditional methodologies have often been criticized as being part of the problem. Unless urban planning and design are transformed to help create public oversight over land use and refashion inequitable relations, sustainable urban development will remain elusive.
The overall objective of UIP is to create a forum for exploring innovative methodologies for enabling professional planners and designers be more responsive and effective in addressing challenges in contemporary and future African urban settlements.
A key part of the approach is nurturing collaborative planning processes that are participatory, transparent, democratic and receptive to solid research and technical input.
The initiative will be met through three interlinked activities or components: Applied Urban Research and City Lab; Urban Planning and Design Studios; and Urban Policy, Planning Dialogue and Continuous Professional Development courses.