The way cities are growing is not sustainable, said the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) on the 8 November, World Town Planning Day. The association calls on governments to fundamentally rethink policies and approaches to managing urbanisation before it is too late.
CAP President, Christine Platt, a planner who works in South Africa said: \"We have ten, maybe fifteen years, to get on to a new track. After that the slum problem, environmental damage and urban insecurity will become so entrenched that they will dominate international relations for the rest of the century.\"
Platt continued: \"Today, 8 November, is World Town Planning Day. There are 65,000 more people living in cities in the Commonwealth than there were yesterday. There will be another 65,000 tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow. Urban growth rates are between 3 and 6% a year in a third of Commonwealth countries. Around 327 million people in the Commonwealth are waking up today in a slum. Their numbers are increasing day by day. Their life expectancy is dramatically less than their compatriots who live in better conditions.\"
Because the poor live in the most hazardous locations they are disproportionately vulnerable to the local impacts of climate change. The problems are particularly acute in small island developing states where the growing threats from rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions are not matched by growing capacity to plan and manage settlements in sustainable and equitable ways.
\"Urban growth is going to be huge in this generation. It will create great wealth that can lift people out of poverty. However, we have to get the cities right, and that needs smart planning\", said Mrs. Platt, who recently visited India to see how they are handling the urban consequences of an economic boom.
\"We need a quantum leap in management capacity: more trained people with better skills, and planning legislation that is fit for purpose in today's world. This is something that CAP is working on, together with our member institutes, our Commonwealth partners and also UN Habitat. Too often, even in rich countries, the approach of governments to urban development is one of curative medicine: clearance, infrastructure after the development has happened, too little too late in environmental protection. Planning means preventative medicine; it's about acting now so that our cities and rural areas are not allowed to degrade to the extent that recovery becomes a prohibitive cost. There are encouraging signs that some governments within the Commonwealth are realising that they need to re-invent planning.\"
Notes for editors
The Commonwealth Association of Planners is made up from the professional planning institutes in over 25 Commonwealth countries. The secretariat is based in Edinburgh at 44 (0)131-226-1959.
For more information please contact:
Christine Platt, tel: 27 31 267 1237 or by email