An online course that teaches urban planners in the Global South, where cities are rapidly densifying and expanding

An online course that teaches urban planners in the Global South, where cities are rapidly densifying and expanding

With this fact in mind, Angel has spent the past year developing accommodate urban growth, A new eight-hour online course on Shiftcities.org helps municipal officials in the Global South prepare for radical changes in their cities.

Launched in October, Accommodating urban growth It offers practical tools for taking a proactive and systematic approach to managing the influx of new urban residents, with the aim of building productive, inclusive and environmentally sustainable cities that are more resilient to climate change in the coming decades.

Most importantly, the course provides city planners with realistic pathways for settlement in the urban periphery by paving the way for “green” expansion. This means connecting peripheral areas to the urban labor market with public transportation, protecting environmental assets from encroachment, and easing regulatory restrictions to allow emerging neighborhoods to be built at higher densities. Angel explains that while densification is one way to mitigate climate change, expansion is often necessary as well.

“Our research has confirmed that in the past two decades, only a quarter of the population added to cities has been absorbed by intensification of their existing footprints, while three-quarters have been absorbed in newly built expansion areas,” he says.

The online course was made possible with a grant from C40 Cities (a global network of mayors), consists of approximately 120 short videos and can be accessed for free through Zoom. Participants can either watch videos or read video texts that are currently available in six languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Mandarin, and Bahasa Indonesia.

“The traditional goal of effective urban planning from time immemorial has been to prepare cities to accommodate growth in their population, commerce and civic life by planning streets and public open spaces on the scale expected on the periphery of urban areas before they are occupied.” Angel explains. “One of the main objectives of this session is to revive this tradition, and to create local capacities in cities of the Global South to accommodate their expected urban growth in an effective manner, at scale, taking climate change into account, and with the aim of developing their cities in an inclusive, sustainable and resilient way.

The cycle first emerges as urban planning becomes a booming international industry, with consulting firms providing municipal authorities and central governments in the Global South with data and tools to help forecast growth.

What’s often missing in this scenario is follow-through, says Angel. “These plans, usually financed with foreign aid, are prepared largely using knowledge and data not available locally, and are then presented as ‘deliverables’ to local authorities, leaving them responsible for implementing them as they see fit after the consultants explain. “It is not Surprisingly, very few of these plans are ever implemented. There is usually no local ownership of plans, and little local understanding of how they look and how they can be changed when circumstances change.

Gabele, in Somaliland, is a small secondary town (2019 population: 31,000) that is rapidly growing and expanding. Like thousands of other cities in the Global South, it has no planning specialists, no planning data, and no resources to contract planning consultants to prepare to accommodate its expected growth. Thus, the course materials helped fill the gaps for the city’s mayor, Mohamed Amin Omar Abdi. After completing it, he said: “Not only do we have a long-term urban expansion plan for our city, we also know how to do it ourselves. This is exactly what we need,” Angell said.

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