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Built environment professionals key to sustainable future, RTPI tells United Nations

20 July 2018

Janet Askew MRTPI Local 2030 Panel

Local authorities across the world need to be supported to increase their capacity to manage climate change, migration and rapid urbanisation. At the United Nations in New York, Janet Askew MRTPI, representing the RTPI, said it is crucial that built environment professionals are a part of this.

Ms Askew spoke at the UN event of the annual ‘High Level Political Forum, set up to look at progress on the Sustainable Development Goals across the world. In a session led by an organisation called Local2030, which promotes the role of local government in this, she said:

“Migration, rapid urbanisation and displacement of people are among the many challenges facing cities across the globe. If we are to ensure healthy, prosperous, well-planned places, and manage these, then we must ensure governments are supported by skilled professionals, including planners, in the built environment.”

Ms Askew, speaking in her capacity as the Chair of the RTPI International Committee and the UK Built Environment Advisory Group, told delegates at a UN event there are three areas where built environment professionals – including planners – can help.

The first is capacity building. Drawing on a new Commonwealth Association of Planners survey, she said that the most vulnerable places in the world, such as Bangladesh and Uganda have the fewest built environment professionals. Where policy and codes to guide city development do exist, they are not implemented as effectively as they could be due to a lack of skilled experts. 

To achieve this, education is fundamental. Professional networks across the world, in collaboration with universities, can start to train and educate the next generation of planners, architects and engineers.

Finally, community engagement is vital. All communities, indigenous as well as migrants, need to be involved in the planning and design of their city and its environs.

On behalf of the Commonwealth bodies representing planners, architects and engineers, Ms Askew announced that they had signed up to commit to building capacity, including education strategies, in Commonwealth countries.

Ms Askew was honoured to share a platform with the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, who had qualified as a planner from an RTPI-accredited planning school.

More information about the SDGs and the High Level Political Forum.