International Planning Studies: An Introduction 9811954062, 9789811954061

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Table of contents :
Praise for International Planning Studies
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Boxes
1: Introduction
An International Context for Planning in the ‘Urban Century’
Planning as a Response to Urban Transformations Yesterday and Today
Has Planning’s Time Come Again?
Planning in an International Context
What Are International Planning Studies?
Talking About Different Kinds of Countries, States, and Parts of the World: A Note on Terminology and Evolving Assumptions
The Goals and Structure of the Book
2: The Historical Dimension in International Planning Studies
Why Is History Important to International Planning Studies?
The Historical Transfer of Ideas
Colonialism, Post-colonialism, and Neo-colonialism
The Growth and Spread of Planning in the Industrial and Modern Era
The Circulation of Planning Ideas in More Recent History
Are There Lessons from Past Episodes of Planning for the Contemporary Internationalisation of Planning?
3: Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies
Planning Theory and Knowledge for International Planning Studies
Key Contextual Themes
Globalisation and Planetary Urbanisation
Climate Emergency, Sustainability, and Resilience
Internationalisation v. Internationalism?
Scale, Territoriality, and Spatial Imaginaries
Scales of Planning
Spatial Imaginaries
Law, Administration, and Politics
Planning and the Law
Planning, Politics, and the State
Formality and Informality in Planning
The Influence of International Contexts and Trends on Planning
Drivers of Convergence
Drivers of Constancy or Divergence
4: Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies
Research Design and Research Methods
Is There Anything Distinctive About Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies?
Research Design for International Planning Studies: Some Things to Consider
Will the Study Be Comparative?
How Will the Study Be Conceptualised and Contextualised?
How Can the Study Focus and Questions Be Defined?
Will the Study Design Be Symmetrical?
How Will Language Issues Be Considered in the Study?
How Far Will the Formal, Informal, and Cultural Aspects of Planning Be Considered?
Will Planning Be Considered as a Static or Dynamic and Evolving Phenomenon?
Will the Study Be Sensitive to the Multi-scalar Nature of Planning Issues and Practices?
Is There Value in Using Cases in the Study?
Methods for International Planning Studies
Official Statistics
Documentary Analysis
Data from People: Interviews and Questionnaires
Observation and Ethnography
Triangulation and Mixed Methods
Research Ethics for International Planning Studies
5: Characterising Planning Systems
Planning Systems
Characterising Planning Systems
Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems
The Administrative and Legal Context
The Scope of Planning and the Planning System
The Balance of Competences and Power Between Central and Local Government
The Extent and Type of Planning at National, Regional, and Local Levels
Stakeholders in the Planning System
Regulatory, Discretionary, and Hybrid Planning Systems
Capacity of the Planning System and Its Ability to Meet Its Expressed Planning Objectives and Outcomes
Formality and Informality in Planning
6: A Global Agenda for Planning
Introduction: Planning ‘Above and Beyond’ the State (1)
International Planning Doctrines and Goals: An Old Story?
The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning
From Post-war Reconstruction to Development Aid
The Rise of the International Sustainability Agenda
An Evolving Place for Planning in the Sustainability Agenda
Global Environmental Challenges and Planning
Other Global Contexts for Planning
Reflecting on the Global Agenda for Planning and Its Impact
Towards a New Global Planning Doctrine?
With What Impact?
Monitoring and Follow-Up: Collecting Data and/or ‘Shaping Minds’?
7: Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts
Introduction: Planning ‘Above and Beyond’ the State (2)
Cross-Border Planning
What Are Borders and Why Do They Matter to Planning?
Differing Geopolitical and Governance Contexts for Cross-Border Planning
Informal Cross-Border Cooperation in North America
Cross-Border Metropolitan Planning in a Supportive Context: The Lille—Kortrijk–Tournai Eurometropolis
Cross-Border Cooperation on the Island of Ireland: Addressing the Uncertain Impacts of Rebordering
Conservation Across Borders: The Case of the Sengwe-Tshipise Wilderness Corridor
Transnational Regionalism and Planning
A Distinctive Case of Supranationalism and Planning: The European Union
Developing an Urban Agenda in the ASEAN Region
Other Transnational Settings for Planning
China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative
Transnational Development Corridors and Gateways
8: Planning as an International Discipline
An International Context for the Planning Profession
What Is a Profession?
Ethics and Professionalism in an International Context
Reflective International Planning Practice
An International Context for Planning Education
Internationalisation and (or Versus?) Internationalism in Higher Education
Planning Education: Universal or Context Specific?
The ‘One-World’ Model of Planning Education
Decolonising the Planning Curriculum
An International Context for Planning Research
What Is ‘International’ Planning Research?
Planning Research and the International ‘Theory-Practice Gap’: Meeting the Challenge of Relevance
Rethinking Planning in Light of International Contexts and Experiences
9: Conclusion
International Planning Studies?
Why Undertake International Planning Studies?
What Are the Opportunities and Challenges of International Planning Studies?
If Context Is So Important Are There Any Universal or Transferable Lessons That Can Be Derived from International Planning Studies?
Is There a Theory–Practice Gap in International Planning Studies?
The Contemporary Context for International Planning Studies
The Prospects for Planning and International Planning Studies
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International Planning Studies An Introduction

Olivier Sykes David Shaw Brian Webb

Planning, Environment, Cities Series Editors Yvonne Rydin Bartlett School of Planning University College London London, UK Ben Clifford Bartlett School of Planning University College London London, UK

This series is primarily aimed at students and practitioners of planning and such related professions as estate management, housing and architecture as well as those in politics, public and social administration, geography and urban studies. It comprises both general texts and books designed to make a more particular contribution, in both cases characterized by: an international approach; extensive use of case studies; and emphasis on contemporary relevance and the application of theory to advance planning practice. * Andrew Thornley was series co-editor with Yvonne Rydin up to his retirement from the role in January 2017.

Olivier Sykes • David Shaw • Brian Webb

International Planning Studies An Introduction

Olivier Sykes Department of Geography and Planning University of Liverpool Liverpool, UK

David Shaw Department of Geography and Planning University of Liverpool Liverpool, UK

Brian Webb School of Geography and Planning/Ysgol Daearyddiaeth a Chynllunio Cardiff University/Prifysgol Caerdydd Cardiff/Caerdydd, UK

ISSN 2946-9589     ISSN 2946-9597 (electronic) Planning, Environment, Cities ISBN 978-981-19-5406-1    ISBN 978-981-19-5407-8 (eBook) © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. The registered company address is: 152 Beach Road, #21-01/04 Gateway East, Singapore 189721, Singapore


This book introduces international planning studies as one way of gaining knowledge about, and critical insight into, the activity of planning. It explores key guiding ideas and illustrative examples and hopefully equips the reader with some intellectual tools with which to engage in critical and enriching studies of the international dimensions of planning. It discusses the context for planning as an activity which takes place internationally and the different challenges and policy agendas it is called to respond to. It considers the history of planning as an activity with a longstanding international dimension and contemporary themes of enquiry which can frame its investigation from an international perspective. Research design and methodology in international planning studies, some of the specific issues these raise, and the commonly cited pitfalls to try and avoid are discussed. Different ways to think about and characterise planning systems are reviewed with an emphasis on the context-dependency that conditions how planning is organised and operates in different political, cultural, economic, and geographical settings. The emergence of a global agenda for planning under the auspices of the UN and its agencies, other international organisations and agreements, and professional and civil society networks and initiatives, is reviewed. Resulting opportunities and challenges for planning in acting as a positive and influential agent of sustainable, resilient, and inclusive development are reviewed. The influence of transnational and cross-border contexts on planning in different global regions is considered, including the impacts of supranational regional cooperation initiatives where these exist and transnational development visions and corridors promoted by partnerships between states, or the actions of individual states. Emphasis is placed on the widely differing institutional arrangements under which these may evolve and be pursued in different parts of the globe. The nature of planning as an international discipline is considered across its practice, educational, and research domains. A conclusion summarises the main findings of the book and sets them into their contemporary context, reflecting on the prospects for planning and international planning studies. The book covers much ground and hopefully is able to do justice to the themes it addresses. The authors recognise that by global standards they are hardly a particularly diverse or representative bunch! We hope however that we can lay claim to some international experience. One of us is a holder of citizenship of two European




states and has worked on international planning issues for around 20 years, publishing on Europeanisation and internationalisation of planning systems and comparative planning and urban policy. Another has worked on planning in an international context for around 30 years—starting an academic career in Malawi, supervising over 20 PhDs by international planning students, and working on numerous research projects for the UN, the EU, and states outside Europe. Finally, one is a migrant to the UK, holds two passports, Canadian and British, has lived and studied in one of the most diverse cities in the world, and now works and resides in one of the UK’s devolved Celtic nations. He has been involved in policy-focused research for a range of public, private, and non-profit organisations including research on the implications of migration and geographical mobility in European cities. We are aware there is a whole world of planning practice ‘out there’ and that a book such as this can barely scrape the surface of the rich diversity of planning experiences and stories. We have sought to include examples of planning systems and practices from around the globe and it is our hope that feedback from readers of the book will point us towards further examples of these. We work daily in an internationalised university system dedicated to various goals. The book is a product of this with its content reflecting our own teaching and research and the internationalisation of the planning curriculum to meet the needs of more diverse student cohorts. Our knowledge and interest in the international dimensions of planning has been immeasurably enriched by interactions with these learners and future planners from different parts of the globe. Our goal in writing the book is partly to have a text that can support our own teaching. We hope too that it is imbued with a strong internationalist spirit and that others at different stages of their journeys into and through international planning studies will also find it relevant and useful. Liverpool, UK Liverpool, UK  Cardiff, UK 

Olivier Sykes David Shaw Brian Webb

Praise for International Planning Studies “This book masterfully merges current concerns with historical roots in a global context to demonstrate how interdependencies necessitate new international perspectives on planning. This practical, and well-informed book is also perfectly linked to the NUA, the SDGs, and the main organisations and institutions stakeholders. The chapters are seamlessly interconnected to feed the reader's knowledge and know-how: concepts, methods, tools, design, ethics, and systems, are wrapped in a simple, creative, analytical narrative.” —Professor Sahar Attia, Emeritus Professor of Architecture & Urban Design, Department of Architecture, Cairo University, Egypt “This book provides an original and valuable resource for scholars of international planning studies. It provides a deep analysis of the effects and possibilities of the internationalisation of planning thought, method and practice.” —Professor Xavier Desjardins, Sorbonne Université, Paris, France “This comprehensive and accessible book is an excellent introduction to understanding planning from an international perspective. It fills a distinct gap in existing practice-oriented literature by engaging new and continuing students of planning with the key historical, contemporary, and emergent frameworks for studying and working with(in) the contingency of systems and cultures from around the world, whilst reflecting on the broader disciplinary project of global planning.” —Dr. Susan Moore, Associate Professor of Urban Development and Planning, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, United Kingdom “This book is a welcome addition to the academic literature on comparative planning studies, and will provide a useful resource to anyone studying or teaching international planning. It offers an up-to-date discussion of a field of planning practice and research that – in response to global challenges with spatial impacts and increasingly interconnected territories – is becoming ever more important.” —Professor Stefanie Dühr, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and Co-Director of the UniSA AHURI Research Centre, University of South Australia “This vividly crafted book makes a powerful case for the urgent and globally shared need for planning, recognising the filters that national, regional and local specificities bring to, and demand of planning-forward research, theory-building and practice. It deftly demonstrates the value of ‘international planning studies’ at the universal and transversal, and the local and temporal scales, for planning researchers, educators and practitioners from wherever on the globe they are coming, going, or planning to go.” —Professor Mark Oranje, Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Pretoria, South Africa “Long have we needed a book that offers both comparative and thematically-integrated perspectives on urban planning as a key societal activity found internationally. This book fills this need in an accessible and richly-illustrated way and will be a key reference point for future scholarly work on international planning.” —Professor Nicholas A. Phelps, Chair of Urban Planning, Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, Australia

“This book offers an essential introduction to global practice that makes it possible to orient all of our students to the world-wide sources of planning ideas, the variety of contexts in which planners work, and the best responses to rapid urbanization, climate change, growing inequality, and natural resource depletion. This book will motivate students to devote their careers to solving our most vexing global challenges and will point them in valuable directions for doing so.” —Professor Bruce Stiftel, Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA



Introduction������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������   1


The Historical Dimension in International Planning Studies����������������  21


 Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  41


Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies������  85


Characterising Planning Systems������������������������������������������������������������ 113


A Global Agenda for Planning������������������������������������������������������������������ 157


 Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 197


Planning as an International Discipline�������������������������������������������������� 239


Conclusion�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 263

Index�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 273




ASEAN Smart Cities ASEAN Smart Cities Network Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy Belt and Road Initiative Cross-border cooperation Cross Border Regional Planning China Communications Construction Company European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning Cascadia Innovation Corridor Court of Justice of the European Union Civil Society Organisations Eurasian Economic Union European Economic Community European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation European Regional Development Funds European Spatial Development Perspective European Social Fund European Territorial Cooperation European Union Global Agenda for Planning Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Park Gross National Income Global Planning Education Association Network Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission Higher-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development International Council on Monuments and Sites International Ethics Standards Coalition International Fund for Ireland International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning International Society of City and Regional Planners Maputo Development Corridor Memorandum of Understanding





Marine Spatial Planning North American Free Trade Association Non-Governmental Organisation Northern Ireland National Planning Framework (Ireland) New Urban Agenda One Belt One Road Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Outstanding Universal Value Royal Town Planning Institute Special Areas of Conservation Southern African Development Community Sustainable Development Goals Shack/Slum Dwellers International Small and medium-sized enterprises Special Protection Areas Sengwe-Tshipise Wilderness Corridor Territorial Agenda of the European Union Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas United Cities and Local Governments United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation United Nations Human Settlement Programme Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea World Health Organisation World Heritage Site World Urban Forum

List of Figures

Fig. 3.1 The culturised planning model (Knieling & Othengrafen, 2015, p. 2137) Fig. 4.1 The foreign culture model of cross-­national research (Masser, 1986, p. 18) Fig. 5.1 Legal and Administrative Families in Europe (Newman & Thornley, 1996, p. 29) Fig. 5.2 Three Kinds of Spatial Policy/Planning System in China Fig. 5.3 The discretionary to regulatory spectrum Fig. 6.1 The UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2015) Fig. 6.2 The Timeline of UN-HABITAT and Sustainable Development Conferences (1976-2016) Fig. 7.1 Strategic objectives of Borderplex 2020 (Borderplex Alliance, 2015, p. 22) Fig. 7.2 Reconceptualising territorial planning to incorporate land sea interactions (LSI) (Kidd et al., 2020, p. 3) Fig. 7.3 ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy (ASUS)—a framework of sustainable urbanisation centred around 6 areas and 18 sub-areas with planning as an enabler (ASEAN, 2018) Fig. 7.4 ‘One Belt, One Road’ corridors and nodes

72 88 118 124 134 163 163 204 221

224 225


List of Tables

Table 1.1 Different terms for planning in selected European countries (Steinhauer, 2011; based on Williams, 1996, p. 58)��������������������������� 10 Table 3.1 Scales of influence over planning goals and policies������������������������� 51 Table 3.2 Welfare and national economic development models and planning���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 57 Table 3.3 Policy transfer and mobilities������������������������������������������������������������� 63 Table 3.4 The potential categories of the ‘culturised planning model’ (Othengrafen, 2009, p. 93)������������������������������������������������������������������ 71 Table 4.1 Types of case study����������������������������������������������������������������������������� 98 Table 5.1 The three types of spatial planning systems in the UK in the 1990s��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 124 Table 5.2 Commonly held pros and cons of regulatory/discretionary planning systems������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 136 Table 6.1 Scales and spaces of ‘planning above and beyond the state’������������ 159 Table 7.1 Examples of EU competences and activities with significant impact on spatial planning (adapted from Dalhammer et al., 2018, p. 3) ���������������������������������������������������������� 217


List of Boxes

Box 1.1 Box 2.1 Box 2.2 Box 2.3 Box 2.4 Box 2.5 Box 2.6 Box 3.1 Box 3.2 Box 3.3 Box 3.4 Box 4.1 Box 4.2 Box 4.3 Box 4.4 Box 4.5 Box 5.1 Box 5.2 Box 5.3 Box 5.4 Box 5.5 Box 5.6 Box 5.7

A Rapidly Urbanising World (adapted from Graute et al., 2018, p. 3)����������������������������������������������������������������������� 2 Colonial Planning Practices of the British Empire���������������������������� 26 Haussmann’s Paris: Borrowing, Innovation, and the Creation of a New Urban Model����������������������������������������������������������������������� 30 The International Mobility of the Garden City Concept�������������������� 31 The Town Planning Conference, 1910����������������������������������������������� 32 Planning in the Service of State Building, the Case of Abu Dhabi������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 34 Baltimore’s Waterfront Regeneration as Global Inspiration�������������� 35 Sustainable Urbanism and Informality in Cairo, Egypt��������������������� 60 The Amman Master Plan, 2025��������������������������������������������������������� 66 Bus Rapid Transit: From Columbia to South Africa�������������������������� 68 ‘African Urban Fantasies’������������������������������������������������������������������ 69 The Importance of Understanding and Accounting for Context in International Planning Studies: A Good Example of a Bad Comparison!������������������������������������������������������������������������ 89 A Research Design for Comparative Study of Re-urbanisation in Western Europe������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 92 When Is a Local Plan a Plan Local d’urbanisme and When Is It Not?������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 94 The Power of Example: International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning—Towards a Compendium of Inspiring Practices��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 97 Studying Re-urbanisation in Western Europe—Data Challenges���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 100 Key Functions and Elements of Planning Systems�������������������������� 114 Eight Themes of Enquiry to Characterise Planning Systems���������� 117 Planning Reform: The Case of Saudi Arabia����������������������������������� 121 Categorisation of Planning Traditions in Europe (CEC, 1997)������� 125 One State? One Planning System?��������������������������������������������������� 127 Political Systems and Scope for Participation��������������������������������� 131 Form Meaning and Purpose of Citizen Participation����������������������� 132



Box 5.8 Box 5.9 Box 5.10 Box 5.11 Box 5.12 Box 6.1 Box 6.2 Box 6.3 Box 6.4 Box 6.5 Box 6.6 Box 6.7 Box 6.8 Box 6.9 Box 6.10 Box 6.11 Box 7.1 Box 7.2

Box 7.3 Box 7.4 Box 7.5 Box 8.1 Box 8.2 Box 8.3 Box 8.4

List of Boxes

Half of Oklahoma Belongs to Native Americans Rules Supreme Court������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 133 The Emergence and Evolution of Zoning Under Regulatory Planning Systems: The Case of the United States��������������������������� 135 Hong Kong’s Hybrid Planning System�������������������������������������������� 138 Debating the Introduction of Zoning into a Discretionary Planning System: The Case of England������������������������������������������� 140 Informal Planning in Sierra Leone��������������������������������������������������� 146 World Bank Environmental and Social Standards��������������������������� 160 Current and Future Urban Challenges (UN-HABITAT, 2009)�������� 164 SDG 11 Goal 11: Make Cities and Human Settlements Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable��������������������������������������� 165 Extract from the Foreword to the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (UN-HABITAT, 2015a, b)�������� 166 International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning: Principles������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 167 Transformative Commitments for Sustainable Urban Development������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 170 The International Dimensions of Heritage Conservation and Planning������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 174 International Civil Society Organisations: Shack/Slum Dwellers International���������������������������������������������������������������������� 176 The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Healthy Cities Movement���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 177 Views of the NUA’s ‘Planning Model’�������������������������������������������� 180 Universal, or Context-Specific, Urban and Planning Agendas?: Divergent Ideas About the ‘Right to the City’��������������������������������� 182 Cross-Border Cooperation in a Supranational Setting: European Territorial Cooperation���������������������������������������������������� 207 Informal Cooperation on Spatial Planning and Territorial Development in the EU: From the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) to the Territorial Agenda of the EU 2030�������������������������������������������������������������������� 218 Marine Spatial Planning and Transnational Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region������������������������������������������������������������������� 220 Urbanisation Trends in the ASEAN Area (ASEAN, 2018, pp. 3–4)������������������������������������������������������������������ 222 The Maputo Development Corridor: Mixed Views on the Success of a Corridor Development�������������������������������������� 230 International Ethical Principles: An Ethical Framework for the Global Property Market�������������������������������������������������������� 245 An Example of the Internationalisation of Higher Education��������� 248 The ‘Core of Planning Education’ (AESOP Working Group on the Curriculum of Planning Education, 1995)����������������� 248 The Global Planning Education Association Network (GPEAN)��� 252



An International Context for Planning in the ‘Urban Century’ This book is about the study of planning in an international context. Across the globe, different countries have evolved planning systems for regulating the development and use of land, allocating development rights, and addressing the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of development. Since antiquity, the evolution of human settlements and ideas about planning have been characterised by the crossnational exchange, and sometimes imposition, of ideas, models, and approaches. For example, the emergence of modern planning systems in industrialising societies in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was influenced by similar perceptions of the problems of urbanisation in different national settings—particularly between the countries where industrialisation and urbanisation were most advanced and the resultant problems were most prevalent (see Chap. 2). Whilst throughout different periods of colonialism, planning was used as a tool of governance and control by colonial powers. Latterly, globalisation and increasing interconnectedness between global regions and populations, and the rise of global challenges such as climate change, have led to sustained interest in international planning studies—for example, crossnational comparisons of how different political systems and cultures address particular ecological, social, and economic challenges. In the face of the rapid urban growth taking place around the world the twenty-­ first century is frequently characterised as the ‘urban century’, with international debates and reflection on cities and urban development becoming increasingly prominent across a range of political arenas and policy agendas. The rapid nature of global urbanisation is reflected in the fact that in 1976 only 37.9% of the world’s population was urban whereas by 2016 the proportion had risen to 54.5% (Box 1.1). The present century is the first time in history that humans have primarily dwelled in urban communities. Meanwhile urban centres account for 70% of global GDP, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste production respectively, and 60% of global energy consumption (Box 1.1).

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 O. Sykes et al., International Planning Studies, Planning, Environment, Cities,



1 Introduction

Box 1.1  A Rapidly Urbanising World (adapted from Graute et al., 2018, p. 3)

Such figures highlight clearly why whilst cities and urban regions are seen as being key sites of development and economic and social progress—they also face  many challenges surrounding environmental pressures and social equity. In response to this context, in 2015, the UN adopted a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 11 committed the parties to ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’, and coupled with ‘the declaration of the New Urban Agenda (NUA), adopted by nearly 170 countries in the year 2016, set the stage for the global community to take action against the challenges of urbanization’ (UN-HABITAT, 2017,

An International Context for Planning in the ‘Urban Century’


p. 47). Such UN statements, and other documents like the EU Urban Agenda, set out a series of principles and aspirations in relation to managing the opportunities and challenges of cities and urban areas over the coming decades and place a renewed emphasis on planning as a key policy system in managing these. The Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All which accompanies the UN’s New Urban Agenda adopted in 2016 summarises the issues that increased urbanisation raises for the planet and humanity: By 2050, the world’s urban population is expected to nearly double, making urbanization one of the twenty-first century’s most transformative trends. Populations, economic activities, social and cultural interactions, as well as environmental and humanitarian impacts, are increasingly concentrated in cities, and this poses massive sustainability challenges in terms of housing, infrastructure, basic services, food security, health, education, decent jobs, safety and natural resources, among others.

Already, in 2009, UN-Habitat (2009) had identified ‘Current and Future Urban Development Challenges’. These include, for example, demographic issues (e.g. urban growth and shrinkage, intra and international migration); environmental issues (e.g. climate change, resource use, environmental capacity, risk, and resilience); economic challenges (e.g. uneven development, balancing growth, regional policy); socio-spatial issues (e.g. urban polarisation and fragmentation, urban sprawl, urban informality); and, institutional settings (e.g. international agreements, and supranational governance in some global regions). These ‘macro-level’ spatial and institutional challenges (Reimer et al., 2014, pp. 8–9) set the context for systems, policy, and practice in different countries to manage transformative change. These challenges require the use, or re-use, of land, for their management or resolution, and this implies a role for planning as a set of tools and institutional arrangements, largely, but not exclusively, developed by the state to try to shape and manage complex and complicated interactions. Exploring the interaction of these ‘macro-level’ settings and dynamics at scales ‘above and beyond’ the nation state with the specific internal historical, economic, demographic, environmental, spatial, and social structures, and external connections of different countries is a key theme of enquiry in international planning studies. Specifically, the goal is to seek to understand how such interactions can mould and influence the development of particular forms of planning at a range of spatial scales. In approaching such questions, it is important to recognise from the outset that development activity and planning in many settings are characterised by informality, and take place outside formal state, or indeed market-based systems. The informal and unregulated housing developments which grow around many cities around the globe are one example of this. The distinction between formal and informal planning systems, or whether spatial development in particular places is shaped and regulated by the state, or not, should not, however, be seen in binary terms as ‘formal good’, ‘informal bad’, or formal systems as characterising the ‘Global North’ and informal practices as being exclusively present in the ‘Global South’ (See discussion below on terminology used to describe different countries, states and parts of the world). Formality and


1 Introduction

informality in planning often coexist along a continuum of practices, and formal systems of planning can create negative outcomes and conversely informality can produce good planning outcomes. Thus, whilst accounts of planning often focus on state-sponsored or state-endorsed planning activities, in practice spatial outcomes result from a complex interaction of processes, some of which may be shaped by planning practices, but also by other factors. For example, one of the critical issues facing planners today is responding to the climate change emergency, in seeking to both mitigate and adapt to this threat. But it is important to remember that whilst planning and planners contribute to this agenda, much of the required societal change needed to really drive it forward lies beyond the scope of planning.

 lanning as a Response to Urban Transformations Yesterday P and Today The opportunities and challenges associated with the accelerated urbanisation of human settlement in the twenty-first century are in some ways similar to those experienced in certain global regions from the eighteenth century onwards, as industrialisation and the rise of factory production went hand-in-hand with urbanisation and the growth of great industrial cities. In a number of European countries, the population had become primarily urban by the end of the nineteenth century. New urban societies emerged as a corollary of the rise of industrial capitalism, increased consumption, and modernising technologies and political programmes for cities (Harvey, 2003; Briggs, 1963; Hunt, 2005). These processes led to great increases in the aggregate wealth of the nations concerned and the rural to urban shift was associated with advances in opportunities and material standards of living for many populations. But, the rapidly industrialising cities of global regions, such as Europe and North America, also faced many problems. The concentration of new populations into cities with inadequate infrastructure for sanitation, housing, and transport led to a host of social, public health, and governance issues. In time, solutions to many of these problems emerged driven by technological advances and the evolution of modern systems of urban management and governance including the modern town planning systems that emerged from earlier attempts at reform in fields such as public health and housing. During this period, reformers, administrators, and professionals such as architects, engineers, and early modern town planners looked for solutions not only within the confines of the borders of their own countries, but also internationally. As different societies developed systems to regulate urban development and provide adequate infrastructure to support the more effective functioning of urban centres a ‘historical’ moment, or ‘juncture’, was reached in which modern urban planning systems stared to emerge. These were often most developed and comprehensive in the societies most marked by industrialisation and urbanisation. But ideas about planning were also already ‘circulating’ around the world disseminated by the administrations of colonial governments, through trading routes, attempts at emulation of well-known planning ‘models’, and international professional and academic networks.

Planning as a Response to Urban Transformations Yesterday and Today


Today, as at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the world is facing a period of rapid development and urbanisation with all its attendant opportunities and challenges for people, places, and the environment. A notable evolution in the appreciation of the role and impact of cities in environmental, societal, and economic terms since earlier periods, is the recognition that many of the issues that cities face today are reflective and constitutive of (i.e. they contribute to) trends and contexts at higher geographic scales. The environmental and health challenges of the industrial city in the nineteenth century were often conceived of at the urban, and sometimes (as in the case of clean water supply) regional, scale (Ewen, 2016). Today cities have become key sites in societal responses and resilience to wider global challenges such as global climate change, and as different societies seek to respond to such issues, planning is posited as a key instrument of spatial governance and policy. Today, development and urbanisation are also modifying national and transnational spaces and reflecting and driving uneven patterns of development. This is reflected in the emergence of international and national hierarchies of cities and urban regions (Pisonero, 2016; Sassen, 1991) and flows of internal and international migration. Again, whilst such trends are frequently described as accelerating and as becoming more widespread in the contemporary world, notably due to processes such as globalisation and technological change, they have historical antecedents. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, for example, rural-urban migration was a significant trend in many then developing (now developed) countries and resulted in territorially unbalanced development, the depopulation of some rural, and/or peripheral regions, and the problems of unplanned rapid urbanisation. Yet in the contemporary world these issues have been given particular acuity by the scale and intensity of current trends. In a so-called urban century, there are  key questions about  how the effects of rapid urbanisation on cities and urban regions can be managed effectively to maximise the benefits of development whilst minimising the disbenefits, but also, crucially, about how nations and regions with less developed urban systems and rural and/or peripheral territories find their place and role. Even if, as noted above, just over half the people in the world today live in urban areas, cities only cover around 2% of the landmass (UN-HABITAT, 2016). The desertification1 of certain rural regions through depopulation, often as a result of lagging economic development, and uneven patterns of development and spatial opportunity between different places, is a key challenge in many countries and urban regions. Meanwhile in certain developed and developing countries managing urban shrinkage as well as urban growth is a key challenge for policymakers. Planning in the ‘urban century’, it is already clear, will not be just about seeking to manage the growth issues of certain ‘mega cities’, or ‘mega urban regions’, but also about wider territorial development trends and patterns. The development of  In the sense of loss of population, services, and economic activities rather than physical desertification caused by degradation of land. 1


1 Introduction

national urban systems has complex relationships with issues of national and regional development. It is not infrequent, for example, for urbanisation in some key (e.g. capital city) regions to lead to growth across a range of development indicators at an aggregate national level, but for a nation to concurrently face challenges in terms of the underdevelopment of other more peripheral regions, or decline of formerly dynamic  regions. Such issues can arise in both developed and developing countries and raise concerns which planning and urban and regional policies are expected to respond to. Furthermore, even as the world’s population becomes more urbanised, there are significant communities that will remain rural, raising the question of how their needs and aspirations can be planned. The notion of an ‘urban century’ and related academic concepts like ‘planetary urbanisation’ (Lefebvre, 2003; Brenner & Schmid, 2011) thus need to be treated with caution if they are not to lead to oversimplified readings of the trends and dynamics affecting patterns of spatial development in different countries and parts of the globe (Schindler, 2017). What is clear is that as a context-dependent2 activity called upon to respond to the specific issues facing given places, planning is  faced with very different diverse sets of challenges, objectives, and opportunities to influence development trends in different parts of the world.

Has Planning’s Time Come Again? Despite key differences in historical context, and mindful of the trap of ‘presentism’—considering the present historical moment to be particularly significant, and/or reading the past through contemporary values and categories—it is possible to see certain parallels between the present moment and the historical juncture which saw a concern for developing modern planning systems sweep many societies, during the early decades of the twentieth century. In both periods strong voices have called for ‘planned’ solutions to maximise the opportunities and manage the challenges raised by rapid urban development. The calls from politicians, reformers, and planners that promoted Garden Cities or the City Beautiful Movement at the turn of the twentieth century (see Chap. 2) find an echo in contemporary calls for more attention and priority to be given to planning. For example, the ‘Quito Declaration’, which accompanies the New Urban Agenda (NUA), and has been endorsed by most countries in the world, commits its signatories to: Reinvigorating long-term and integrated urban and territorial planning and design in order to optimize the spatial dimension of the urban form and deliver the positive outcomes of urbanization. (Heads of State and Government, Ministers and High Representatives, 2016, p. 6)  A ‘context-dependent’ activity is one which, as the name suggests, is heavily influenced by its context. For planning this can include a range of factors such as the geography, ecology and climate, economic development level, culture, and the legal, political, and institutional systems, in a given country, or region. These issues are explored later in this book. 2

Planning in an International Context


The Action Framework for the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda (UN-Habitat, 2017, p. 9) meanwhile states that: Adequate planning and design processes will shape high quality urban spaces with a sense of place, that will provide equal opportunities for all, protect local cultural heritage and environment, foster social interaction whilst including safe and affordable housing, an appropriate mix of uses, quality green public space, adequate services and sufficient transport infrastructure.

Though such statements are, of course, contingent on being acted upon, there is a sense that after decades in which planning has been criticised, or marginalised in many places, it is again being seen as a useful activity that has a role to play in addressing the development challenges of the twenty-first century. Perhaps this is a rather optimistic reading, but there is clearly a feeling that planning has a constructive contribution to make. And perhaps a hope that, through demonstrating its relevance to the global urban agenda, it can get ‘on the front foot’ again following the challenges it has faced in various national contexts over recent decades. The history of planning is one of cyclical bouts of optimism, and some even argue at times, over-confidence or hubris (Sandercock, 1998) about its potential to make the world a better place. The early years of the twentieth century certainly saw high hopes and big claims surrounding the potential of modern planning. The achievements of planning around the world were indeed great and varied in the century which followed (Hall, 2014), but there were also reversals and disappointments in many places at different times (Jacobs, 1961), for many, often context-­ dependent, reasons. Histories of planning and planning theory have explored such issues, arguably tending to paint a rather dramatic picture of the shifts in planning’s fortunes through time, rather than providing more gradualist and context-rooted perspectives. This has to an extent resulted in a divergence between the academic and practice wings of planning, as researchers have been concerned to produce critical accounts of planning, whilst practitioners have been required to pursue normative problem-solving in imperfect conditions (Hall, 2014). In the present historical context when there are calls for planning to be ‘reinvigorated’ and play a role in making the world a better place in agreements such as the NUA, an awareness of this mixed and sometimes contested history is important when studying planning in an international context.

Planning in an International Context As noted above, the UN and EU, national governments, and different stakeholder networks are becoming increasingly aware of ‘global planning challenges’, in the sense of both planning-relevant issues that have an impact at a global scale (e.g. climate change, poverty, migration, and economic growth etc.) and specific planning issues that occur across different global regions and in different nations (e.g. access to affordable housing, congestion, managing flows of goods, people and


1 Introduction

information, access to services of public value etc.). The fields of planning practice, research, and education are also becoming more internationalised in response to the contemporary contexts outlined above. National, regional, and local governments often look at ‘how things work’ and ‘how they are done’ in different places in seeking solutions to planning challenges in their own contexts, whilst planning consultancies are becoming increasingly international in outlook as they seek out new markets for their services. As higher education has become more globally interconnected, universities and educators seek to foster the development of international knowledge and employability for their ‘home’ students (i.e. those originating in the country where an academic institution is located), and offer a relevant curriculum for international students. The latter issue is particularly challenging in planning where education has traditionally been geared towards producing graduates and professionals conversant with given national, cultural, policy, legal, and political contexts for planning. The context-­ specific nature of planning practice also contrasts with the overwhelming dominance of ‘international’ planning debate by a small number of journals and authors, often located in the nations of the global ‘North West’, or developed nations in other global regions. Several authors have emphasised the dangers of assuming that definitions and planning theories developed in these contexts, and much of what passes for ‘international’ planning research (Allmendinger, 2017; Watson, 2002, 2009; Harrison, 2014; Yiftachel, 2006), are necessarily relevant to planning as practised in highly differentiated global contexts.

What Are International Planning Studies? Informed by the contexts outlined above, this book seeks to introduce the study of planning from an international perspective. As an introduction to international planning studies the focus of the text is on providing a set of tools and understandings that can frame the study of planning in an international context. For example, to gain an understanding of the specific practices and system(s) of planning that have evolved in different nations to regulate the use and development of land, and explore why they have taken the form they have, and why they have encountered success, or failure, in tackling certain issues. The book is not a compendium of the key structures, institutions, and tools of planning systems in different countries around the world. Such factual information is available in a number of places including the excellent and periodically updated International Manual of Planning Practice produced by ISOCARP (Ryser & Franchini, 2015) and various web-based resources (MLIT, n.d.).3 These provide a rich source of material which reflects the dynamic and evolving nature of planning systems. The present book complements such resources and seeks to develop an analytical and reflective capacity when considering planning as an activity that takes place around the globe in different national and transnational settings.


What Are International Planning Studies?


The book addresses international planning studies with the adjective ‘international’ being understood as relating to something ‘affecting or involving two or more nations’; ‘known or renowned in more than one country’, and/or ‘open to all nations; not belonging to a particular country’ (Allen, 2001). The meanings ascribed to related terms such as ‘internationalisation’ and ‘internationalism’ are also important to international planning studies. At the most basic level, what constitutes ‘international’ depends on one’s own position, or ‘starting point’. International planning studies could mean studying planning in a country other than the country where somebody, for example, grew up and/or currently studies. International student mobility and patterns of international migration have also opened up complex and exciting patterns and opportunities for international planning study (see Chap. 8). A student may be studying planning in a country that they do not originate from, either because they have moved there for the purposes of study, or because they had already moved there from their country of origin for some other reason. They might already have developed strong familiarity with the approaches to planning in the country in which they are studying and from that base move on to consider planning in ‘third’, or ‘fourth’, countries, and so on. A common approach in international planning studies is cross-national comparative research which considers aspects of planning in two, or more, countries. Sometimes these may be ‘simple’ studies and comparisons of different countries on some aspect of planning systems, policies, and projects, with the individual ‘nation’ states being the main framework of reference. Other international planning studies may explore, and perhaps compare, planning within different parts of the globe and in different kinds, or groupings, of countries, including how they are responding to global development challenges and agendas promoted by governments and international organisations and their influence over planning (see Chaps. 6 and 7). The language used in the policy and academic debates which address such issues, and to discuss different kinds of countries and parts of the globe, has evolved over the years—notably since the middle years of the last (twentieth) century—and is explored in the following section. This book is an introduction to international planning studies. As Booth memorably remarked, ‘planning, both as a discipline and as an administrative practice, has a curiously chameleon-like quality whose colours depend intimately on the particular social, political, and cultural context in which it is found’ (1986, p. 1). Reflecting this, a vast diversity of terms are used to describe planning in different countries, even those that may be proximately situated in a certain region of the globe, as illustrated in the European context by Table 1.1. It is important to recognise too that there are often subtle, but important, differences in the meaning of terms that can appear analogous when translated literally. The fact that there is no universal international definition of ‘planning’ reflects the importance of context in defining planning practice. There are, however, some ways of describing the activity which might be described as ‘intermediate’ in terms of their universal applicability. These feature prominently within some national planning systems and certain supranational and transnational settings and policy statements where planning is discussed. For example, the term ‘spatial planning’


1 Introduction

Table 1.1  Different terms for planning in selected European countries (Steinhauer, 2011; based on Williams, 1996, p. 58) Country Denmark England France Germany The Netherlands Sweden Spain

Term used for planning Fysisk plankægning Town and country planning Aménagement du territoire Raumordnung Ruimtelijke ordening Fysisk plancring Urbanismo

Literal translation Physical planning Town and country planning Territorial arrangement Spatial order Spatial order Physical planning Urbanism

has frequently been used where diverse planning systems have been studied internationally, notably in Europe (Reimer et  al., 2014). In EU-sponsored studies, for example, it has been used as a ‘neutral and generic term’ which does not ‘equate precisely to any one of the Member State’s systems for managing spatial development’ (CEC, 1997, pp. 23–24). In the EU Compendium of Spatial Planning Systems and Policies, spatial planning was held to refer to: The methods used largely by the public sector to influence the future distribution of activities in space. It is undertaken with the aim of creating a more rational territorial organisation of land uses and the linkages between them, to balance demands for development with the need to protect the environment, and to achieve social and economic objectives. Spatial planning embraces measures to co-ordinate the spatial impacts of other sectoral policies, to achieve a more even distribution of economic development between regions than would otherwise be created by market forces, and to regulate the conversion of land and property uses. (CEC, 1997, p. 24)

For Faludi (2002), spatial planning can be defined as the systematic preparation of spatial policies for a certain territory, where such policies are seen as a coherent whole and where the relationships between different locations have been considered. Whilst for Nadin and Stead (2012, p.  35) it is ‘the ensemble of territorial governance arrangements’ at a variety of spatial scales ‘that seek to shape patterns of spatial development in particular places’. Other ‘intermediate’ terms have also emerged internationally to describe the systems, policies, and practices of planning. For example, recent UN debates and discussions are couched in terms of ‘urban and territorial planning’. The International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning produced by UN-Habitat (2015, p. 2) state that: Urban and territorial planning can be defined as a decision-making process aimed at realizing economic, social, cultural and environmental goals through the development of spatial visions, strategies and plans and the application of a set of policy principles, tools, institutional and participatory mechanisms and regulatory procedures.

Reflecting the issues outlined previously, the present book principally uses the general term ‘planning’ understood in the sense of the CEC (1997) and UN-Habitat (2015) definitions cited earlier. The term is adopted in preference to more

What Are International Planning Studies?


country-­specific, or region-specific, terminology in recognition of the fact that the systems and instruments that perform planning functions are diversely titled and organised in different international  settings. Its use is not intended to imply that systems in different countries are homogenous or static, and where specific reference is made to planning systems and instruments in a given country, the standard convention of using relevant terms in the original language, followed by an English translation where appropriate, is adopted. This approach is favoured to avoid the proliferation of different translations and interpretations in a range of languages, which can lead to confusion and errors in analysis and interpretation. Where reference is made to international institutions, documents, and agreements, exact terms are used—for example, ‘urban and territorial planning’ in the context of the UN, or ‘spatial planning’ in that of the EU/Europe. Whilst the term ‘planning’ has typically been associated primarily with formal systems of planning, and planning practice in the public or private sphere which works within these, it is acknowledged that in many international contexts planning as an activity takes place, but on a more informal basis, less regulated by the state, and/or informed by input from private planning practitioners. This raises issues about the whole definition of what actually constitutes ‘planning’ and how it relates to informal, or ‘insurgent’ (Holston, 1995), forms of urbanism, urban citizenship, and urban development. Regardless of terminological and definitional issues outlined above, the book starts from the premise that activities and systems comparable, if not equivalent to, those which are signified in many countries by terms like ‘planning’ and ‘planning system’, exist across the globe. Planning is therefore conceived here as a dynamic activity whose definition, purposes, and practices are mutable and constantly in evolution within different local, regional, national, and international settings. An awareness of this is particularly important when considering the position of planning as an activity, and profession, in different international contexts. The varied influence and status of planning in different nations—with, for example, diverse ideological and cultural backgrounds, substantive spatial contexts and issues, and levels of development—means that planning evolves and changes at a different pace in different settings. In undertaking international planning studies, it is important to recognise this and realise that considering planning from an international perspective often implies looking not only between places but also across time. Such an awareness can help avoid pitfalls such as comparing the planning issues, systems, and practices in one country today, with those existing in another country in the past. Finally, this book is an introduction to International Planning Studies and seeks to incorporate a practice dimension. Whilst there is much work in related disciplines which deals with development issues and conditions that are of relevance to international planning studies,4 this typically focusses less on the specific practices and  E.g. international development, globalisation, comparative politics, climate change, international economics, comparative politics, international social movements, geopolitics, global resources, regional integration, European and other area studies, political and geographical studies, and urban studies/sociology. 4


1 Introduction

system(s) of planning that have evolved in different parts of the globe. The chapters which follow aim to develop an analytical and reflective capacity in relation to planning as a ‘real world’ activity that takes place in different national settings and foster a critical approach to undertaking international planning studies. The focus is not solely on the descriptive, or the analytical, but on the practical and action-orientated nature of planning. This aims to reflect the distinctive features of research in planning as comprising: • An action orientation; • An explicit normative focus; • A recognition that systematically produced knowledge has value in shaping and evaluating interventions in the practical world; • A substantive interest in place qualities and spatial relations; • A sensitivity to disciplinary and paradigmatic diversity; • A recognition of the political-institutional contexts within which knowledge is produced and used; and, • A sensitivity to the ethical dimensions of knowledge production and use. Silva et al. (2015, p. xxiv)

Some of these attributes may be shared with other disciplines that also pay attention to processes of urbanisation and development in an international context. However, planning knowledge and action are not solely concerned with reporting and reflecting on issues and conditions, but also (consistent with the definitions of planning outlined earlier) with the more normative and action-orientated questions of ‘what might, or should, be done’? Critical research into urban issues and planning’s role in addressing—or where it fails, in exacerbating, these—is essential. However, if it is to play its role, it cannot stop at making generalisations or judgements about issues, like the positive or negative effects of globalisation on cities, but also needs to reflect on how planning can respond to these. As Campbell (2015, p. 31) argues, ‘it takes more than just looking … to make a difference’. The contention of the book is thus that there is both intellectual and practical/professional value in considering the systems, policies, formal and informal practices of implementation, and professional settings, through which land use and spatial development are articulated in different places internationally.

 alking About Different Kinds of Countries, States, and Parts T of the World: A Note on Terminology and Evolving Assumptions As emphasised above, international planning studies involve studying planning in, and often across, different countries. This brings into play a range of different perspectives on the ‘international’ and how different kinds of countries, states, and parts of the globe are referred to and perceived. The language used in the policy and academic debates which address such issues has evolved over the years, notably since the middle years of the last (twentieth) century.

Talking About Different Kinds of Countries, States, and Parts of the World: A Note…


In the decades following the 1940s references emerged to: a ‘First World’ of, largely western, capitalist, and liberal democratic societies aligned with the United States and its allies; a ‘Second World’ of countries belonging to, or under the influence of, Communist and Socialist powers such as the USSR and China; and a ‘Third World’ of non-aligned states largely composed of less industrialised countries, including newly independent former colonies. Though less frequently used, and not as territorially bounded, the term ‘Fourth World’ also emerged to refer to certain ethnic and religious groups, indigenous peoples, and ‘stateless nations’. The latter may have a ‘traditional subsistence’, or nomadic existence, be marginalised from the ‘mainstream’ of global society and modern development processes, and/or be unrecognised, or persecuted, in the states in which they physically reside. Recent UN documents like the New Urban Agenda also emphasise the need to consider the interests of ‘refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons and migrants’ (UN-Habitat, 2017, p. 9). Such populations may be forced to live, sometimes for many years, in official, or informal, settlements, or refugee camps, which due to their extent (e.g. population size, physical scale) and duration of existence may bring their own set of development and planning matters (e.g. provision of housing and other services). Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s there has been ‘a debate regarding using the correct term to describe [the] uneven, post- and neo-colonial patterns of development and power’ (Mukhopadhyay et  al., 2021, p. 8). A specific example of the evolution of terms used to describe different kinds of countries and global regions in planning studies is provided by the journal Third World Planning Review, launched in 1979 and retitled as International Development Planning Review in 2002. This reflects the rise in the use of terms such as ‘developed’, ‘developing’, ‘newly industrialised’, and ‘least-developed countries’. There have also been new concepts which seek to capture evolving global economic geographies and power relations such as the notion of the ‘BRIC’ countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), which regroups large former ‘Second’ and ‘Third’ world states. Meanwhile, statistical tools have been developed, such as the so-called Human Development Index (HDI) produced by the UN Development Programme which considers life expectancy, education, and per capita income, and seeks to rank countries into four tiers of human development—very high; high; medium; and, low. Such tools are often cited in reports and studies, but bring with them risks of oversimplification of complex realities on the ground, and more qualitative dimensions of development like governance and culture. Emerging thinking about sustainability, and unfolding climate and biodiversity crises have also raised important new questions about development trajectories and challenged ‘developmentalist’ assumptions about economic growth, societal wellbeing, and resilience which often underpin such indexes. There have also been concerns that some ways of talking about and classifying different kinds of countries can carry negative, or patronising, connotations. Another evolution in terminology is the emergence of the terms ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’ to refer to different parts of the globe and development conditions in different countries. Global North generally refers to ‘developed countries’, often, though not exclusively located in the global ‘North West’ (Europe and North


1 Introduction

America), whilst Global South refers to the southern and eastern regions of the globe, typically seen as containing ‘developing countries’. As with the notion of the ‘Fourth World’ discussed earlier, however, the terms are not clearly territorially bounded, and arguably function rather as ‘spatial imaginaries’ (see discussion in Chap. 3), which convey a set of assumptions and images about different places. A useful discussion of the notion of the Global South is provided by Mukhopadhyay et al. (2021, p. 9), who note that: In critical circles, ‘Global South’ has almost never been a purely geographical concept; it intersects spatial, historical and political economic dimensions and is often used as a metaphor for these sets of dimensions. The Global South is also used as an analytical category that denotes a particular set of conditions that draw scientific attention. In both instances, there is a conscious attempt therefore to move away from any sense of a linear unidirectional trajectory that might place the Global South in a lesser light in comparison with the Global North.

They go on to note that: In fact, it has been argued that the Global South may well exist within the cities of the geographical Global North and the Global North can also in turn exist within cities of the geographical Global South and that each may not be therefore quite so polarised. (citing Mady & Chettiparamb, 2017)

Examples of such overlapping and contiguity include  instances of informal development (which is prevalent in the Global South) within cities of the Global North, or the major ‘westernised’ real estate development projects that can be found in some quarters of cities in the Global South (e.g. the ‘African Urban Fantasies’ described by Watson, 2014). Such terms also need to be deployed carefully to avoid reductionism which hints at homogeneity across vast swathes of the globe. Again, Mukhopadhyay et al. (2021, p. 9) provide valuable insight on this issue, noting that: Global South is a generic term that nevertheless encompasses diversity through a multitude of specificities. It is a generic term applicable to various continents within the Global South including Africa, Asia, and South America each experiencing various types and forms of urbanisation, attributable to specific geographies, climates, economies, politics and cultures. It is important therefore to bear in mind this diversity within the term ‘Global South’.

Beyond the risks of implying an oversimplified, or ‘sterile’ (Choplin & Ghorra-­ Gobin, 2021 p. 12), dichotomy between the Global North and South, and underplaying the vast diversity which exists in both ‘regions’, another question might be, ‘what about the global west and east?’ The notion of a global ‘North West’ centred around the north Atlantic has been evoked previously in this chapter. There are also those who have sought to draw attention to the cities of the east, for example, those in the post-Communist former ‘Second World’, which, it is argued, have been somewhat neglected (Müller, 2021a). Müller (2021b, p. VIII) thus contends that the ‘binary’ of Global South and North ‘erases’ what he terms the ‘Global Easts – those countries and cities that occupy an interstitial position between North and South’ which ‘have been confined to the footnotes in literature on global urbanism’.

The Goals and Structure of the Book


Finally, it is important to recognise that the nature of planning in different places is not only conditioned by things like the ‘development level’, or global regional context, of a country, region, or city. As explored in later chapters (e.g. Chap. 5), a wide range of other contextual issues such as structures of government, legal and administrative traditions, and different facets of culture, including planning culture, are significant—for example, Phelps (2021) draws attention to the role of different models of welfare and national economic development in conditioning the forms of planning and development which arise in different countries. Thus, whilst we may need to use the kinds of terms and concepts discussed above, when exploring, or evaluating planning, in, and across, different countries and regions of the globe; international planning studies must always be approached with an awareness of context-dependency. Heuristics such as ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries and ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’, and various statistical classifications, can be very useful in international planning studies, but they are in themselves unlikely to be able to tell the full story about planning in any given context.

The Goals and Structure of the Book This chapter has introduced the international context for planning and given initial consideration to how this can shape planning at a range of spatial scales, and the evolution of planning systems, policy, and practice in different places. Informed by this, the chapters which follow aim to provide the contextual and conceptual knowledge and tools to: • Appreciate the historical background to planning in an international context; • Comprehend how and why planning evolved and is practised in the way it is in different places; • Understand how ideas in planning materialise, travel, transform, and merge; • Reflect on the political and institutional dynamics of planning practice and the ways that governmental and legal systems and the spatial scales at which planning is organised and practised influence how planning works; • Be aware of the merits of, but also of some of the issues and potential pitfalls which can arise when, studying planning from an international perspective; • Make informed and valid comparisons between planning issues and responses in different places and understand the issues involved in gauging the potential for appropriate and effective policy transfer; and • Develop an understanding of the international dimensions of the planning profession, planning research, and education. These learning outcomes are addressed through the following series of chapters. This chapter has started to introduce planning as a discipline with an international dimension and context; presented an initial account of the drivers of


1 Introduction

internationalisation in planning today; identified some of the key issues this raises; defined some of the key terms used in the book; and outlined the objectives of the book. Chapter 2 considers the historical legacy in international planning studies examining planning as a discipline with a longstanding international dimension. It emphasises the importance of historical awareness in considering the origins and evolution of planning in different global regions. The international diffusion of planning models and ideas in different historical periods is explored, with attention being paid to the mechanisms of planning knowledge transfer, and the ways in which planning ideas and practices change as they travel between contexts. The influence of external factors on the historical development of planning through different episodes is explored—for example, the role of colonialism and its legacy in the form of planning legislation and ideas imposed, or borrowed, from colonial nations, and the enduring influence of these on planning practice. The chapter ends by reemphasising the importance of historical knowledge to the study of planning from an international perspective. Chapter 3 further explores some key themes and concepts which can help frame international planning studies. The question of whether there is anything conceptually distinctive about international, as opposed to generic planning, studies is considered. The chapter then focusses selectively on themes and ideas which are particularly relevant to contemporary international planning studies. Some of these are, to use Allmendinger’s (2002) terms, ‘indigenous’ to the planning discipline such as the debate on the convergence or divergence of planning approaches internationally. Others, reflect the interdisciplinary nature of planning and the eclectic nature of its conceptual bases, in being more general, contextual, and/or drawn from other disciplines addressing themes like globalisation; sustainability; path dependencies; territorialism; different state types and political legitimacies; and policy transfer and mobilities. Chapter 4 considers research strategies and methods for international planning studies, and some of the challenges which may be encountered in their use. Common research strategies in international planning studies such as comparative and case study research are discussed. The importance of generating valid analysis which accounts for context, culture, and language, when studying planning internationally, is stressed. Chapter 5 explores ways to characterise planning systems defined as ‘the ensemble of territorial governance arrangements’ at a variety of spatial scales ‘that seek to shape patterns of spatial development in particular places’ (Nadin & Stead, 2012, p. 35). Based on previous studies, themes of enquiry are presented which seek to recognise the diversity of planning systems between (and sometimes within) states that aim to manage development, protect, and enhance places, and consider spatial interactions engendered by societal, economic, and public policy claims on space. The themes direct attention to how planning systems can be characterised by: their legal and administrative contexts; the scope of planning and the planning system; the balance of competences between levels of government; the extent and type of planning at national, regional and local levels; the role of different stakeholders in the

The Goals and Structure of the Book


planning system; their ‘regulatory’, ‘discretionary’, or ‘hybrid’, nature; the capacity of a planning system and its effectiveness in meeting its expressed objectives; and the degree of formal and informal practices in planning. The ways that these dimensions influence the type of planning system that evolves, the dynamic nature of planning systems, and the fact planning systems in practice may operate very differently from how they are intended to work in theory, are emphasised. In particular, informality often characterises the development and use of land, operating beyond the formal control or oversight of planning, but nevertheless reflecting a conscious political and economic movement in society, existing alongside formal planning processes. Chapter 6 considers the emergence of a global agenda for planning through the promulgation of goals by international organisations and agreements and the identification of ‘global planning challenges’ (UN-Habitat, 2009; UN-Habitat, 2016). These relate to planning-relevant issues with an impact at a global scale (e.g. climate change, poverty, migration, and economic growth) and planning issues that occur across different global regions and in different nations. Selected international agreements and planning-relevant policies at other scales, and their policy orientations, are reviewed. Key substantive themes and goals which planning is being expected to respond to globally are explored, and the question of whether these perhaps define a form of ‘international planning doctrine’ is considered. The potential distance between planning ideals and models promoted internationally, and the national, regional, and local conditions, and capacity of planning to deliver, in certain parts of the globe, are noted. Chapter 7 considers various forms of transnational, cross-border, and supranational planning policies and strategies, and the context that these provide for planning. It, firstly, considers planning for cross-border regions, nodes, and urban areas. Secondly, the influence of different forms of transnational regionalism on planning, including the effects of regional supranationalism where it exists, is considered. The conclusion reflects on the relevance of transnational scales, institutions, and initiatives to planning. Chapter 8 discusses the growing internationalisation of the planning discipline around three themes. ‘A world of planning practice’ explores the international context for the planning profession including how it is organised and issues such ethical practice in different contexts; ‘A world of planning education’ explores the education and training and international accreditation of ‘world professionals’; and, finally ‘A world of planning scholarship’ considers aspects of planning as an international academic discipline. Issues such as the degree of genuine internationalism in planning scholarship and the appropriation and definitional control of the term ‘international’ by some interests, global regions, and institutions are explored. Finally, Chap. 9 provides a summary of the key themes explored in the text. The main findings and arguments of the book are reviewed and international planning studies are related to their contemporary context. The chapter, and book, conclude by considering the future prospects for planning and international planning studies in light of the various evolving international contexts and agendas discussed in the book. At the end of each subsequent chapter there are also exercises designed to promote reflection on the themes covered in the chapter.


1 Introduction

References Allen, R. E. (2001). The new Penguin English dictionary. London, Penguin. Allmendinger, P. (2002). Planning futures: New directions for planning theory. Routledge. Allmendinger, P. (2017). Planning theory. Macmillan Education UK. Booth, P. A. (1986). Introduction. In I. Masser & R. Williams (Eds.), Learning from other countries. Geo Books. Brenner, N., & Schmid, C. (2011). Planetary urbanisation. In M. Gandy (Ed.), Urban constellations (pp. 10–13). Jovis. Briggs, A. (1963). Victorian cities. Odhams Press. Campbell, H. (2015). It takes more than just looking to make a difference: The challenge for planning research. In E. A. Silva, P. Healey, & N. Harris (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of planning research methods (pp. 24–32). Routledge. Choplin, A., & Ghorra-Gobin, C. (2021). Vers une pensée urbaine globale. Information Géographique, Armand Colin, 25(2), 11–23. Commission of European Community (CEC). (1997). The EU compendium of spatial planning systems and policies (24th ed.). Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Ewen, S. (2016). What is urban history? Polity Press. Faludi, A. (2002). European spatial policy, the Institute. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Graute, U., D’hondt, F., Petrella, L., Bajaj, M., & Oyuela, A. (2018). International guidelines on urban and territorial planning (IG-UTP) handbook. Nairobi. Hall, P. (2014). Cities of tomorrow: An intellectual history of urban planning and Design in the Twentieth Century. John Wiley and Sons Harrison. Harrison, P. (2014). Making planning theory real. Planning Theory, 13(1), 65–81. Harvey, D. (2003). Paris capital of modernity. Routledge. Heads of State and Government, Ministers and High Representatives, 2016. Holston, J. (1995). Spaces of insurgent citizenship. Planning Theory, 13, 35–52. Hunt, T. (2005). Building Jerusalem: The rise and fall of the Victorian City. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Jacobs, J. (1961). The death and life of great American cities. Pelican Books. Lefebvre, H. (2003). The urban revolution. University of Minnesota. Mady, C., & Chettiparamb, A. (2017). Planning in the face of ‘deep divisions’: A view from Beirut, Lebanon. Planning Theory, 16(3), 296–317. Mukhopadhyay, C., Belingardi, C., Papparaldo, G., & Hendawy, M. (Eds.). (2021). Special issue: Planning practices and theories from the Global South. Association of European School of Planning-Young Academic Network. Müller, M. (2021a). A la recherche des Ests: les villes en notes de bas de page. Information Géographique, 85(2), 24–36. Müller, M. (2021b). In search of the global easts: Footnote cities. Information Géographique, 02, 2021, English Abstract, p. viii. Phelps, N. (2021). The Urban planning imagination. Polity Books. Pisonero, R. D. (2016). The world urban system from a multifunctional and multiscalar perspective: A gridded cartogram as a model of spatial representation. Journal of Maps, 12(Sup 1), 498–506. Reimer, M., Panagiotis, G., & Blotevogel, H.  H. (Eds.). (2014). Spatial planning systems and practices in Europe – A comparative perspective on continuity and changes. Routledge and Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung. Ryser, J., & Franchini, T. (2015). International manual of planning practice. ISOCARP. Sandercock, L. (1998). Towards Cosmopolis: Planning for multicultural cities. Wiley & Sons. Sassen, S. (1991). The global city: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton University Press. Schindler, S. (2017). Towards a paradigm of southern urbanism. City, 21(1), 47–64. Silva, E. A., Healey, P., Harris, N., & Van den Broeck, P. (2015). The Routledge Handbook of planning research methods. Routledge.



Steinhauer, C. (2011). International knowledge transfer  – Analysis of planning cultures. In M.  Schrenk, V.  Popovich & P.  Zeile (Eds.), Proceedings of REAL CORP 2011 Conference, Essen (pp.  483–492). Available at: (Accessed on 27/10/2021). UN-Habitat. (2009). Planning sustainable cities; global report on human settlement 2009. Earthscan. UN-Habitat. (2015). The international guidelines on urban and territorial planning. UN-Habitat. UN-Habitat. (2016). World cities report 2016. Urbanization and development: Emerging futures (p. 2016). Pub. United Nations. UN-Habitat. (2017). The action framework for the implementation of the new urban agenda. UN-Habitat. Watson, V. (2002). The usefulness of normative planning theories in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. Planning Theory, 1, 27–52. Watson, V. (2009). Seeing from the south: Refocusing urban planning on the globe’s central urban issues. Urban Studies, 46(11), 2259–2275. Watson, V. (2014). African urban fantasies: Dreams or nightmares? Environment and Urbanization, 26(1), 213–229. Williams, R. H. (1996). European Union spatial policy and planning. Chapman Publishing. Yiftachel, O. (2006). Re-engaging planning theory? Towards south-eastern perspectives. Planning Theory, 5, 211–222.


The Historical Dimension in International Planning Studies

Introduction Given the current attention to the internationalisation of planning, the reader may be forgiven for thinking that it is a relatively new phenomenon. As noted in Chap. 1, however, there is a long history of exchanges between different places and peoples surrounding the activity of planning and the creation of places. This chapter examines planning as a discipline that has always had a significant international dimension that continues to influence it today. The relevance of exploring the historical legacy of planning practice, and how this might be conceptualised, is emphasised. Planning’s historical role and influence is then explored through an exploration of a series of key moments in time. Finally, consideration is given to what lessons might be drawn from past international  episodes of planning, which might inform an understanding of the international dimensions of planning today.

Why Is History Important to International Planning Studies? The Oxford English Dictionary defines history as ‘The study of past events, particularly in human affairs’ and ‘The whole series of past events connected with a particular person or thing’.1 Given the definition of planning in Chap. 1 which sees it as a social activity or practice (Taylor, 1998), it is clear that planning is a subject, or social phenomenon, that might be studied historically. The study of ‘past events’ or indeed ‘the whole series of past events’ connected with planning in an international context has a strong potential to shed light on why planning has evolved as it has, and crucially why it is as it is today in different places. There are thus useful links to be made between an internationally focussed approach to studying planning and insights from disciplines such as urban history where there has been a steady rise in


© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 O. Sykes et al., International Planning Studies, Planning, Environment, Cities,



2  The Historical Dimension in International Planning Studies

historical international comparative research in recent years. Indeed, Ewen (2016, p. 119) notes that ‘Planning historians have had the most fruitful experiences with taking a transnational approach to their studies and there is a rich literature on the history of international exchanges in modern planning’. Despite this, there are some who feel that there has been a certain underplaying of the importance of historical work in the planning discipline in recent times and that ‘planning schools increasingly prefer to teach planning theory rather than planning history’ and most ‘do not train planning historians’ (Hein, 2018, p. 2). This has been noticeable too in scholarship that has addressed international and comparative dimensions of planning. Thus, Stead et al. (2015, p. 2128) note that, although: In recent years, a body of literature has begun to emerge which has examined the issues of planning cultures (and traditions) in relation to planning systems and their evolution. Less has been written on the issue of planning histories and their impact on the nature of planning.

Described as a key gap (Stead et al., 2015) in the literature, this lack of attention to planning histories matters because a historical perspective has much to contribute to planning studies in general and international planning studies in particular. A potential advantage of historical research and awareness when researching planning in an international context is the empirical connection with events and places across the globe, which means that it is open to allowing experiences from different places to inform its reflections and conclusions. One cannot, for example, write a history of a city without engaging with what has actually happened there. This provides a useful corrective to the tendency to develop models, concepts, and theorisations and then to look at the world through a predefined lens without engaging in-depth with the specifics and realities of what happens in different places. Typically, this may involve the crude application of concepts derived in one national or global regional context to try and account for events or phenomena in another. And—as discussed in later chapters—if historically uninformed research is undertaken to inform planning practice, then it may lead to the inappropriate, or ineffective, transfer of certain policy ideas and practices from one place to another. Another useful insight that historical awareness may provide to those undertaking international planning studies is a familiarity with the notion of ‘presentism’. This has two broad senses that are both relevant to planning and its study. The first is that of interpreting past events in terms of current values and ways of understanding the world. The Oxford English Dictionary defines this first meaning of presentism as ‘Uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts’.2 Such a view is sometimes associated with what has been called the ‘Whig’ view of history which assumes that history is a process of constant human progress towards a better present condition achieved through the application of human reason and the development of modern forms of the liberal and democratic state. There are interesting parallels here with the histories of a discipline like planning which has often justified and narrated itself as a valuable tool in improving society, including as a part of wider, international, modernisation, and ‘improvement’ processes (UN-HABITAT, 2009). Yet, when planning has become entangled with such ideas, colonial projects, and attempts to conquer, develop, and capitalise on the assets of different territories and populations,


Why Is History Important to International Planning Studies?


it has at times become part of the disruptive international currents they have generated. A critique of the consequences of these movements for different societies and places around the globe forms a key part of post-colonial studies in general and those relating to planning and development in particular (Beebeejaun, 2021). An awareness of presentism becomes valuable here as it can be all too easy to critique those who have preceded us according to the standards of our own times without remaining critical of our own contemporary stances and values—one might ask, for example, how future generations may consider our contemporary views and (in)action in the face of climate change and biodiversity crises? Presentism’s second sense is related to the first, and refers to the tendency to give too much importance to recent, or current trends and events. It is perhaps a  natural  human trait to assume that events in one’s own times are somehow peculiarly exceptional, extraordinary, and/or significant. Applied to international planning studies, however, this may lead to ‘strong’ claims such as arguments that internationalisation of planning is a ‘new’ phenomenon driven by the forces of globalisation which really only started to impact and reshape the global economy from the latter decades of the twentieth century. Some may seize on this perceived historical ‘moment’ to write excitedly about what they see as ‘new’ or ‘accelerating’ phenomena such as ‘policy mobilities’ to describe international exchanges of policy ideas and models (see Chap. 3). Urban historians, historically informed planning scholars, and practitioners in disciplines such as planning, architecture, and civil engineering will be aware, however, that the urban professions have a longstanding international dimension—for example, as manifested by policy transfer between industrialising cities in the nineteenth century and the diffusion of planning ideas during the era of western colonialism. Attention to history when undertaking international planning studies may therefore help to avoid some of the traps of presentism. In a discipline which, as Taylor (1998, p. 167) reminds us, is ‘about intervening in the world to protect or change it in some way—to make it other than it would otherwise be without planning’, history also often sets the parameters for possible action in the present, as the configurations of institutions and political and planning cultures which have evolved over time in a given setting play a role in shaping the context in which planning operates. For Stead et  al. (2015, p. 2128), ‘The question of path dependence is key here: in other words, whether and how events and decisions in the past have shaped the system of planning and patterns of spatial development that can be observed today’. Recognising this, concepts which explore the influence of past events and trajectories, such as context and path dependencies and planning cultures, are discussed further in Chaps. 3, 4, and 5. Historical study of planning in an international context can thus shed light on the varied ways in which planning concepts have been transferred, adopted in, and adapted to, different contexts, some of the opportunities and dangers that are inherent to such processes, and how they may influence the possibilities for planning in the present and future. Informed by the themes introduced above, the remainder of this chapter considers the mechanisms of the historical transfer of planning ideas and three historical episodes of international diffusion and exchange in planning—the colonial period and its legacies, the era of industrialisation, urbanisation, and modernisation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the period since the mid-twentieth century.


2  The Historical Dimension in International Planning Studies

The chapter concludes by reflecting on what might be learned from such past episodes of planning which may be of relevance in exploring the international dimensions of planning in the present era.

The Historical Transfer of Ideas In seeking to understand the fundamental origins of a particular idea prior to its transfer and incorporation into a different planning context, a number of questions might be asked, such as where did the idea come from?; why was it developed there?; who promoted it?; and which specific circumstances might explain its success or failure? These questions allow not only a critical examination of the original context of the idea, but enable the development of an understanding about what might happen to that idea should it be transferred somewhere else (Healey & Upton, 2010). Three broad mechanisms through which such a transfer of planning knowledge might occur have been identified by Lieto (2013): • Diffusion, which relates to the adoption of a particular policy, approach, or system from somewhere else. Diffusion tends to focus on the circumstances of the transfer, how it came to be moved from one place to another, rather than on the actual details of the policy, approach, or system itself. • Convergence explores how large-scale, institutional, or structural issues, such as globalisation, influence the transfer of knowledge. Here the emphasis is on the extent to which different cities, regions, or countries align themselves or aim to become more similar to each other, often due to external drivers such as global competitiveness, or environmental sustainability. • Learning, which is expressed as the voluntary exchange of information from one group to another such as from best practice in a particular city on a study visit for instance. However, such learning in and of itself may not result in the transfer of planning knowledge to a particular place, but rather creates the opportunity for that knowledge to be applied in practice. In travelling from origin to destination, ideas will become mutated and adapted to the local social, cultural, and institutional landscape, often in different ways and through the actions of  a range of actors. Some actors, such as political leaders, might impose the idea from the top down to fit their particular needs, city planners might borrow just one aspect of a bigger idea and insert it into a policy, while others such as community leaders might resist the idea and, in the process, change it. Throughout history, planning ideas have travelled around the globe in this way, being forced on colonised populations, transformed into ‘best practice’ in a city plan, or through being fought against and developed into something entirely new. The manner in which international ‘knowledge exchange’ about planning practice occurs is thus variable. Ward (1999) has identified a range of what he calls ‘inherent differential episodes’ in order to help explain the complex ways in which planning practices travel, are adapted to different contexts, and result in historical institutional legacies. He breaks the episodes into three main categories:

Colonialism, Post-colonialism, and Neo-colonialism


• ‘Imposed’ approaches which resulted from the occupation or colonization of particular places against the will of the indigenous peoples. Ward is quick to note, however, that all episodes are context dependent and can exist in various forms, from the authoritative imposition of a structured planning system during occupation, or colonization, to a more negotiated imposition of planning practice through conditionality of foreign aid, to the maintenance or existence of a particular system, or set of planning goals, within an independent state. • ‘Borrowed’ practices are associated with a less authoritarian approach and selective borrowing of planning concepts and ideas from foreign nations, either directly without considerable modification (undiluted), or changed and merged with other foreign, or domestic, planning ideas to suit the particular context as needed (selective). • ‘Synthetic’ episodes whereby foreign planning ideas are adapted and merged with domestic concepts thereby resulting in the translation into entirely new planning innovations that have no direct origin. Ward argues that historically the type of episode was broadly defined based on the power relationship between the country of origin and the destination country. He goes on to note that these episodes have a variable temporal dimension to them, with some being quite short and others being longer. They are also not mutually exclusive and multiple different types of transfer can be occurring at the same time. Reflecting on the international diffusion of modern planning, UN-HABITAT (2009, p. x) identifies a number of mechanisms that drove the global spread of modern planning from the nineteenth into the twentieth centuries: • • • •

Colonial Governments Educational and Scientific Research Institutions Professional Associations and Journals International Development Agencies and Consultancies

The following sub-sections consider the international history of planning in three periods—the colonial, industrial, and the period since the mid-twentieth century— in light of the themes and concepts outlined above.

Colonialism, Post-colonialism, and Neo-colonialism Planning systems are shaped both by local contexts and priorities and by external factors. One of the latter shaping planning systems in many parts of the globe is the legacy of a colonial past. Though views differ, the era of modern colonialism is often seen as having begun in the fifteenth century. In colonised territories formal planning rules and regulations were often introduced to ensure the efficient and effective exploitation of local economic resources, to create order and segregate communities often justified on the basis of preventing, or limiting, the spread of disease (Yeboah & Shaw, 2013; Home, 2013). For instance, from the sixteenth


2  The Historical Dimension in International Planning Studies

century the ‘Laws of the Indies’ were enacted as part of the Spanish colonisation of South America and included rules governing the layout of new settlements. The laws defined key aspects of how new towns and settlements should be planned. They included elements like the laying out of plazas (squares), a rectilinear grid of streets, and the aspect of the settlement. The legacy of this transfer of a planning model from one context to another is still evident today. Many settlements in the Americas, including in the present United States, were planned according to such ideas and particularly in their central areas, or historic centres, such a pattern of street layouts and public spaces is still preserved. Colonial planning systems became institutionalised within the governance of the colony as a technique of spatial control and ordering, and following freedom from colonial rule, their features often remained ingrained in the legislative framework of the newly independent nations. Colonialism continued to be a key driver of planning ideas travelling across the world in later centuries, being largely forced on to indigenous areas, albeit in different ways depending on the needs of those imposing the ideas (see Box 2.1 Colonial Planning Practices of the British Empire). At the most rigid level, planning ideas and systems were imposed on locations nearly unaltered, with no consideration of the local context. The lack of professional planners in many indigenous communities meant that entire systems were simply transplanted and then run by colonial administrators. Having said this, even when imposed, planning systems were often heavily altered based on the geographic and social conditions on the ground (Beeckmans, 2013). The plans of colonial administrators were not always seamlessly imposed as indigenous populations often pushed back by contesting initiatives in sometimes subtle ways, such as following the letter of the law, but building structures in traditional architectural styles, petitioning for changes, or even through more organised Box 2.1  Colonial Planning Practices of the British Empire

The British Empire instituted various forms of town planning in its colonies as represented in Home’s (1990, p. 25) general typology of British colonial town planning activity: Colonial status Town planning activity Direct rule Road improvements (usually ports) Slum clearance Housing Protectorates Layouts, administrative under indirect headquarters, railway/ rule mining town Precolonial Conservation urban societies Garden suburbs Parks White settler Company towns Garden cities

Usual mechanism Examples Improvement Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, board of trust Lagos, Singapore Consultants, Branch of Lands and Survey Local/Native Authority, Consultants Private sector

Port Harcourt, Enugu Jos, Kaduna, Lusaka, New Delhi Parts of India, Egypt, Palestine Vanderbijl town, Pinelands

Colonialism, Post-colonialism, and Neo-colonialism


protests and resistance such as refusing to move into newly segregated districts of cities. Where indigenous professional planners were present, however, imposition of new colonial ideas was often negotiated and altered based on their more localised knowledge and input. This adaptation of planning ideals to contexts was arguably more effective and closer to Ward’s (1999) ‘episode’ of selective forms of borrowing and innovation which are contextualised to the destination. Colonial governments continued to be a force for the international transfer of planning ideas well into the twentieth century—for example, in the last decades of the so-called British Raj in India the leading British architect of the time, Edwin Lutyens, was commissioned to prepare a master plan for New Delhi (1914). Beebeejaun (2021, p. 2) notes how ‘the nascent British planning system was central to the spatial and territorial concerns of Empire with its diffusion into colonial territories supporting the consolidation of the profession’s reputation and enabling it to be practiced experimentally in colonial and postcolonial settings’. The latter part of the twentieth century saw decolonialisation of many regions of the globe. Post-colonialism as an empirical and political phenomenon has consequently become a major theme of study in a number of disciplines, including planning (Allmendinger, 2017)—though there are those who argue that it has not engaged as fully with this legacy and its implications as other disciplines. In the UK context, for example, Beebeejaun (2021, p. 1) comments that ‘Conventional histories of the British planning system situate it separately from the wider field of Empire within which it also operated’ and that ‘The distancing of empire from the history of the discipline helps to strategically locate the British profession as a model for progressive planning ideals’. In the post-colonial era, many countries maintained the previous legislative and institutional settings, which, where they lacked the necessary power, authority, finances and human capacity, were unable to deliver effective planning systems. Plans were prepared, which were seen as blueprints but were never implemented and very quickly became obsolete, formal state development regulation was almost non-existent, and policy and practice failed to keep pace with the unprecedented changes affecting many countries, most notably rapid rural to urban migration and the resulting urbanisation. Informal planning practices—where traditional authorities granted development rights and some degree of security, and elsewhere expropriation of land usually from the state to meet development pressures—were widespread. Instruments and institutions did not evolve to take account of contemporary planning issues, and the practices of planning were not updated. Meanwhile, planning education in  some parts of the globe  such as Africa is sometimes still based on curricula inherited from colonial days (Diaw et al., 2002). Recognising the increasing challenges of poverty, social and health inequalities, and the enormous pressures that very rapid urbanisation was placing on local governments’ ability to organise and deliver basic urban public management services— including the planning functions left over from many of the former colonial powers—international organisations such as the World Bank, UN-Habitat, and the EU’s International Cooperation and Development Programme have provided budget support, grants, and increasingly contracts to initiate change. Often these funding packages have been accompanied by conditions for public sector reform, and


2  The Historical Dimension in International Planning Studies

some observers have suggested that this approach to development, dominated by Western Europe and North America, is in essence a form of post-colonial dependency. More recently, China has sought to influence and shape development in countries of the Global South, through various forms of investment, support, and initiatives such as ‘One Road One Belt’ (OBOR) which aims to reimagine territorial connectivity through the recreation of the notion of the Silk Road (see Chap. 7). Some commentators see these activities as having characteristics of neo-­colonialism, promoting financial dependency underwritten by the transfer of resources and assets (e.g. infrastructure such as ports) to foreign control and ownership. Running through all the examples above is the influence of powerful nation states, or global agencies, over the territorial development trajectories and planning practices of particular places. Whilst, these variants of ‘colonialism’ reflect an external dependency or influence, Yiftachel has also emphasised how in some countries colonialism (with a small ‘c’) can refer: to a multi-faceted and broader understanding of regulating power to facilitate the process of seizure and appropriation, under which the urban political economy is based on several key principles: (a) expansion of dominant interests (spatially or otherwise) (b) exploitation of marginalized groups; (c) essentialization of identities; based on institutionalization of ‘different and unequal’; and (d) hierarchical and coerced segregation.

For example, Paz-Fuchs and Cohen-Lifshiz (2010) have suggested that formal planning processes within the state of Israel have  had the effect of  restricting the Palestinian population’s access to land and to development in the West Bank, and through the building of new settlements for new residents of Israel of promoting a policy of separation. This might be perceived as a form of internal colonialism, especially given that the disputed West Bank has now been under Israeli control for 50 years and ‘planning measures are serving a very clear purpose in this region’ (Paz-Fuchs & Cohen-Lifshiz, 2010, p. 597).

 he Growth and Spread of Planning in the Industrial T and Modern Era As discussed in Chap. 1, the rise of industrial capitalism from the mid-eighteenth century onwards led to a transformation of societies. And notably in those nations in which industrialisation and technological advances were most rapid and widespread, new forms of urban society began to emerge (Harvey, 2003; Briggs, 1963). It was here that the benefits and challenges of urbanisation were most pronounced, but as these states, and their great cities and urban systems, were also increasingly enmeshed in international networks, the ripple effects of such transformations were felt around the globe through different processes of transfer and borrowing and imposition. Increased consumption, modernising technologies, and political programmes for cities were often coupled with great advances in opportunities and material standards of living for many populations. But, the rapidly industrialising cities in regions like Europe and North America also faced many problems such as the concentration of new populations into

The Growth and Spread of Planning in the Industrial and Modern Era


urban areas with inadequate infrastructure leading to a host of social, public health, and governance issues. It was in this context that legislation to address issues such as public health and inadequate housing emerged and, more gradually, ‘modern’ planning systems came into being in many countries. This  was accompanied by international exchanges of ideas and practices in planning which typically differed from the processes of imposition discussed in the previous section. As Healey (2010, p. 1) notes: Wherever and whenever elites and activists have been concerned about the qualities of their cities and territories, they have looked about for ideas to help inspire their development programmes. And people have always travelled from place to place, offering suggestions about ways of solving problems or improving conditions in one place based on their experiences in other places.

This was the case, with the emergence of modern planning systems in industrialising societies in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Such evolutions were influenced by similar perceptions of the problems of rapid and insufficiently regulated urbanisation in different national settings. This generated challenges such as overcrowding and very high urban densities which led to the congestion of cities exacerbated by a frequent lack of basic infrastructure adequate to meet the needs of a growing population (e.g. clean running water, sewerage networks, effective transportation networks). Although poverty had been an issue in rural societies and many migrants moved to cities to seek opportunities for employment and a better standard of living, urbanisation led to much larger and more visible concentrations of poverty in expanding urban areas. Coupled with poor housing conditions and the lack of infrastructure noted above, this led to significant public health issues manifested in phenomena such as high death rates and low life expectancies. Such issues were of concern to public authorities who sought solutions inspired by a desire to see social improvements and a fear that such harsh social conditions may foment dissatisfaction and dissent that might cause unrest, or even revolution. These social and related issues were common to many emerging capitalist societies. In response different industrialising and urbanising nations developed tools to address the rapid growth of cities and the associated problems such as: new public health legislation, reforms of local government (to account for population growth and shifts), new infrastructure projects (e.g. sewerage and transport systems), housing for the working classes and laws to regulate the layout of housing, and increasingly the development of modern urban plans and planning systems. Similar concerns around rapid urbanisation and the search for solutions led to an international flow of ideas about urban solutions planning, particularly between states like Germany, Britain, the United States, and France where industrialisation and urbanisation were most advanced and the resultant problems were most prevalent (Box 2.2). As Ewen (2016, p. 199) notes, ‘The decades around the turn of the twentieth century … coincided with the urbanization process first attracting the systematic interest of municipalities, scholars and practitioners in the embryonic planning movement’. This period illustrates how historically planning ideas have also been transferred through mechanisms other than colonial imposition or negotiation. As Ward (1999) notes, ideas have been willingly borrowed from other locations with the borrowers being able to frame the key objectives and goals of the process. Arguably these


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Box 2.2  Haussmann’s Paris: Borrowing, Innovation, and the Creation of a New Urban Model

In the mid-nineteenth century both Paris and London were rapidly growing cities with all the attendant opportunities and challenges that this posed in terms of catering for the needs of a growing population. Both cities were major centres not only of their respective states, but also wider Empires. The Second French Empire was founded in 1852 following a coup d’état engineered by LouisNapoléon Bonaparte, from his position as President of the short-lived Second French Republic (1848–1851). Over the previous decades Louis-Napoléon had had a somewhat nomadic and periodically difficult existence, imprisoned in France, or forced to live in exile in England. However, these experiences played a role in the subsequent planning history of Paris, and by emulation, that of many cities around the world. Louis-Napoléon had experienced, at first hand, English industrialisation and urbanisation and this was to have a profound influence on his thinking about how to respond to industrial and urban conditions in Paris. He had, for example, lived in London and reputedly for a season in Southport, Lancashire, where he was able to see recent and contemporary English approaches to planning. Napoleon III (as he was styled after 1852) appreciated English-style parks and gardens, with their naturalistic appearance (early examples being Birkenhead Park, and Princes Park in Liverpool), and had his own ideas about town planning. Tradition has it that at their first meeting in 1853 he showed the newly appointed préfet de la Seine Georges-Eugène Haussmann a colour-coded map detailing his ambitions for new and expanded routes in Paris. Over the next 17 years Haussmann would work to transform Paris using the term ‘regularisation’ to describe ‘a form of critical planning whose explicit purpose is to regularize the disordered city, to disclose its new order by means of a pure, schematic layout which will disentangle it from its dross, the sediment of the past and present failures’ (Choay, 1969, p. 15). Haussmann divided opinion among his contemporaries and remains a controversial figure to this day, portrayed as the man who killed ‘Old Paris’ or the one who created the ‘New Paris’ (Sykes, 2013). The destruction of most of the medieval fabric of the Ile de la Cité was perhaps seen as the greatest loss by those marked by an emerging preservationist sentiment. Yet in terms of the concerns of this book, the episode of ‘Haussmannisation’ is interesting as it shows how ideas about urban development and planning can exert influence from one context to another through processes of borrowing and innovation. Napoleon III was certainly influenced by what he saw living in England, but the Paris that he and Haussmann envisioned and planned into being was shaped in its planning process and form by the context of that city. Interestingly too, the processes of borrowing and innovation did not stop there as the ‘new’ Paris now became a model in its turn—the ‘capital of modernity’ (Harvey, 2006), which others then looked to for planning ideas. For example, the Prost plan of 1936 for Istanbul ‘was inspired by Haussmann’ and ‘became the defining planning document for the city’ and ‘the base plan for those that followed with some of the large avenues introduced during the 1950s’ (Steele & Shafik, 2010 cited in Jones, 2016, p. 157).

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selective forms of borrowing are more effective than more imposed forms of international circulation of planning ideas as they are more likely to be appropriately contextualised and adapted to their destination. Examples might include the mobility of the Garden City concept which was rapidly diffused and taken up internationally almost contemporaneously with its emergence in England (Box 2.3).

Box 2.3  The International Mobility of the Garden City Concept

Ebenezer Howard’s concept of the Garden City (1898–1902) soon atttracted international attention and his Garden Cities of To-morrow was translated into a number of other languages. Rutherford (2014, p. 47) notes how ‘Abroad, garden city principles where taken up enthusiastically, both in the English-­speaking world, including the United States, and beyond, particularly in mainland Europe and South America’ and how as a result ‘These principles became the main town planning export of Britain in the twentieth century’. Borrowed and taken up voluntarily in some contexts, garden city principles were also diffused through the creation of plans for new state capitals in the British Empire such as Canberra (Australia) and New Delhi (India) (Rutherford, 2014, p.  47). As Rutherford (2014, p. 49) also notes, smaller-­scale projects for garden suburbs and villages became ‘far more prevalent than the garden cities because they were easier to establish at a smaller scale’, even if ‘in their purpose they were the antithesis of Howard’s garden city ideal’. And again, there were many international examples including in Australia, South Africa and Canada. The concept of the Garden City was also influential in other countries including France. Around Paris the socialist reformer Henri Sellier was instrumental in the construction of a large number of Garden Cities (cité-jardins)  in the suburbs of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. The French application of the concept also provides a good example of how planning ideas travel and are ‘selectively borrowed’ and the modifying influence of context. Many of the Parisian Garden Cities thus adopted a more mixed typology of housing styles, often including large areas of blocks of low-rise flats as well as the detached, semi-detached, and terraced housing units commonly found in the English garden cities and indeed in many interwar municipal housing estates that were inspired by their example. What is interesting too is the similar, but contextually adapted, perceptions of the problems that the garden city solution would help to solve and of the future it would offer. Thus, an advertisement for Welwyn Garden City founded in 1920 which contrasted a ‘yesterday’ of ‘Living and Working in the Smoke’, with a ‘today’ of ‘Living in the Suburbs—Working in the Smoke’, and a ‘tomorrow’ of ‘Living and working in the Sun at Welwyn Garden City’ has a French equivalent of 1922 in an advert for the Blanc-Mesnil Garden City outside Paris. In the latter a ‘yesterday’ of an individual living in Paris often falling ill due to local environmental conditions and thus needing to spend all their money at the pharmacy is contrasted with a ‘today’ where the individual in question lives at Blanc-Mesnil, is never ill, and uses their money instead to buy a house in the new garden city.


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Box 2.4  The Town Planning Conference, 1910

In 1910 a major conference was organised on the then-nascent field of modern town planning. This was organised by the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) which had been founded in the nineteenth century (1834). The Town Planning Institute was only to form in 1914 and many of the leading lights of the planning profession were ‘architect-planners’ at this time with training and experience in both fields. The ‘First Town Planning Conference’ has been described as ‘one of the most important events in the origins of town planning’ (Lemes de Oliveira, 2010, p.  1). The conference was a major meeting point for the ‘most influential planners at that crucial moment’ and ‘provided a fundamental theoretical corpus that reached far distant corners of the world and influenced the way in which cities across the globe were planned’. In particular it brought together ‘the most fundamental views on how to plan a city at that moment, including the German Städtbau approach, the emerging British Town Planning, the American City Beautiful and the French Urbanisme’.

This interest in planning was met in part by a flurry of new professional and academic journals which emerged to provide a forum for the international dissemination of ideas around planning. For example, the journal Town Planning Review was founded in 1910 and, in addition to many articles on planning in Britain at the time, also featured articles on plans and projects in other countries such as France and Germany. Similarly, urban environment–related professional institutes emerged that helped to disseminate planning ideas such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) (1834), American Institute of Architects (1857), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (1868), Garden Cities and Town Planning Association (now the International Federation for Housing and Planning), and the Town Planning Institute in the UK (1914). These allowed networks of professionals to form within and between countries and organised international events. One such event was RIBA’s Town Planning Conference organised in London in 1910 (Box 2.4). Such events contributed to what Ewen (2016, p. 119) describes as ‘the rise of an international planning associational culture in the years leading up to 1914’.

The Circulation of Planning Ideas in More Recent History Since the mid-twentieth century the international dimension of planning has continued to evolve with forms of planning knowledge circulation continuing in existing, but also new, forms. The 1920s and 1930s saw the continuation of the international exchanges in planning of the preceding decades. These interwar decades were socially, economically, and politically complex in many parts of the globe. Yet partly as a result of this, this was also a rich period of thought and experimentation in planning and related disciplines and sectors such as architecture, housing, and

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regional (economic) planning, as solutions were sought to pressing socioeconomic issues. International exchanges flourished as the activities of planners in different countries continued to define the parameters of ‘modern planning’ and generate experience of its practice. It should be acknowledged too that planning also had a ‘darker’ side in these years. Not all planning movements, or individual planners, for example, eschewed, or escaped, association with colonial, or totalitarian ideologies, and projects. From the late 1940s onwards, the international dimensions of planning were shaped by, amongst other things: the geopolitical configurations and alliances arising from the Cold War; decolonialisation; and the rise of international institutions and development programmes. The last three decades of the twentieth century saw the rising influence of the processes of globalisation with the emergence of new economic powers and geographies, rapid urbanisation in many countries, and the dawning reality of new global challenges like climate change. The historical legacies and path dependencies initiated by many of these issues resonate to the present day and their ongoing relevance informs much of the rest of this book (see Box 1.2 Chaps. 1 and 6). The remainder of this section discusses some examples of the international dimensions of planning from the second half of the twentieth century. Throughout history people have travelled to different cities and regions and noted the kinds of places people live and the post-WWII years provided a rich context for such exchanges. Cook et al. (2015) thus describe the international study tours organised by the UK’s Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) between 1947 and 1961, mostly in Western Europe, but also at times, behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ into the eastern bloc and, in 1961, to the United States of America. Their work highlights the presentism of some of the more recent discussion in the policy mobilities literature (discussed in Chap. 3). By their consideration of such ‘past exchanges and visits by architects, engineers and planners’ Cook et al. (2015, p. 184) hope ‘that greater awareness and appreciation of past examples of comparison and learning might allow contemporary studies to be situated in their longer historical trajectories’. Also significant in the decades following the 1940s was the emergence of new international organisations. The background for planning and development provided by the UN, and other international and transnational organisations today, has already been alluded to in Chap. 1 and will be explored further in Chaps. 6 and 7. This context for planning ‘above and beyond the state’ can principally trace its origins back to the 1940s and 1950s—for example, the foundation of the UN, or the European Economic Community (EEC) in Western Europe. Writing on the pioneering work of, Jacqueline Tyrwhitt, a ‘founding mother of urban design’, in fostering international exchanges of planning thought, Shoshkes (2006, p. 190), for example, notes that: The technical assistance programmes launched by the UN and its affiliated agencies and others by the 1950s reinforced and extended the transnational networks of progressive planners, designers, activists and social reformers, which had been growing since the mid nineteenth century, and which had fostered East–West interchange, and which now began to coalesce as a global scholarly community, in which, … Tyrwhitt occupied a central position.


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Another vector for the transfer of planning ideas, which had previously existed, but which was given a new inflection by the changing historical context, was the work of international consultants, particularly as newly independent states sought to build and reform their planning systems (Box 2.5). This has led to more rapid and expansive transfer of planning knowledge around the world. Some see in such processes traces of lingering and ongoing imperialism and (neo-)colonialism as western ‘best practices’ continued to be seen as those to aspire to and perceived as ‘superior’ to local forms of knowledge (Allmendinger, 2017, p. 273). The transfer of planning through mechanisms other than colonial imposition, or negotiation, but rather the practice of borrowing—common in much of the Western

Box 2.5  Planning in the Service of State Building, the Case of Abu Dhabi

In 1971 the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was founded following independence from treaty relationships with the British. Today it is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-­ Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Abu Dhabi serves as the capital. The city of Abu Dhabi was planned and built quickly from the 1960s onwards with input from two significant planners who worked closely with Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was to become the first president of the new UAE state in the early 1970s. The first of these was the Japanese planner Dr Katsuhiko Takahashi (Attwood, 2008), who had recently completed his master’s degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture and Planning. He arrived in the then town in 1967 when it only had a population of around 40,000. Meeting daily with Sheik Zayed, Katsuhiko later described how “Over time we talked about many things, such as attributes of other cities around the world and my experiences and impressions of them,” and how they “shared a vision of how Abu Dhabi should and could progress” (cited in Attwood, 2008, para. 4). Here in Katsuhiko’s words one can see how international and comparative examples might influence plans developed in a different context. The basic form of the city’s central areas was designed as a grid with a main spine being the Airport Road. Later in the 1960s another international planner was to play a key role in taking this plan forward, Dr Abdulrahman Makhlouf, who had completed a doctorate in Germany, before returning to the Arab world where ‘he worked with the United Nations in the development of urban planning’ (Ghazal, 2013). Abu Dhabi’s early and post-­ independence planning thus illustrates how planning knowledge diffuses internationally with the central role played by two planners who had received a western planning education, but were themselves from different cultural contexts and worked closely with the key founder of a new state with his own ideas of how a new capital city should be planned and developed.

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world since the period of industrial modernisation—is thus increasingly present in other parts of the globe. The success of these processes and projects is, however, not always assured, as often their initial manifestation reflected not only politically and institutionally unique circumstances, but came about temporally at a specific time. For example, the regeneration of the Baltimore waterfront occurred in the 1970s and 1980s at a time of quite different socio-economic conditions than those existing today (Box 2.6). Another dimension of planning which reflects processes of historical change is how the focus on what might be considered key issues or ‘planning problems’ has evolved over time. Many of the examples of international knowledge and practice exchanges around planning cited previously thus reflect and address the issues of growing cities and urban regions. But in the latter decades of the twentieth century new urban challenges associated with what was termed by some the ‘urban crisis’ emerged in many places often, though not exclusively, in the Global North which had experienced strong urbanisation from the nineteenth century onwards. The new challenges reflected processes such as economic restructuring and the decline of certain industries and trends such as unplanned

Box 2.6  Baltimore’s Waterfront Regeneration as Global Inspiration

The disuse of harbours and docklands around the world following the decline of manufacturing in many urban areas led to calls for regeneration in many cities. Baltimore’s efforts to regenerate 100 hectares of waterfront in the 1960s saw much success as it brought commercial activity to the Inner Harbour and helped to encourage more development in the central city. The focus here was on a partnership between the private sector but led by the redevelopment vision of the local government. The effort provided a boost in property taxes for the city and created a thriving commercial and leisure district. Thousands of new jobs were created and  millions of tourists were attracted a  year. As other cities around the world began to redevelop their industrial waterfront areas, many looked to Baltimore as an example (Jauhiainen, 1995; Jones, 1998). Yet while it inspired waterfront regeneration schemes, the focus was largely on the physical regeneration of the waterfront rather than the social elements. Much was made of the role of the private sector’s contribution to the regeneration and consideration of how to mimic this in other cities rather than exploring the need to address the wider socioeconomic issues that arose as a result of the project, such as gentrification of the nearby area that had negative side effects for the working-class population in those neighbourhoods. Baltimore’s physical redevelopment approaches were copied in many European cities, leading to a similar range of leisure, housing, and commercial developments, but lessons on the socio-economic impact have been less present (Jauhiainen, 1995).


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urban sprawl, or planned urban decentralisation, that hollowed out population and activity from urban cores. Associated with such challenges a new lexicon of planning and urban policy emerged that referenced phenomena such as ‘shrinking’ or ‘legacy’ cities, and new policy goals such as ‘urban regeneration’. As in earlier periods when planners and others had searched internationally for solutions to the challenges of rapid growth, they now scanned internationally for practices and case studies of how different places were seeking to revive their fortunes and recover. In this context Baltimore’s waterfront regeneration (Box 2.6) became a much cited and emulated example of how to ‘turn things around’ for a city facing an urban crisis. With the urban crisis of the 1970s now being the better part of half a century ago, and the policy field of ‘urban regeneration’ having taken shape in the years following 1970 in many contexts, these are now processes and experiences that warrant historical study and evaluation including from an international perspective (Couch et al., 2011).

 re There Lessons from Past Episodes of Planning A for the Contemporary Internationalisation of Planning? The accounts above of historical episodes of international imposition, borrowing, and innovation of planning ideas highlight that planning ideas and projects arise in specific contexts and that their applicability and usefulness in another place, or places, cannot be taken for granted. Thus, in reviewing the emergence of modern planning and its international diffusion UN-HABITAT (2009, p. 47) conclude that: An important lesson from the experience of modern planning is that planning approaches which have been shaped by a particular context, should not be considered as models and imposed uncritically on very different contexts. While planning has common purposes, tasks and types of tools throughout the world, the form these take will always be shaped by the social and cultural norms of particular places.

Similarly, urban historian Shane Ewen (2016, p. 124) notes that whilst: progressive reformers encountered a wide array of professional ideas and expertise in their crossings, as well as a plethora of types of services—planning, infrastructure, municipal enterprises, social insurance and modern architecture—which fed back into their reports and policies. Foreign models and innovations never simply materialized as static things; they were the product of painstaking research and collaboration over time and across space by individuals and institutions, and were subsequently imported and exported according to a variety of local, national and even occasional international priorities

Thus, planning’s international history has messages for our own era, as globalisation and increasing interconnectedness between global regions and populations, and the rise of global challenges such as climate change, stimulate interest

Are There Lessons from Past Episodes of Planning for the Contemporary…


in what can be learned internationally from how different political systems and cultures address particular ecological, social, and economic challenges. Today, the local and regional governments that employ many planners and the wider field of ‘consumers’ of planning knowledge, ranging from international real estate corporations, to environmental or social NGOs and networks, often cooperate internationally. This might be on the basis of spatial proximity or connectivity, similar territorial interests or contexts, and/or thematic networks based on addressing challenges such as climate change. Many of these touch on issues which are directly, or indirectly, related to planning, and as a result, planners often play an important role in establishing and animating such co-operation. The perceived internationalism of planning thought and practice may even be one of the factors which attracted some planners into the discipline in the first place. Indeed, Faludi and Waterhout (2002, p. 2) have even described planners as ‘notorious internationalists’! The growth of multidisciplinary private consultancies with operations in many different countries has also played a role in the internationalisation of planning practice echoing the role that consultants played in an earlier era. Perhaps in the contemporary era the work is more likely to be undertaken by teams of planners and other built environmental professionals rather than by a single planning expert commissioned to offer planning advice. Though again one must be careful not to overplay differences, as well as overemphasise similarities with other times—many well-known planners already worked as part of teams and wider practices in earlier periods, even if history tends to record the name of the principal individuals involved. Today, as well as undertaking work internationally, public agencies and consultancies have continued another tradition—that of organising tours to view examples of good practice and projects in other countries, sometimes to meet and exchange ideas with planners, or colleagues based in partner or subsidiary companies operating in those countries. There are concerns, however, that this kind of internationalisation may result in the homogenisation of planning practice, with Bourne warning as far back as 1984 (p. 151) that such globalisation ‘often leads to a unidirectional diffusion of images, a homogenisation of expectations and a standardisation of planning practice’. Insights derived from the literature on colonialisation and decolonialisation also  have resonance here and might direct us to question the often-enduring assumption that ‘western ways’ of doing things are inherently somehow superior to other ways of knowing and acting around planning and development (Beebeejaun, 2021, p. 15). Post-colonial perspectives can also enrich an awareness of the context-dependency of development conditions and planning approaches in different parts of the globe. Notably they can emphasise that there was, and is, a ‘before’ and ‘after’ colonialisation as regards how different societies have organised themselves spatially. With most urban dwellers in the present century living in the countries of the Global South—many of which are former colonies; the need to ‘decentre’ or ‘provincialise’ (Beebeejaun, 2021) Global North perspectives and learn how to ‘see from the south’ (Watson, 2009) appears increasingly pressing if the goals of sustainable urbanisation promoted by key international organisations and many governments are to be effectively pursued.


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It is in this context that awareness of some of the lessons of planning’s rich and varied international history might take on a particular relevance in supporting reflective contemporary international planning practice.

Summary This chapter has traced the ways in which planning knowledge has been transferred between different places over time. It identified processes of diffusion, convergence, and learning, and episodes of imposed, borrowed, and synthetic knowledge transfer. It then explored these through considering episodes in planning history—colonialism, industrialisation and urbanisation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and developments in the second half of the twentieth century. The chapter concluded by emphasising some of the lessons we might draw from the history of planning which might inform the study and practice of planning in an international context today.

Exercise 2.1  Tracing International Influences on the Evolution of Planning Systems

Either working individually or as a group with colleagues select a planning system or systems with which you are familiar and consider the following questions: –– When does the planning system date back to? –– What were the main drivers for its establishment—that is, what were the issues it was created to address? –– Was the creation of the planning system shaped by international influences? –– If so, through which mechanisms did this arise? Here you may wish to consider Ward’s (1999) notions of ‘imposed’, ‘borrowed’, and ‘synthetic’ influence as a way of framing your reflections. –– Which aspects of planning were shaped by international influences? For example the structure of the system; the principles by which it operates (e.g. is it a regulatory, discretionary, or hybrid system? See Chap. 5); specific planning tools or methods; specific planning models or concepts? –– Has the international influence remained strong, or faded over time? Have there been new rounds of international influence? If so, why? –– Has the planning system, or any of the planning approaches it adopts, influenced planning in other places? If so, how? Have the ideas been applied in the same way, or modified to suit a different context?



Exercise 2.2  Tracing the International Influence and Circulation of Planning Ideas

Either working individually, or as a group with colleagues, select a historically significant planning concept or model and consider the following questions: –– Where did the model, or concept, originate? –– What were the issues which it was designed to address? –– What were the key features of the model, or concept, as originally formulated in its country of origin? –– How influential was it, and was its application deemed to be a success in its original ‘home context’? –– Did the planning concept, or model, subsequently circulate internationally? –– If so, how long after its original creation did this process begin, and what were the drivers of its international diffusion (again you may wish to refer to Ward, 1999 here). –– Was the model, or concept, adapted in any way when being applied in other contexts? –– Were any issues encountered in its application in other contexts? –– Was the concept, or model, ultimately deemed to be a success in other contexts? –– Did experience of application in other contexts contribute to onward diffusion of the planning concept, or model, to further countries? –– Did experiences of the planning concept’s, or model’s, international application, and any adaptations made to it, in any way influence thinking, or practice, back in its country of origin? –– Is the planning concept, or model, still influential today, in its country of origin, internationally, or both? If so, why does it have enduring appeal; if not why has its influence faded?

References Allmendinger, P. (2017). Planning Theory. Palgrave Macmillan. Attwood, K. (2008, September 11). Building a city from the sands. The National. Beebeejaun, Y. (2021). Provincializing planning: Reflections on spatial ordering and imperial power. Planning Theory, 1–21, 248. Beeckmans, L. (2013). Editing the African city: Reading colonial planning in Africa from a comparative perspective. Planning Perspectives, 28(4), 615–627. Bourne, L. S. (1984). Cross national comparative planning studies: Commentary. Town Planning Review, 55(2), 150–151. Briggs, A. (1963). Victorian cities. Odhams Press. Choay, F. (1969). The modern city: Planning in the 19th century (M.  Hugo, & G.  R. Collins, Trans.). George Braziller. Cook, I., Ward, S., & Ward, K. (2015). Post-war planning and policy tourism: The international study tours of the Town and Country Planning Association 1947–1961. Planning Theory & Practice, 16(2), 184–205. Couch, C., Sykes, O., & Boerstinghaus, W. (2011). Thirty years of urban regeneration in Britain, Germany and France: The importance of context and path dependency. Progress in Planning, 75, 1–52.


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Diaw, K., Nkya, T., & Watson, V. (2002). Planning education in sub-Saharan Africa: Responding to the demand of a changing context. Planning Education, 17(3), 337–348. Ewen, S. (2016). What is Urban history? Polity Press. Faludi, A., & Waterhout, B. (2002). The making of the European spatial development perspective. No masterplan. RTPI library series. Routledge. Ghazal, R. (2013). The Man behind Abu Dhabi’s Master Plan. The National, November 11. https:// Habitat, U. N. (2009). Planning sustainable cities: Global report on human settlements. Earthscan. Harvey, D. (2003). The right to the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(4), 939–994. Harvey, D. (2006). Paris capital of modernity. Routledge. Healey, P. (2010). Introduction. In P. Healey & R. Upton (Eds.), Crossing borders: International exchange and planning practices. Routledge. Healey, P., & Upton, R. (2010). Crossing borders: International exchange and planning practices. Routledge. Hein, C. (Ed.) (2018). The Routledge Handbook of Planning History. Routledge. Home, R. (1990). Town planning and garden cities in the British colonial empire 1910–1940. Planning Perspectives, 5(1), 23–37. Home, R. (2013). Of planting and planning: The making of British colonial cities. Routledge. Jauhiainen, J. (1995). Waterfront redevelopment and urban policy: The case of Barcelona, Cardiff and Genoa. European Planning Studies., 3(1), 3–23. Jones, A. (1998). Issues in waterfront regeneration: More sobering thoughts-a UK perspective. Planning Practice & Research, 13(4), 433–442. Jones, Z. (2016). Synergies and frictions between mega-events and urban heritage in the European Capital of Culture program: A comparative study of Genoa 2004, Liverpool 2008 and Istanbul 2010. Lemes de Oliveira, F. (2010). The first town planning conference revisited. Research paper presented at the 14th International Planning History Society (IPHS) Conference, Istanbul, 12–15 July 2010. Lieto, L. (2013). Place as trading zone: A controversial path of innovation for planning theory and practice. In A.  Balducci & R.  Mantysalo (Eds.), Urban planning as a trading zone (pp. 143–158). Springer. Paz-Fuchs, A., & Cohen-Lifshiz, A. (2010). The changing character of Israel’s occupation: Planning and civilian control. Town Planning Review, 81(6), 585–597. Rutherford, S. (2014). Garden cities. Shire Publications. Shoshkes, E. (2006). Jaqueline Tyrwhitt: A founding mother of modern urban design. Planning Perspectives, 21(2), 179–197. Stead, D., de Vries, J., & Tasan-Kok, T. (2015). Planning cultures and histories: Influences on the evolution of planning systems and spatial development patterns. European Planning Studies, 23(11), 2127–2132. Steele, J., & Shafik, R. (2010). Tensions and transformations in the master planning of Istanbul. In Urban Transformation: Controversies, contrasts and challenges (pp  1–9). 14th IPHS Conference. Sykes, O. (2013, December). Remembering the legacy of ‘le baron’, 160 years on. Town and Country Planning, 2013, 546–551. Taylor, N. (1998). Urban planning theory since 1945. Sage. Ward, S. (1999). The international diffusion of planning: A review and a Canadian case study. International Planning Studies, 4(1), 53–77. Ward, S.  V., Freestone, R., & Silver, C. (2011). Centenary paper: The ‘new’ planning history reflections, issues and directions. Town Planning Review, 82(3), 231–262. Watson, V. (2009). Seeing from the South: Refocusing urban planning on the globe’s central urban issues. Urban Studies, 46(11), 2259–2275. Yeboah, E., & Shaw, D. P. (2013). Customary land tenure practices in Ghana: Examining the relationship with land-use planning delivery, International Development Planning Review, 35(1), 21–39,


Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies

Introduction Building on the historical background outlined in the previous chapter, this chapter explores more contemporary contexts and concepts to identify some themes which might be used to frame international planning studies. These are inspired by the contemporary historical and global background for planning, interdisciplinary academic work which engages with this, and—reflecting the importance of practice generated knowledge to the planning discipline—planning practice. The selection is necessarily subjective, but the themes are offered as relevant ‘points of entry’ to the field. Key aspects of the themes are explored in more depth in subsequent chapters as they manifest in planning systems, global agendas for planning, supranational, transnational, and cross-border planning, and planning practice, scholarship, and teaching. The first section briefly considers how concepts in international planning studies might relate to wider planning knowledge and theory. The second explores themes which arise from the present historical context, or ‘conjuncture’ of globalisation and planetary urbanisation, climate emergency, sustainability and resilience, and internationalisation and internationalism. The third unpacks notions of scale, territoriality, and spatial imaginaries, as conceptual tools with which to engage with planning in its contemporary international settings. The fourth explores themes of law, administration, and politics, including the importance of an appreciation of formal and informal institutional settings and practices to international planning studies. The fifth section considers concepts which interrogate how far the international themes, phenomena, and trends covered in the preceding sections may drive the evolution of planning in different places, or whether structuring institutional and cultural ‘fixities’ (Hamedinger, 2014) may mitigate the influence of these. The chapter ends with a summary of the key themes.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 O. Sykes et al., International Planning Studies, Planning, Environment, Cities,



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 lanning Theory and Knowledge for International P Planning Studies Allmendinger (2002, p. 92) notes how ‘Most books on planning theory list various perspectives including the usual suspects of Marxism, neo-liberal, advocacy, systems, rational comprehensive, design, collaborative and neo-pragmatic theories among others’ (see also Taylor, 1998). These ‘indigenous planning’ theories (Allmendinger, 2017, pp. 48–52) are identifiable in the theory and practice of planning in a variety of international contexts—for example, in approaches which place, more or less, emphasis on technical knowledge, ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ solutions, the role of the public, state and private sectors in urban development and so on. Addressing substandard living conditions in slum areas of a city could thus be approached by adopting a comprehensive clearance and redevelopment approach led by the state, some kind of public private partnership, or a slum-upgrading approach with greater community involvement and coproduction of the planning outcome. The use and transformation of such ideas in, and through, planning practice is mediated by time and space, as manifested in the characteristics of different ‘places’ internationally. For Allmendinger ‘Space, time, the institutional and government context and other important influences’ thus ‘play an important role in the formulation of indigenous theory’ (Allmendinger, 2002, p. 92). The increasing recognition of the international context for planning thought is leading to a growing overlap between what might be seen as ‘general’ planning theories, and themes of enquiry in international planning studies. A recent edition of Allmendinger’s (2017) planning theory text, for example, now includes discussion of post-colonialism, informality, and the relationship between insurgent forms of urban citizenship and planning in cities of the Global South. Another key contemporary trend is that the intellectual bases of planning globally are being increasingly informed by insights from the Global South (Mukhopadhyay et al., 2021). The role of practice in knowledge formation within planning also takes on a particular significance when considering the discipline from an international perspective. Planning practices in many global settings often ‘run ahead’ of theorisation, and the dominance of academic debate by certain global regions may lead to a ‘theory-practice’ gap as regards its relevance to the material realities of planning and development ‘on the ground’ in other settings (see Chap. 9). International processes of policy reflection around urbanisation, development, and planning are also generating conversations between diverse stakeholders around key planning ideas and concepts—for example, the Issue Papers, Policy Papers, and concepts which emerged from the UN’s Habitat III preparatory process discussed in Chap. 6 have fed into useful glossaries and subject indices such as UN-Habitat (2017a, b) and UNHSP (2018). Finally, reflecting the interdisciplinary orientation of planning, ideas from a range of disciplines provide additional context and insights, and inform many of the key themes of enquiry introduced below.

Key Contextual Themes


Key Contextual Themes Globalisation and Planetary Urbanisation Globalisation and urbanisation are both empirical phenomena and the subject of intense academic debates. Globalisation is commonly seen as having economic, political, and cultural dimensions and as having implications for environmental and social conditions in different parts of the globe. There are no agreed definitions of the term, and different views on how ‘new’ a phenomenon it is—for example, there are arguments that previous historical periods characterised by the rise of international trade and phenomena such as colonialism were also heavily ‘globalised’ (Wilks-Heeg, 2003). There is also much debate about the costs and benefits of globalisation for populations in different parts of the world and its impacts on territoriality and, increasingly, the environment. There are those that claim that greater interconnectedness means that physical space and distance are less important and that the ‘bounded’ territoriality of jurisdictions like nation states is eroded as relational geographies of both material, and increasingly dematerialised, communications and exchanges become more important. Others counter that even in a ‘relational world’ global trends and impacts are still ‘territorialised’ and ‘geography still matters’ (e.g. a coastal or inland location; population density; climate), shaping how places develop, for example, the cities and regions which planning addresses (including cross-­ border regions and metropolitan areas). Globalisation creates diverse development opportunities across different regions and is linked to the rise of new economic powers such as the ‘BRIC’ countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), but notwithstanding this, the globe is still characterised by uneven development and huge differentials in income levels, living conditions and opportunities between different places and populations. As noted in Chap. 1 the present is also an epoch of global urbanisation with a majority of the human population of the planet being urban dwellers with this proportion continuing to grow. As defining trends of our age, globalisation and urbanisation have been the subject of extensive reflection in diverse academic disciplines. In the 1980s and 1990s there was considerable attention devoted to the phenomena of ‘world cities’ and ‘global cities’ (Sassen, 1991) with high concentrations of advanced professional services, creative, and financial sectors, and ‘command functions’ in the global economy. Castells’s (2000) notion of the emergence of a relational global ‘space of flows’ with implications for the ‘space of places’ made up of material spaces and territories seeks to account for effects of new technologies, pointing to a ‘growing tension and articulation between the space of flows and the space of places’ (Castells, 2001, 2002). He considers how planning, architecture, and urban design are influenced by these processes to create connectivity, ‘mark places in the space of flows’ through symbolic buildings and projects, and create public spaces that foster free and spontaneous interactions (Castells, 2001, 2002).


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Critiques of the impacts of such trends point to the rise of generic planning and architectural styles and effects like displacement of certain populations and gentrification as a result of major real estate and redevelopment projects (Smith, 2002). Often these are framed with reference to the phenomenon of ‘inter urban competition’ and the impacts of neoliberalism and neoliberalisation which point to a ‘neoliberalization of urbanism’ (or ‘urbanization’) and an ‘urbanization of neoliberalism’. As ‘With the financialization of the economy, urban assets, built environments have become increasingly central and even crucial in the current forms of capitalist accumulation’ (Pinson & Morel Journel, 2016, p. 139). In the early twenty-first century, the milestone of the majority of the global population living in urban areas having been passed and the urban population continuing to increase has focussed attention on wider processes of ‘planetary urbanisation’ as a socio-spatial phenomenon that overspills the boundaries of physically urban places. Lefebvre (1970, 2003) argued that ‘The erasure of the demarcation between city and country that follows the rise of consumerism and technological development’ had led to an ‘urban revolution’ (Andermatt Conley, 2012, p. 17). He ‘anticipated the rise of a planetary “fabric” from an ever restless, expanding capitalist urbanization’, meaning that ‘there is now no longer anything in the world outside the urban’ (Wilson & Jonas, 2018, p. 1576). In the intervening decades the material reality of increased urbanisation and technological and economic transformations have led a new generation of scholars to explore the nature and implications of ‘planetary urbanisation’. Brenner and Schmid (2011, 2015) question the continuing meaning of terms such as ‘urban, suburban, and rural zones’ in the face of ‘worldwide socio-spatial transformations’ which have contributed to the creation of new scales of urbanisation; blurring and rearticulation of urban territories; disintegration of the urban ‘hinterland’; and the end of the ‘wilderness’ (Brenner & Schmid, 2011, p. 11). The notion of planetary urbanisation finds a strong echo too in policy discourse; for example, the UNHSP (United Nations Human Settlements Programme) (2018, p.  4) explicitly evokes the implications of global urbanisation beyond urban areas noting: The tentacles of these epochal changes wrap around villages and rural regions too, changing forever places and landscapes that until now were thought to be timeless. The young and aspiring head to the town, or leave the small town for the big city. Many rural regions get trapped in a downward spiral: their shrinking and aging populations struggle to obtain or sustain the opportunities and services that are necessary to stem the outflow of people. Yet, if properly managed, urbanisation can create prosperity and lift people out of poverty, in both rural and urban areas.

The notion of planetary urbanisation also has its critics, notably as regards the universal applicability of the concept. There is an argument, for example, that it has largely been derived from the experience of the Global North and is not as applicable to the societies and cities of the Global South. Schindler (2017, p. 47, 60) thus feels it ‘erases difference among cities and locates the essence of urbanity in the global North’ and places like ‘Euro-American and Northeast Asian cities’. Notably

Key Contextual Themes


it reflects political economy, or neo-Marxian thinking, whereas ‘cities in the South tend to exhibit a persistent disconnect between capital and labour’; ‘their metabolic configurations are discontinuous, dynamic and contested’; and ‘political economy is not the overriding context within which urban processes unfold, but rather it is always already co-constituted with the materiality of Southern cities’ (Schindler, 2017, p.  47). There are also those who ask ‘What does the increasingly popular focus on ‘the urban’, however vaguely it is defined, do for places (from rural areas, to islands, suburbs, small states, small and medium-sized towns and villages) that do not readily ‘fit’ into the urban focus of today’s global policy agendas?’ (Caprotti et al., 2017, p. 368). Meanwhile, notions such as ‘neoliberal’ urbanisation and the ‘neoliberal city’ which seem to exert an almost hegemonic influence over contemporary urban studies are not without their critics—notably as regards their degree of ‘presentism’ and universal applicability even across the ‘global north west’. Pinson and Morel Journel (2016, p. 144) note, for example, that in ‘Southern European countries, the delegation of public service provision to private firms, the building up of joint-ventures companies articulating public and private capital to implement development projects, is not a feature that appeared in the 1980s, but rather is the rule since the late 19th century’. Such nuances are important in international planning studies which cannot content themselves with making sweeping context-free generalisations based on a select few fashionable academic theories if they are to generate useful insights into planning practices and outcomes in different global settings.

Climate Emergency, Sustainability, and Resilience A key contemporary setting for planning is the anthropogenic climate emergency and the scientific consensus that unless urgent collective action is taken over the next decade dangerous climate change will be unavoidable. The UN Environment Programme warned in 2019 that emissions of greenhouse gases need to be reduced by 7.6% each year until 2030 if a global temperature increase to more than 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 is to be avoided. Actions to try and reduce emissions aim to mitigate climate change, but given that it is already generating effects, adaptation efforts are needed too. Planning has a role in both, for example, in seeking to promote less energy intensive patterns of development and in trying to ensure that effective adaptation measures are incorporated into designs and projects to make them resilient in the face of now unavoidable impacts of climate change (e.g. adequate urban drainage and flood water management systems). Global action and planning to meet the challenges of climate change and other urgent ecological agendas such as mitigating biodiversity loss also raise many complex and contested issues surrounding environmental justice and international ‘load sharing’. These can arise across the scales that planning addresses. Developed countries have pursued development using energy intensive models which have brought prosperity and enhanced life chances to their citizens, but contributed to climate change and often to environmental degradation of their own, and often other,


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territories. Now many developing and intermediate countries and their populations naturally wish to improve their development levels too, but if they do so by adopting the same models this will aggravate environmental challenges. The environmental justice issue is given added salience by the fact that many of the most severe impacts of climate change are already affecting some of the poorest regions and populations on the planet that have contributed least to the problem. In discussing international developmental agendas, it is therefore useful to bear in mind arguments that there is a need to decentre notions of development, and acknowledge that the approach pursued by many states in the Global North may not necessarily be a model for all countries to aspire to, notably given the social, environmental and cultural impacts this model has often entailed. Policy debates across scales from the global to the local often couch responses to climate change and other environmental challenges in terms of achieving sustainable development and increasingly resilience. Sustainable development is considered more fully in Chap. 6, but briefly, it aspires to meeting the needs of the present and future whilst having regards to ecological, economic, and social issues and carrying capacities. Resilience meanwhile is defined by the United Nations Office for Sustainable Disaster Recovery (2017, para 1.) as ‘The ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential structures and functions through risk management’. Related notions are those of ‘bouncing back’, or ‘bouncing forward’, from crises to return to a previous, or reach a new, state of equilibrium. As Davoudi et al. (2012, p. 302) notes, ‘much of the resilience-building literature is dominated by post-disaster emergency planning, where the focus is on sudden, large and turbulent events, at the expense of gradual, small and cumulative changes’. Planning may be called upon to develop resilience in the face of both ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ disasters/emergencies—for example, to increased risk of urban flooding events due to climate change, or to the gradual, but cumulative, effects of urban air pollution on the habitability of cities and public health. The notion of ‘evolutionary resilience’ challenges the idea of equilibrium and focuses on adaptive cycles, different scales, and different speeds and timeframes. Linking to the theme of territoriality discussed later, Davoudi et  al.  (2012, p.  304) argues that it ‘promotes the understanding of places not as units of analysis of neutral containers, but as complex, interconnected socio-spatial systems with extensive and unpredictable feedback processes which operate at multiple scales and timeframes’.

Internationalisation v. Internationalism? Addressing the issues raised by globalisation, climate change, and other environmental, social, and economic challenges requires different forms of global governance and international cooperation. The UN and its agencies and intergovernmental and supranational regional cooperation initiatives in different parts of the globe seek

Scale, Territoriality, and Spatial Imaginaries


to provide this. The context(s) these provide for planning are discussed in Chap. 6 and 7 which examine the rise of a global agenda for planning and the influence of cross-border, transnational and supranational settings on planning. Initiatives emerging from the latter are typically framed around the goals of sustainable development and increasingly the promotion of different forms of resilience in the face of shocks to environmental, social, and economic systems. Similar agendas are also pursued by planning at nation state, regional, local, and neighbourhood levels in many countries. However, building consensus and the capacity to act internationally is challenging, as the notion of multilateralism as a way to address issues which matter to the whole global community may be rendered fragile by the unilateral pursuit of individual state interests by certain powerful nation states. In thinking about these issues, it is useful to bear in mind the distinction that some scholars have made between ‘internationalisation’ and ‘internationalism’. In the former, processes of ‘internationalisation’ are conceived as a result of globalisation, and driven largely by the profit-seeking motives of individuals, firms, and institutions operating in a neoliberalised global system. ‘Internationalisation’ might thus be seen as attractive due to the growth opportunities that it offers, for example, to cities in competitively attracting foreign direct investment, planning consultancies selling services across international boundaries, or the contribution international student fee income makes to the revenue of receiving academic institutions. However, internationalisation is often seen as creating ‘winners and losers’ amongst different populations and places around the globe and may lead to mixed social and environmental effects, some positive and welcomed, and others negative and resisted at different times and in certain places. A good example of the latter is the rise in attention in some developed countries since the mid-2010s to regions and populations apparently ‘left behind’ by the dynamics of ongoing globalisation (Sykes, 2018). ‘Internationalism’, in contrast to ‘internationalisation’, might rather emphasise ‘inter-cultural understanding over financial motives’ and demand ‘a focus on personal engagement with the Cultural Other’ (Tian & Lowe, 2009, pp. 659–663). As outlined in Chap. 2, planning simultaneously has a tradition of both progressive internationalism, and of being an instrument in the service of controversial movements in international geopolitics, notably colonialism (Beebeejaun, 2021). In the contemporary world it is also called upon to serve, and often to attempt to reconcile, the aspirations of internationalisation and internationalism as they are manifested, on the ground in different settings.

Scale, Territoriality, and Spatial Imaginaries Scales of Planning The global and international contexts and trends outlined above have focussed attention on developmental and sustainability dynamics at multiple scales from the local to the global. This has seen a corresponding extension in the scales at which planning reflection and action take place. The UN’s International Guidelines on


3  Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies

Urban and Territorial Planning (IGUTP) (UN-Habitat, 2015, pp. 2–3), for example, identify five key levels of planning, the: 1. Supranational/transboundary level 2. National level 3. City-regional/metropolitan level 4. City and municipal level 5. Neighbourhood level These provide a useful starting point in reflecting on how planning might be conceived and practised at scales which go ‘beyond’ those bounded by the traditional nation state. However, some immediate observations are necessary. Firstly, that the term supranational is not simply about scale, but refers to international, or quasi-­international, governmental bodies that operate beyond national boundaries. It is often used in UN discourse (UN HABITAT, 2015; UNHSP, 2018), but it is important to recognise that it is not a synonym for another term commonly used in international planning studies—transnational (though they often seem to be used quite interchangeably). The term supranational refers to ‘transcending national boundaries or interests’ (Allen, 2001, p. 899); ‘having power or influence that transcends national boundaries or governments’ (OED Online); or ‘involving more than one country, or having power or authority that is greater than that of single countries’ (Cambridge Dictionary). The reference to transcending national interests, power, and authority is the key as it implies agency to act in relation to a wider ‘common good’ which sits above narrow ‘statism’—notably when it comes to spatial issues, above ‘state territorialism’ (Faludi, 2018). The term ‘supranational’ is thus generally used to refer to agencies that operate above and beyond national boundaries to serve some collective agenda or interest. In political science and international relations, some have posited a continuum between intergovernmental working and supranationalism (Sandholtz & Stone Sweet, 1998) with more integrated capacity for collective action as supranationalism increases. So, whilst there are a number of geographically, economically, or culturally determined alliances including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, Caribbean Community, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) (and its predecessor the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)), African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Commonwealth of Nations, International Organisation of La Francophonie, and the European Union, the extent of supranationalism varies. This means that the forms of regulation they may use in seeking to promote certain principles, standards, and practices that national governments agree to adhere to vary greatly under such diverse institutional arrangements. Some of these bodies remain more intergovernmental in their legal and operational approaches. By contrast in a treaty-based body with a highly supranational character such as the European Union (EU), individuals, businesses, and governments can be held to account for not complying with EU member state and European Parliament agreed EU rules and regulations in a diverse range of fields.

Scale, Territoriality, and Spatial Imaginaries


Studying the impact of international/supranational institutions on planning is thus one theme of international planning studies—for example, the role of the International Monetary Fund in the liberalisation of trade and how this impacts infrastructure planning, or the influence of the EU on planning in its member states (see Chap. 7). In doing so it is important to always be aware that the degree of ‘bindingness’ of their policies and any legislative enactments varies greatly. Though not featured in the levels of planning identified in UN-Habitat (2015, pp.  2–3), transnational is another commonly used term in international planning studies. It is broader in meaning than supranational and refers to something ‘extending beyond national boundaries’ (Allen, 2001, p.  950); ‘extending or operating across national boundaries’ (OED Online); or ‘involving several nations’ (Cambridge Dictionary). Thus, an entity like a river basin which straddles national borders might be described as transnational, whilst the terms ‘supranational’, or ‘intergovernmental’, could describe any institutional arrangements (including cross-border strategies) which seek to manage it in an integrated manner in the wider social, ecological, cultural, and economic interests of the territory it covers. The term is also used to refer to entities, policies, or activities that extend, or operate across, national boundaries. These can also be private organisations such as ‘Transnational Corporations’, which can include planning consultancies, real estate companies, and architectural practices that operate in different countries and play a role in the diffusion of planning concepts and design of the built environment across the globe. Similarly, NGOs that operate in multiple countries can also be considered transnational entities, often playing a key role in conservation issues, urban health initiatives, and the development and management of informal settlements and infrastructure. There are also examples of transnational development visions which are promoted by specific states, perhaps as a means of supporting domestic economic development through finding new markets and promoting international development, and fostering international relations, geopolitical presence, and ‘soft power’. These may be transnational but, unless power is somehow pooled, or shared, they are not supranational—though they are often based on multilateral intergovernmental agreements, or ‘softer’ instruments like a memorandum of understanding (MoU). Such initiatives may also raise questions about power and the dominance of some states over other states and regions and where the balance of any ‘collective’ or individual territorial interest lies. Any study of different forms of transnationalism in planning needs to be aware of such political questions and contexts. Whilst all supranational actions are transnational, therefore, not all transnational actions and influences on planning are supranational. Most examples of transnational reflection and cooperation around planning are not supranational, but rely on looser, more ad hoc, arrangements often led by local and regional actors, sometimes framed by intergovernmental agreements at nation state level. UN-Habitat (2018, p.  23) thus notes that ‘for the time being, there is often an absence of planning authorities and competences assigned to levels beyond the national level’. In practice therefore, not all (in fact very little) transnational reflection, and where it exists strategy making, in relation to planning can be described as authentically


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‘supranational’. More confusingly perhaps, as will be explained in Chap. 7, not all supranational influence over planning is transnational in terms of the level/scale at which it becomes manifest—for example, EU directives on environmental issues can have implications for local level planning. Thus the ‘transnational’–’supranational’ distinction cannot be understood as simply a matter of scale and loose use of the latter term to mean anything ‘above and beyond’ the nation state can create confusion. For example, a cross-border initiative at local, or metropolitan, scale could be supranational from an institutional perspective, whereas a cooperation initiative across a wider global region could be transnational, but rely on intergovernmental working rather than supranationalism. Such distinctions may appear rather remote from the everyday concerns of planners and planning, but relate to an important theme developed across Chaps. 6 and 7, which is the extent to which global and transnational planning agendas exert a binding, or softer, influence on both. The previous paragraphs outline concepts relating to the ‘above the state’ scale which is clearly relevant to international planning studies. The field is of course not limited to these scales, for example, a major theme of enquiry within it might be how these scales influence planning at other ‘lower’ levels. Table 3.1 reflects this and extends the UN-Habitat (2015) framework to identify further scales of influence over planning. To avoid later repetition, this section does not now consider each of these scales in turn; rather, they are addressed through subsequent chapters as indicated in the final column of the table. The levels identified above overlap, are organised very differently in different places, do not necessarily form a hierarchy in terms of either the physical scale or administrative competences of different territories, and are in many cases ‘nested’— for example, a cross-border planning initiative could be embedded within a regional, or transnational, as well as local, or metropolitan, context. The level of vertical influence between scales also varies between states based on the levels at which planning competences are concentrated and the degree of engagement in scales of planning ‘beyond the state’. Horizontal interactions and influences can also occur between entities at the same level within, or between, states—for example, through exchanges between given cities, or regions, on certain policy issues. For this reason, notions of ‘scales’ and ‘levels’ of planning can sometimes be somewhat reductionist and misleading in international planning studies, notably underplaying aspects of relational space and territoriality and perceptual dimensions of space and place.

Territoriality The term ‘territorial’ can be defined as meaning ‘belonging to, or relating to territory or land, or the territory under the jurisdiction of a state or ruler’ (OED Online). One of the key challenges for planning in dealing with interconnectedness and relationality has been the extent to which it is traditionally territorially bounded within given administrative units. From a planning perspective, this provides a degree of


Scale, Territoriality, and Spatial Imaginaries Table 3.1  Scales of influence over planning goals and policies

Scale Global

Interregional (bridging global regions) Global Region (multi-­ national regional scale)

Examples of institutions and policies UN Sustainable Development goals; UN Urban Agenda; International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning; Paris Climate Change Agreement; UNESCO World Heritage; WHO definitions, etc. China’s Belt and Road Policy

Supranational organisations like the EU and its legislation, policies and programmes which can impact planning and strategies like the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) Intergovernmental agreements between states in the same global region Transnational (within global EU promoted ‘macro-regions’ (Baltic Sea, Danube regions) Basin, etc.) Cross-border planning Initiatives and strategies that seek to address planning issues across national borders. Nation state level National planning systems, policies and strategies Federal state/devolved level Federal state plans and spatial perspectives; plans and planning systems of devolved territories in some states Regional-level planning Regional strategies and plans; river basin management plans Sub-regional planning Sub-regional plans and joint-plans between municipalities Metropolitan and city Metropolitan-scale structure plans and strategies regional level Local urban/town Planning Different forms of local plan Sub-local scales of planning, Plans for specific quarters and neighbourhoods; for example, at the level of protected natural and heritage areas and assets quarters and neighbourhoods

Covered mainly in chapter(s) 1, 6, 8

7 7

7 7 5 5, 7 5, 7 5, 7 5, 6, 7 5, 6, 7 5

certainty, responsibility, and accountability over which governmental body (national, regional, or local) has a competence for various planning activities. The nation state is traditionally the key framework within which planning systems sit. A broad social contract between the citizens and the state enables the purposes of planning to be defined, and the decision-making practices and rules of engagement between the individual citizens, developers, stakeholder interest groups, and decision-makers to be established. But there are questions as to whether this model is as well adapted to delivering spatial governance today as it may have been in the past with many contemporary global challenges transcending the limits of nation states. Faludi (2016 and 2018) invokes the notion of the ‘poverty of territorialism’ from a number of different perspectives. Even though the nation state is often a relatively recent artefact—in many cases dating back to the nineteenth century, or being even more recently founded—the claim is that in an increasingly globalised,


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interconnected, and rapidly changing world, no state, regardless of its spatial extent, can hope to control all the trends and issues which have impacts within its boundaries. Notions of monolithic territorial control and ‘sovereignty’ are also anachronistic and inconsistent with contemporary relational understandings of space and spatial relations. Similarly, bounding planning to historically fixed spatial units may constrain planning perspectives and narrow the scope to act in tackling contemporary economic, social, cultural, and environmental challenges, which are often highly complex and interconnected stretching across a range of geographies. Attempts at reorganising, or ‘rescaling’, spatial governance and planning (Sturzaker & Nurse, 2020) to try and better reflect ‘functional’ geographies and generate relevant planning units are one response to the challenges outlined above— for example, the periodic reforms to city regional governance and metropolitan planning in different countries over recent decades (Demazière et al., 2020; Perrin, 2021). It is often argued that such reforms will increase administrative efficiency and the ability of spatial governance to meet spatial development and other objectives. International planning studies therefore often require an appreciation that administrative boundaries within nation states change periodically and that such reorganisation can affect the way that planning functions. In particular, planning units and the responsibilities for planning vested at different scales evolve and this needs to be taken into account, notably if any cross-national comparisons are to be attempted. Whilst formal planning remains largely bounded by administrative and governmental units (which themselves are often temporary constructs), there are therefore growing arguments that planners’ visions and thinking should be expanded beyond these fixed territorial boundaries. In some readings territorially embedded, and relational and unbounded, conceptions of planning are complementary alternatives. The search for appropriate responses to the complex, rapidly changing spatial relations of the twenty-first century can be seen in the co-existence of formal and ‘fuzzy’ planning spaces (Allmendinger & Houghton, 2010). These fuzzy, or soft, spaces for planning, define partnership governance arrangements across spaces that are no longer simply territorially bounded and under the authoritative control of one agency. Yet, whilst such reconfigurations of ideas about spatial governance to reflect new relational realities may make sense and appeal to theorists, and professionals tasked with developing planning responses, they also raise issues about political scrutiny, accountability, and legitimacy, given that most political systems still operate according to fixed sets of territorial boundaries (see later discussion of legitimacy). New conditions of urbanisation are increasingly raising the need for spatial strategy formulation and application at supra regional scales in order to address the challenges and opportunities engendered by evolving patterns of urban change. Neumanh and Zonneveld (2018 and 2021) refer to this as a new resurgence in regional design at a variety of spatial scales. And whilst territorial planning has typically been associated with land-based (‘terrestrial’) planning activities, increasingly maritime nations and the supranational EU are ‘stepping into the sea’ and promoting the planning of land and sea, as essentially one territorial unit (see Chap. 7).

Scale, Territoriality, and Spatial Imaginaries


Planners and planning are therefore being called upon to consider this new space, where flows are not territorially bounded, are part of a shared ‘commons’, and there are clear land sea interactions.

Spatial Imaginaries The fluid nature of space and cognitive and human perceptions of it are considered by a growing body of work that explores so-called spatial imaginaries. For Davoudi et al. (2018, p. 101) spatial imaginaries are ‘deeply held, collective understandings of socio-spatial relations that are performed by, give sense to, make possible and change collective socio-spatial practices’ and ‘are produced through political struggles over the conceptions, perceptions and lived experiences of place’. Watkins (2015, p.  511) notes that spatial imaginaries have been documented at various scales: ‘Outer space, Global, Supranational Region, Nation-state, Sub-state nation, Subnational region, City, Home’ and that there are at least ‘three different types of spatial imaginaries’: (1) places such as the Orient, Detroit, or Russia; (2) idealised spaces such as the ghetto, developed country, or global city; and (3) spatial transformations such as globalisation, gentrification, or deindustrialisation (2015, p. 508, 512). These kinds of terms appear frequently in writing about planning and development in an international context. Indeed, throughout this book there are numerous references to different places, idealised spaces, and spatial transformations (e.g. see the discussions earlier in this chapter of globalisation and planetary urbanisation). Spatial imaginaries may shape our impressions of different places—especially those with which we may not be familiar ourselves—and direct our attention to different development issues. For example, academic work and international documents refer to different kinds of places: ‘slums/informal development’, ‘smart cities’, ‘compact cities’, notions of the ‘Global North’, and ‘Global South’ (see discussion in Chap. 1), or the ‘historic urban landscape’ (see Box 6.7). What kinds of images come to mind when we hear such terms being invoked, and how might they shape our impressions of different issues that planning addresses, and how planning is conducted in different places? Work on spatial imaginaries increasingly seeks to explore their performative as well as representational properties, and to explore their relationships with material spaces, places, and practices. Davoudi et al. argue that understanding ‘performativity’ matters because imaginaries ‘Constructed and circulated through images, discourses and practices, … generate far reaching claims on our social and political lives’ (2018, p.  97). Crawford (2019) meanwhile notes how imaginaries can be ‘conscripted’ to different power agendas. Appreciation of how spatial imaginaries articulate with material spaces, places, and practices can help develop our interpretations of the role of new scales, territories, and imagined and material spaces in planning. An example might be the Chinese ‘Belt and Road’ initiative which is discussed in Chap. 7, which seeks to reignite the spatial imaginary of the ‘Silk Road’ to underwrite new development agendas. The notion of imaginaries can also inform more critical perspectives on


3  Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies

how globalisation and internationalisation influence planning and development, contributing to readings of the fluid and dynamic nature of scale, relational space, and territorialism (Faludi, 2018) in the contemporary era of globalisation and planetary urbanisation.

Law, Administration, and Politics Planning and the Law Planning ‘is part of the rule of law and an integral element of governance’ (UNHSP, 2018, p. 79). As a result, legal ideas and the nature of legal systems influence the kind of legislation and frameworks that establish planning systems and the processes and principles of decision-making used within them. Planning legislation is often codified in one or more acts of primary legislation at nation state level, with secondary legislation and government policy being updated more regularly. Within many federal systems, legislative powers are also vested at the sub-state scale. The extent to which substantive planning goals are embedded into the foundational legislation of a planning system varies. In some countries the ‘planning system’ is essentially a legal and institutional framework that simply makes possible the production of planning policy, plans, and other instruments at various scales, and imparts the legal status necessary for these to be used in the regulation of land use and consideration of other issues related to development (e.g. environmental impacts). In other systems core purposes and aims for planning may be more fully inscribed into the primary legislation establishing the planning system, or be given to planning to achieve by other legislation. Another important feature of systems of law which can shape the basis and operation of planning systems is the extent to which relevant law is consolidated into one, or a small number of, key pieces of framing legislation, or is fragmented in a larger number of individual legislative instruments, such as orders, or decrees, designed to address specific issues or agendas. This may lead to complex and sometimes contradictory sets of rules and regulations which can be challenging for the scholar of international planning studies to understand. Another issue is how contemporary and current the legislation and policy establishing planning is and how far it remains relevant to planning issues and reflects planning practice ‘on the ground’. In some parts of Africa, for example, the formal planning system reflects and mirrors the systems established by former colonial powers but development and planning in practice may depart from these (Yeboah & Shaw, 2013). As an activity which is established by, and embedded in, legal and administrative structures, the nature of the system of law, for example, whether there is a codified ‘civil’ legal system, a ‘common law’ tradition, or a combination of these approaches, also sets a context for how planning operates in different places. In civil law systems, decision-making is based on precise rules, codes, and ordinances, whilst in common law systems greater emphasis is placed on precedents set by court rulings which generate ‘case law’. In the latter systems, detailed interpretation of the

Law, Administration, and Politics


system (law and policy) is built up by precedent with the courts acting as the final arbiter in cases of legal dispute, and the law evolves based on these legal findings. States like the UK, the United States, and India follow the common law tradition, whilst the civil law tradition is practised in states like China, Japan, France, and Spain that adopt a more codified form of law which tends to be more explicit and detailed. There are also many legal systems which can be described as ‘mixed jurisdictions’ including Louisiana, Québec, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Indonesia, and Scotland. The term ‘jurisdiction’ as opposed to ‘state’ reflects the fact that there can be more than one legal system and tradition in one ‘nation’ state. In practice, the difference between these two traditions is more blurred; there are processes of convergence between the two traditions; and crucially for international planning studies, these distinctions do not always neatly account for the kind of planning which is practised in different countries. For example, though the nature of the legal system might impact the extent to which plans and policies are binding—and thus the discretion open to decision-makers—this relationship is not always as obvious as it may seem at first sight (see Chap. 5). Furthermore, there are also other forms of law around the globe such as customary law and religious legal systems which set the context for how planning systems are established and operate (see Chap. 5, Fig. 5.1). It should be remembered too—as discussed below—that, in many parts of the world, a large proportion, or a majority, of development occurs informally and is unregulated by the legally established planning system (McGill, 2020). The ideas and themes above provide a context for international planning studies and have influenced some of the key ‘heuristics’ used to characterise planning systems in comparative studies as discussed in Chap. 5. Today there is also a growing need to consider the context that international law and agreements provide for planning. A key issue here is the extent to which these set ‘binding’, or more informal, ‘non-binding’ goals and benchmarks for planning. This is typically linked to the character of the institutions under whose auspices they have been developed and agreed, for example, whether these are supranational, or intergovernmental. Relatedly, there are issues about what kinds of monitoring and what systems of enforcement, redress, or sanction for non-conformance are in place. These are themes returned to in Chaps. 6 and 7.

Planning, Politics, and the State The configuration of administration, law, and planning in different states reflects different choices and values. It affects distributional questions such as who gets, what, why, when, and how. In being a practice of spatial governance, planning shapes where the benefits and disbenefits of development accrue—it is therefore intrinsically political. This has been increasingly recognised since the mid-­twentieth century as the political and substantive value-based and power-related nature of planning has been emphasised alongside its technical and formal rationality (Allmendinger, 2017; Forester, 1989).


3  Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies

Experience of planning practice, critiques of planning from certain ideological and political positions, and developments in disciplines such as political science have highlighted the centrality of questions of political legitimacy to public actions like planning which are typically justified as serving a public interest. Authors such as Scharpf (1999) have conceived of political legitimacy in ‘terms of two normative criteria: output effectiveness for the people and input participation by the people’ (added emphases). Schmidt (2013) has developed the additional notion of throughput legitimacy which seeks to account for ‘what goes on in the ‘black box’ of governance between input and output’. This ‘consists of governance processes with the people, analysed in terms of their efficacy, accountability, transparency, inclusiveness, and openness to interest consultation’. For Schmidt: ‘These normative definitions of legitimacy pick up on Abraham Lincoln’s famous dictum about democracy requiring government by the people (political participation), of the people (citizen representation), and for the people (governing effectiveness).’ In summary, political legitimacy derives from ‘three democratic legitimising criteria’: • Input (‘government by and of the people’)—are the wishes of the governed represented, as ascertained through different consultative mechanisms? • Output (‘government for the people’)—are decisions effective in serving the interests of the governed? What is ‘the problem solving quality of the laws and rules’? • Throughput (‘government with the people’)—are people involved on an ongoing basis in governing choices and decisions? In examining planning internationally, it is useful to consider which kind, or kinds of, legitimacy it draws upon in different places within various kinds of state and welfare models. Contextual factors, such as different kinds of political system (e.g. democratic or authoritarian states), prevailing development level and conditions, the expectations of citizens, and views about what constitutes political legitimacy, have impacts on institutions and policies, including attitudes and approaches towards planning. Over recent decades various studies have examined the kinds of issues outlined above. Nadin and Stead (2008), for example, have explored the way in which European social and welfare models are related to national planning systems. Picking up themes of ‘context-dependency’ which reoccur throughout this book: Their starting point was the assumption that the form and operation of planning systems are embedded in their historical context, the socioeconomic, political, and cultural patterns which have given rise to particular forms of government and law, and that the social model underlies the contextual differences. This is exemplified particularly well in some countries where strong state intervention in spatial development was established as part of the postwar “welfare state”. (Stead, 2012, p. 27)

Law, Administration, and Politics


Table 3.2  Welfare and national economic development models and planning Model of welfare and national economic development Liberal market European social welfare Developmental

Exemplar states Australia, UK, and USA Majority of mainland Western European nations Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, China Predatory Some Latin American and sub-Saharan African nations, Indonesia Post-socialist/transition Russia, China, East and economies; East-Central European nations South Asian democracies ‘Born globals’

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh Middle East and Eurasian states, China, Dubai, Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), Shenzhen.

Planning Imaginationa Administrative efficiency Comprehensive and integrated Economic development and industry-sector-led Non-plan opportunism Mix of industry-sector-led planning legacy with variety of liberal market and European social welfare urban planning elements Formal urban planning as ‘victim’ of elite and grassroots informality Pick and mix of influences and practices

Source adapted from: Phelps (2021, pp. 136–137, 146–159). a Phelps’ notion of the ‘planning imagination’ sees planning as an ‘activity of imagination, with a stock of wisdom and an array of useful methods for making decisions and getting things done’ (2021, back cover). In this view ‘Urban planning emerges as an activity that has adapted to changing societal needs and desires, retaining an element of imagination while acting to bind a variety of actors and their interests in efforts to address the substantive challenges associated with human settlement around the globe’ (Phelps, 2021, p. 8)

Stead argued that there ‘appears to be reasonable correspondence between welfare state typologies and ideal types of planning systems’ and that ‘This is perhaps to be expected since the planning system is in part an expression of fundamental values in society in relation, for example, to the scope and aspirations of government, the use of land, and the rights of citizens’ (Stead, 2012, p. 27). In exploring ‘urban planning’s global variety’, Phelps (2021) considers how models of welfare and national economic development are reflected in contrasts between types of planning systems (Table 3.2). As indicated by Table 3.2 it is possible for states to exhibit more than one model of welfare and economic development—for example, China, which Phelps also discusses as a distinctive case (2021, pp. 156–158) due to the history, diversity, and complexity of urban settlement and planning it displays. The ‘Born globals’ category is also distinctive as it includes not just states, but certain cities whose development models dominate ‘symbolically or materially in terms of economic activity’ their ‘respective ‘national’ planning systems’ (Phelps, 2021, p.  158). Aside from these specificities, the wider contention is that the models of welfare and economic development identified, and the forms of political legitimacy they rest upon, contribute to conditioning attitudes, assumptions, and expectations about planning in different places.


3  Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies

‘Developmental states’ may thus seek legitimacy through delivering ‘outputs’ such as stable and high economic growth and improved living conditions, and related benefits like new infrastructure, and employment opportunities. Here the ‘legitimacy and powers of planning are strong given that governments are insulated from civil society, in some instances as a result of military dictatorship or de facto single-party rule’ (Phelps, 2021, p.  155). The acceptance of the state and planning may derive less from input and/or throughput legitimacy than from their ability to generate outputs which improve material economic conditions. For Phelps (2021, p.  155) therefore, ‘development states are characterized by the overriding substantive concern with economic development rather than, for example, environment protection and sustainability’. In countries which already enjoy relatively good living conditions where ‘the basics’ of safety, sanitation and key public services are broadly available, having been provided through previous cycles of development, legitimacy may also be seen as being about the government responding to citizens’  input and involving them in governing processes. Thus, Phelps (2021, p. 136) identifies citizens as leading actors in planning systems within states with ‘European social welfare’, or ‘liberal market’ models of welfare and national economic development. Different models and assumptions therefore set a varying context in different places which shapes attitudes towards planning, and how it operates—in ‘South Asian democracies’ and ‘Predatory Systems’, for example, for a variety of context-­specific reasons, formal planning control can be weak. The extent to which development occurs within the purview of the formal planning system is another key theme in international planning studies to which the chapter now turns.

Formality and Informality in Planning The definitions of planning outlined in Chap. 1 often presuppose that planning is rooted in formal institutional structures and practices and is effectively regulated through the actions of the state. However, across large parts of the globe informality defines the patterns of land use, and informal developments are critical for the functioning of the city. As Caprotti et al. (2017, p. 3737) observe, ‘The production of urban space in developing countries often has little to do with the efforts of planners’. This not to say that there are not forms of ‘planning’ which may be being practised, in ways which operate outside state-led rules and regulations. In planning studies there is a tradition of principally focusing on formal planning systems, processes, and practices. Informal development, which UN-Habitat defines as ‘development that is undertaken without going through a formal process of approval under planning legislation or complying with statutory building standards and codes’, has traditionally been perceived of as being intrinsically bad and as needing to be regularised (Hall & Pfeiffer, 2000). However, this view was

Law, Administration, and Politics


challenged by De Soto (1989) who saw the informal economy as being a positive aspect of urban growth, especially within the Global South and as ‘the people’s spontaneous and creative response to the state’s incapacity to satisfy the basic needs of the impoverished masses’ (p. 14). Such views recognise that it is informality ‘that is the primary mode of the production of 21st-century metropolitan space’ (Roy, 2009, p. 826). Over the next 20–30 years, with 90% of the world’s urbanisation likely to occur in Africa and Asia, the ‘challenges of an urban planet will be won or lost in cities of the global South’ (Parnell, et al., 2018, p. 8). This has led to calls for a ‘southern turn’ in planning thought as most fashionable planning theories have emerged from authors, and through publishing networks, in the Global North, primarily informed by understandings of Global North contexts, and it is only in recent times that this has begun to change (see Chap. 8). As Healey (2010, p. 19) remarks, this may ‘help to unravel the constraints that the hegemony of Western ideas has placed on our thinking about the nature, purpose and method of planning, it should also contribute to an internal renewal of planning debate in the ‘old heartlands’ of planning ideas in North America and Europe’. It may also help in locating the approaches to planning in documents like the New Urban Agenda (NUA) (see Chap. 6) in time and place and in developing understandings of their implications and how effective they might be (Watson, 2016). The evolution of thought and practice as regards informal development is a good example of how international planning studies can inform the wider development of planning thought and practice. With informality set to become an even more dominant development pattern in global terms, informal planning may become the ‘new normal’ to which planning practice and the planning academy will need to adjust. This has led a small, but influential, body of authors (Roy, 2005, 2009; Watson, 2009; Yiftachel, 2009) to argue that informal development needs to be reconceptualised, not simply as a planning problem to be solved, but understood and reconceptualised in terms of access rights to the city. Informal developments, it is argued, can provide access to affordable housing and employment, and planning should focus on providing access to other services such as water, energy, health, education, and communication, and a healthy environment. Those operating in informal systems are particularly adept at creating geographic and livelihood spaces of their own making, without any plan to assist them. Thus Caprotti et al. (2017, p. 374) argue that: Without romanticizing the free flows of informality, these are nevertheless tangible clues to planners and policy-makers that the city is already being planned, and the best way to optimize livelihoods is by working with these systems, not shoving them aside to make way for exclusionary investment, or worse, undermining them through overregulation and/or neglect.

Indeed, many informal settlements might already be creating an idealised urban form which is an aspiration of the compact city/new urbanism advocates (see Box 3.1).


3  Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies

Box 3.1  Sustainable Urbanism and Informality in Cairo, Egypt

Within much ‘western’ and Global North planning literature there has been a growing advocacy for sustainable urbanism, which advocates ideas such as compact or smart cities and a new urbanism. Common themes emerge concerning the design or redesign of new and existing neighbourhoods, based on them being walkable, promoting green transport, connected, mixed use, high density, promoting quality of life with a sense of neighbourhood attachment. In 2019 Egypt’s population was estimated to be over 100 million and is growing extremely rapidly (in the last few years between 1.8 and 2.0% per annum). Most of this population is heavily concentrated along the Nile River. The population remains predominantly rural in character, with about 38% or about 40 million people being classified as urban. There has been, and continues to be, rapid growth in the Greater Cairo Metropolitan Area, the 16th biggest metropolitan area in the world. Eighty-one per cent of the informal, or slum, areas in Cairo are located on privately owned agricultural land (Osman, et al. 2019). In total over 16 million people live in informal (slum) areas across Egypt and over 400 of these areas have been designated as being unsafe, with 35 requiring immediate and urgent action because of the life-threatening conditions of these area. These areas have, however, been planned and developed in an informal manner, because the formal system has not been able to cope with the demand for development. More than 60% of Metropolitan Cairo’s 20 million inhabitants live in informal areas, and many of these neighbourhoods, despite being informal in nature (i.e. not regulated by formal planning processes and procedures), demonstrate many of the critical characteristics of sustainable urbanism. This is not to say that these communities are perfect, but that rather than being seen as a problem as has traditionally been the case, perhaps they have something to teach about sustainable neighbourhood living. The demand for affordable and accessible housing has driven the need to illegally build on agricultural land originally in the urban fringe, but soon expanding beyond the urban centres. In sustainable or ‘new urbanism’ terms, what many of these illegal developments exhibit is very positive: • A defined neighbourhood—defined edges and an internal character shaped by land subdivision patterns. • Compact and high-density levels—typically of 890 persons/hectare which encourages walkability. • Mixed use development—business and retail activities usually located within the primary streets encouraging people living in the neighbourhood to be largely self-contained, meaning many people do not need to travel outside of the neighbourhood except for some work, health care services, and higher education purposes. This also extends to housing provision, because homes are community built and shaped by community needs, and there is usually a variety of housing styles and sizes. • A high degree of self-organisation and community participation—all developments in terms of housing and basic housing are delivered through community efforts, which provide a firm basis for organising further neighbourhood enhancement (Khalil, 2010).

The Influence of International Contexts and Trends on Planning


 he Influence of International Contexts and Trends T on Planning The influence on planning of the phenomena, themes, and trends explored above, and the global, supranational, and transnational settings discussed in later chapters, is an area of enquiry in international planning studies. A key framing question is whether, subject to international influences including the promulgation of normative goals for planning by certain international organisations, and the cross-­ fertilisation of concepts and practices, over time, planning systems, policies, and practices will tend to converge and become more similar, or conversely if ‘context-­ dependency’ means that planning in different places will remain unique, making convergence more limited, or even leading to divergent approaches. The theme of convergence of planning systems, policies, and practices has been quite extensively debated in Europe where there are many planning systems in a relatively small area of the globe, and roughly half the states belong to a supranational organisation, the EU (see Chap. 6). In the 1990s Davies (1994, p. 69) postulated that the planning systems of the countries of the EU were exhibiting ‘a gradual convergence of planning policies and practices’ as a consequence of mutual learning and cooperation at the regional and local levels of government, and suggested that ‘[e]vidence for this is already beginning to be apparent’. Conversely, Nedovic-­ Budic, Tsenkova, and Marcuse (2006, p. 14), in discussing development patterns in Central and Eastern Europe, following the end of Communism and access to the EU, felt that convergence ‘though fostered by mass communication and culture and the extensive flows of goods, capital and people, as well as by grand regional (pan-­ European) policies…, remains more of an intellectual notion than a concrete reality’. Stead (2012) provides a synthesis of this debate, examining the drivers and inhibitors of greater convergence, or ‘harmonisation’, of planning in Europe. He suggests that these processes are complex and the interplay between converging and diverging trends can lead to countervailing tendencies of convergence and divergence being evident in different places simultaneously. Although the conditions in large parts of Europe are distinctive, notably as many states belong to the EU, the trends and themes of analysis which have developed around convergence there can be usefully developed to have wider relevance. In the next section we draw on such ideas to offer some reflections on trends towards ‘convergence, divergence, or constancy’ (Stead, 2012), or what Hamedinger (2014) terms the ‘fixity v. mobility’, of planning approaches as a theme of enquiry in international planning studies.

Drivers of Convergence The processes of globalisation discussed earlier in this chapter may lead to greater homogeneity of planning systems, as they adapt to attract mobile international development investment, which may perceive how planning systems operate as being a facilitator or barrier to development (Ward, 1999). This might relate to policy goals, policy instruments, and styles. For example, the policy goal may be to attract mobile global investments, through the creation of similar policy


3  Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies

instruments, such as development zones and freeports, but the policy setting, policy styles, and policy outcomes may result in differences, as some places become relative winners. Such analyses of the impacts of globalisation often also identify the ideology of neoliberalism with its favouring of free market capitalism, rather than an interventionist or welfare state model, as an important factor driving convergence. Inspired by such perspectives, it is argued that public sector planning is often challenged on the basis that it is a barrier to investment due to burdensome bureaucracy and ‘red tape’. This may lead to similar, or ‘convergent’, attempts to ‘deregulate planning’ in different countries—for example, states with a ‘liberal market’ model of welfare or national economic development (Phelps, 2021, p. 136). Yet, attributing too much influence to neoliberalisation as a driver of convergence may also reflect an attempt to ‘read the world’ through a relatively provincial ‘north-western’ lens. Globalisation is also characterised by the rise of other forms of states—notably developmental and post-socialist states in the ‘global east’ (Müller, 2021). Here economic objectives and development actors are often highly influential, but certain forms of planning are also privileged and highly valued. As ever in international planning studies nuance and context are important in drawing conclusions. Bodies such as the UN, EU, and governments are becoming increasingly aware of ‘global planning challenges’, in the sense of both planning-relevant issues that have an impact at a global scale (e.g. climate change, poverty, migration, and economic growth) and more specific planning issues that occur across different global regions and in different nations. As a result, normative planning goals and aspirations have been developed which seek to address the social, economic, and environmental injustices and contradictions that development can create, and recognise that land is a scarce and valuable resource, which needs careful management. Since the Brundtland Commission in the 1980s sustainable development has been a leitmotif of various agendas down to the present UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda (see Chap. 6). Examining how this might affect the goals of planning and whether it leads to a convergence of approaches, or if the practices of planning remain as divergent as ever, is a rich field for international planning studies to explore. Whilst there may be a consensus between nation states about what should be done, many of the resulting agreements are non-binding, and individual nation states retain the absolute authority to shape their own planning practices in any way they see fit. This issue relates to the notions of supranationalism and intergovernmentalism discussed earlier, as how far states are willing to pool some of their sovereignty to address issues which can be more effectively addressed collectively/multilaterally, can affect the influence of any resulting legislation and policies, and therefore any trends towards convergence of planning approaches. Learning from international experience has long been a feature of planning practice as discussed in Chap. 2. Today the ‘transnational flow of knowledge and expertise in the planning field’ (Healey, 2010, p. 1) often reflects a pursuit of ‘best’, or ‘better’, practice examples, responding to planning challenges, or opportunities to

The Influence of International Contexts and Trends on Planning


enhance local competitiveness and is an important aspect of international exchange. Resulting processes of policy transfer and mobility are thus one potential driver of convergence of planning approaches. The initiative of international and supranational organisations also provides a context for such exchanges. The EU, for example, has long promoted the idea of policy exchange, whilst UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda emphasises that planning problems faced in many countries can be alleviated through the sharing of ideas and experiences of what works and why, and equally importantly awareness of what local factors may impede effective implementation. Policy transfer and mobility are driven not only by international organisations, and nation state governments borrowing ideas, but by other stakeholders, including multinational corporations exporting development models from one place to another, city and regional authorities networking and learning from one another, or NGOs with an interest in specific issues promoting particular solutions based on experiences in different countries. The exchanges discussed above have attracted academic interest too. In planning, for example, there is a longstanding tradition of academic research into international policy exchanges, ‘learning from other countries’ (Masser & Williams, 1986), and the diffusion of planning knowledge (Ward, 2018). More recently, as the speed at which transfer occurs and its global scope have increased under conditions of globalisation, political scientists and geographers have also been drawn to study ‘policy transfer’, or ‘policy mobilities’ (Peck, 2011). The notion of policy ‘mobilities’ seeks to complement that of ‘transfer’ and aims to highlight the complexity of policy transfer, exploring how policy concepts are produced, travel, and change as a result of the wide range of actors, institutions, cultures, and spaces involved in translating a policy from one specific context to another (McCann & Ward, 2010). Table 3.3 summarises the key features of the policy mobilities and policy transfer approaches. Policy transfer is not simply a matter of copying or emulating the original policy approach, but a process of learning, reflection, and adaption. If undertaken uncritically it can lead to inappropriate, or even damaging, transfer, so it requires understanding of the specific ‘receiving context’ and any relevant differences in politics, institutions, built environments, and culture. Policies can be informed by existing Table 3.3  Policy transfer and mobilities Origins Focus Transfer Mode of explanation

Policy transfer Disciplinary: political science

Policy mobilities Transdisciplinary: anthropology, geography, urban planning, sociology, heterodox political science, comparative political economy, science studies ‘Successful’ transfers of Continuous transformation and mutation of a one idea to another place policy Diffusion from one location Relational connection across multiple locations to another and actors The continued existence of Contextually sensitive analysis of how and why a policy’s design features in the policy is assembled the new location

Source: Adapted from Peck (2011, p. 775)


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approaches and new innovations borrowed from other jurisdictions. This can involve horizontal borrowing from one town, or city, to another or vertical borrowing from a national government down to a local one, or vice versa. Understanding how policies travel, transform, and are adopted highlights the role of knowledge exchange in solving planning problems as well as the need to exercise caution in the transfer of policies from one place to another. A policy mobilities approach recognises that a policy cannot just be lifted from one location and transferred to another and that the policy transfer process is continual, rather than static, and relational, rather than a one-sided transfer (Cochrane, 2011). As a result, it is necessary to acknowledge that planning policies are socially produced over a long period of time by a range of actors who have particular interests in mind when developing them and are selective in what they might borrow from different locations so as to advance their particular interests. To explore this process, policy mobilities approaches focus primarily on three key concepts: assemblage, mobility, and mutation (Temenos & McCann, 2013). Assemblage considers the ways in which different components of a policy are put together by multiple actors drawing on their own particular knowledge and interests to advance a wide range of agendas (Allen & Cochrane, 2007). In this way a planning policy today is not developed by a single person from a single idea, but is an amalgamation of interests and concepts drawn from people and places all over the world, which is constantly emerging as different interests and ideas win out over others. Mobility not only considers the way policy ideas move, but also implies a wider acknowledgement that nowadays ‘nowhere can be an “island”’ (Sheller & Urry, 2006, p. 209) as towns, cities, and countries are linked together through all sorts of different connections to each other (personal, institutional, cultural, etc.). Therefore, policy ideas do not necessarily move directly from their origin to their destination through political, or bureaucratic, channels of government, but rather travel through all sorts of different spaces, including physical nodes such as airports, hotels, and train stations, and also through social encounters such as conferences, protests, and the internet (Temenos & McCann, 2013). This emphasises that planning policies may not necessarily move through formal government institutions, but rather can emerge from more informal encounters. Private interests such as international consultancies and property companies also promulgate policy ideas, new urban visions, and development plans sometimes couched in ‘globally circulating terms’ found within ‘the broader discourse on urban form’ such as ‘new urbanism’, ‘smart cities’, and ‘eco-cities’ (Watson, 2014, p. 216). Mutation accounts for the fact that as they travel and are assembled, policies mutate as different actors interpret and deliberately change them to suit their purpose. Mutation of planning policy occurs throughout the process as concepts are selectively communicated, or taken from their origin, diluted or expanded as they move, and are adjusted and integrated as they are assembled into a context-specific policy. The mutation process is ongoing as actors and institutions constantly modify

The Influence of International Contexts and Trends on Planning


the policy. Those who mutate the policies are not just lobbyists, or high-level government officials, but are also mid- and low-level bureaucrats and non-state actors who are entrusted with implementing and responding to the policy on the ground (Larner & Laurie, 2010). In trying to understand and trace policy mobilities the aim is to understand the detail of how policymaking occurs as well as how ideas travel, often with a focus on global exemplars and the ways in which such policies are localised. Important questions to ask about the original policy include what exactly is the policy, where did it come from, and what was it developed in response to? Who was involved in developing it? Why was it successful/unsuccessful? What difficulties were encountered in its development? How did it change from inception to final implementation? Once answers to such questions have been established, consideration can then be given to how the policy moved from its original location to be disseminated to another, or multiple places, who was involved in that process, how did the policy change during this process, and how did it come to be known in the new location? Finally, it is important to understand what aspects of the policy were drawn on in the new location. Who was promoting it locally and why? How was it integrated into the existing policy framework and planning culture? Is the focus of the policy still the same as in the original place? If not, why is it different? A policy mobilities approach aligns well with Nonaka and Takeuchi’s (1995) four-stage interaction model. They argue the transfer of knowledge begins with a process of socialisation where individuals interact directly with each other to discuss their practical experiences and knowledge in order to produce new knowledge. This knowledge is then externalised by passing it on to others within a larger group, or organisation, who then take that knowledge and combine it with current institutional and cultural practices within a location. Finally, there is a process by which the new knowledge becomes internalised within an organisation to form part of a new type of planning practice that is context specific to the location and its planning culture. This might be termed ‘hybridisation’ (Douay, 2015). In a study of the adoption of the Green City model as an urban strategy in Hanoi, Leducq and Scarwell (2020, p. 445, 447), for example, note that the city ‘is not content to merely look elsewhere for proven urban models—it aims to produce its own model with a particular type of urbanisation based on both international and local practices’ leading to a form of ‘Vietnamese green city hybridisation’. Policies which are perceived as successful are often imitated and generate fact-­ finding missions, presentations at conferences, and admiration on blogs and social media posts. This can lead to bureaucrats, think-tanks, and politicians undertaking a form of policy tourism to delve into the successes and struggles of implementing a particular planning policy, or inviting international experts to act as consultants on the development of policies and projects at home. As discussed in Chap. 2, this is not a new phenomenon in planning, but well-known cases in recent decades include Barcelona’s Smart City strategy, Vancouver’s approach to tall-buildings and urban design (Box 3.2), Curitiba’s bus rapid transit system (Box 3.3), and Baltimore’s


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waterfront regeneration (see Box 2.8). And whereas in the past much policy transfer occurred between the Global North and South, increasingly there are complex patterns and examples of ‘south-south’ (Box 3.3), ‘south-north’, and ‘east-south’ policy transfer and circulation. Brazil is a notable case of ‘south-north’ transfer (Porto de Oliveira, 2017). Historically the country was a ‘recipient’ of models and ideas diffused from elsewhere as a result of a ‘political legacy left by its colonial history, as well as its use of public administration models that originated in the United States and France’; ‘In more recent years, however, Brazil has become an exporter of policies such as PB’ (participatory budgeting) (Simon, 2021, p. 1). There are also an increasing number of instances of ‘east-south’ transfer. Schindler (2017, p. 59) observes, for example, that ‘China is at the forefront of urban development across Africa and parts of Asia, and the integration of cities into Sino-centric global production networks portends significant changes’, and asks, ‘how will the mobility of planning policy and knowledge from China affect cityscapes and the everyday lives of their residents?’ The ‘African urban fantasies’ vividly evoked by Watson (2014) reflect evolving patterns over time, as models and ‘imaginaries’ of urban development which have circulated, mutated, and become ‘hybridised’, across different regions of the globe, including the north and east, and other parts of the south, come to exert an influence on development plans and visions on the continent (Box 3.4).

Box 3.2  The Amman Master Plan, 2025

In 2006 the King of Jordan became concerned with the rapid expansion of high-rise buildings in the capital city of Amman. He placed a halt on new high-rise towers and installed a new mayor and made the decision to seek out advice from international experts on how to manage such growth. The firm Planning Alliance based in Toronto was brought to lead the development of Amman’s new Master Plan due to their work in Canada as well as in major African cities. The King’s direct eliciting of international assistance saw those experts imbued with a sense of authority as they sought to learn from their experiences. The King also specifically set out that the development of the plan was to be a collaboration between the international experts and Jordanian planners. The lead planner on the project was a Canadian who played a key role in selecting the people involved in the plan’s development, including a mix of Canadian planners and younger Jordanians who recently graduated from US universities. He was made a co-project lead along with a Jordanian planner, highlighting the collaborative nature of the project. (continued)

The Influence of International Contexts and Trends on Planning

Box 3.2  (continued)

Prior to arrival, efforts were made to ensure that the Canadian team understood and appreciated the existing planning and development process in Jordan with an eye to adapting to those processes rather than importing other ways of working. Workshops, design charrettes, and brainstorming events allowed knowledge exchange alongside more informal socialisation where the group of planners shared their individual planning experiences and built personal relationships. As Khirfan, Momani, and Jaffer (2013, p. 6) note in their research on this process, ‘one Canadian planner acknowledged that planning consultants do not necessarily know that their prescriptions may not fit into the local context and only through dialogue with local experts did it become increasingly clear to the Canadians that their preconceived notions of what constitute workable ideas must be amended to fit the local circumstances’. Through the socialisation process the co-created knowledge led to local ownership of the ideas as work on the plan spread out to other local actors through a range of different networks. These were formalised through the creation of purpose-built institutions designed to solidify those networks and transfer the authority over the plan’s development to the local level. This ultimately led to a merger of global and local practices which were fed into the plan. A key institution created as part of the Amman Master Plan was the Amman Institute for Urban Development, a not-for-profit organisation interested in urban governance, community planning, and sustainable community development. It eventually grew to include over 50 Jordanians with expertise in the fields of urban planning and design, sustainable development, social planning, economics, and governance as well as links to a range of international universities and organisations. While initially successful, it was shut down in 2011, in part due to a pressure from local ‘old-guard’ planners who did not agree with the institute’s intensification and sustainability ethos and the perceived threat that came from a rising, younger, highly qualified, mostly female, group of planners who were involved in the institute. As a result, the successful exchange of knowledge and development of the Amman Master Plan was ultimately dampened by the existing embedded planning culture. The plan went on to be awarded 2007 World Leadership Award for Town Planning and the Canadian Institute of Planners’ (CIP) award.



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Box 3.3  Bus Rapid Transit: From Columbia to South Africa

Study tours form a critical component of policy mobilities. A study tour involves delegates from one town, city, or country, travelling to another to experience first-hand a particular policy innovation. This allows them the opportunity to engage with a range of people involved in the development and implementation of a policy innovation or project in order to understand the potential benefits and issues they might experience when implementing it in their home locality. At the same time, study tours allow deeper professional and personal connections to be made which improve the circulation of best practice. An example of this is the introduction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in South African cities. BRT proved highly popular in the Columbian capital of Bogota when it was introduced in 2000, providing a lower-cost rapid transit alternative to metros/subways through the provision of dedicated bus lanes, quick boarding procedures, universal access, and high-frequency peak services. In 2006 as South African cities were exploring the introduction of BRT, delegates from a number of cities travelled to Bogota multiple times to learn from their experience. BRT was initially promoted in South Africa by two consultants who were key policy mobilisers—Lloyd Wright, an international expert on BRT, and Todd Litman from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. They were two key figures in arranging the Bogota visits and linking up the study tours to politicians and practitioners. A number of these trips were sponsored by two US groups—the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and the World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport— further highlighting the international extent of these excursions. The study tours included not just politicians and policymakers but also other stakeholder representatives. Key among them were taxi companies who had major concerns about the loss of business from the introduction of BRT. During the trip the different taxi operators not only engaged with those in Bogota, but also exchanged amongst themselves. The relationship between them shifted from being competitors to collaborators as they realised they needed to work together to influence the design and implementation of BRT in South Africa. They created a steering committee amongst the taxi companies that worked with their local cities rather than against them in the creation of BRT. The study tours also saw the development of relationships between South African cities. As each city sought to implement BRT they now had a wider network to engage and learn from within their own national context. The study tours also helped the delegates to recognise the contextual differences between South Africa and Columbia, such as the variations in the sociopolitical, geographic, and built form which would influence whether BRT could be implemented without a government subsidy—as it is in Bogota. On their return to South Africa, the relationships they made during the tours were maintained and allowed a continued circulation of knowledge between the two countries as well as between the delegates.

The Influence of International Contexts and Trends on Planning


Box 3.4  ‘African Urban Fantasies’

Vanessa Watson’s (2014) notion of ‘African Urban Fantasies’ captures the potentially detrimental impact of mimicking foreign approaches to development, not only when these are promoted through planning, but also when market rationales and associated ‘real estate forces shape not just city form, but deeply affect the quality of life of residents’ (Kumar et al., p. 24). Referring to plans being promoted for Africa’s larger cities she notes how future visions  for these cities ‘reflect images of Dubai, Singapore or Shanghai, although iconic building shapes from elsewhere in the world may be thrown in for good measure. And while the glass tower buildings and landscaped freeways suggest a revived Corbusian modernism, the accompanying texts also promise that these plans will deliver the more fashionable eco-cities and smart cities’ (Watson, 2014, p. 215). Her argument is that there is a mismatch between these promotional visions and their associated implementing projects and lived reality and that ‘they depart even further from African urban reality than did the post-colonial zoning plans’ (Watson, 2014, p.  215). In particular she notes how ‘these new urban visions and development plans appear to disregard the fact that at the moment, the bulk of the population in sub-Saharan Africa cities is extremely poor and living in informal settlements’. Furthermore, ‘Some of these settlements are on well-located urban land that is also attractive to property developers’ leading to ‘evictions and relocations’ of ‘vulnerable low-income groups’ (Watson, 2014, p. 216). Such visions, plans, and projects thus fail to consider the human and social dimensions of (re)development and raise issues of social justice. For Kumar et al. (2021, p. 24) they may also skew government funding ‘away from local needs of infrastructure, towards the needs of investors and new users of these developments’. They add that in ‘contexts with ‘conflicting rationalities’ and ‘deep difference’ such as that in African cities’ this can ‘deepen the existing divides and add new ones while exacerbating the existing vulnerabilities’ (Kumar et al., 2021, p. 24).

Drivers of Constancy or Divergence The context of globalisation and notions such as ‘policy mobility’ stress the relational and dynamic nature of relationships between cities and urban policy systems, with the convergence of planning approaches being one possible outcome of such processes. Counteracting forces of convergence, however, are a series of factors that sustain continued diversity, or even divergence, in planning’s approach in different places. These are emphasised in work that stresses the context-dependency of planning as a practice, and a number of concepts have been developed which engage with this reality.


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The enduring influence of cultures and context-dependency and the ‘formal and informal institutions that determine planning practice’ (Reimer et al., 2014, p. 1) is a key theme in the growing planning cultures literature (e.g. Knieling & Othengrafen, 2009; Sanyal, 2005). This focuses on how planning practices in different places, and the nature of the issues that planning is called-upon by society to address, are shaped by factors such as institutions, taken-for-granted routines, societal values and norms, history and political-economic settings, local politics, and actors. For Sanyal (2005, p. xxi) planning cultures encompass ‘the collective ethos and dominant attitudes of planners regarding the appropriate role of the state, market forces and civil society in influencing social outcomes’. Societal assumptions on such issues shape the ‘complex interaction’ of structures and ‘localised practices in spatial planning’ (Reimer et al., 2014, p. 3). These relationships also moderate any processes of international policy/best-practice transfer and mobility. For Hamedinger (2014, p. 25) it has thus become clear ‘that urban policies are not simply imported or implemented in certain local contexts, but that these policy models mutate in the course of movement and that they are … refracted through historically developed local/regional political and planning cultures as well as through the social and economic structures of cities or regions’. Planning cultures reflect national cultures, which are shaped by history, geography, socio-economic contexts, and legal frameworks, which in turn shape things like the scalar focus and scope of planning, the planning instruments used, and what may be perceived as policy innovation, best practice, preferred models, or policy failure. These cultural facets are critically important in helping understand why what appear to be similar policy instruments at a specific level may deliver different outcomes in different places. Planning culture not only imbues those who directly work in the planning system, but other actors and agencies that engage and interact with planning. It is therefore important to take into account not just structures but also the role of the actors and networks that populate and animate the institutional frameworks that are being studied (Zimmermann, 2009; Getimis, 2012). The professional culture of planning in different places also shapes how planners respond to reforms which place new demands on planning systems (Shaw & Lord, 2007). The propositions above may all sound plausible, but to fully grasp the implications of the cultural turn in international planning studies one needs to consider the questions—what exactly is culture and what is a planning culture? Culture can be defined in multiple different ways. For Knieling and Othengrafen (2009, p.41) ‘The essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas, ideologies and the values attached to them’. Schein (2004, p. 8) notes that ‘the most intriguing aspect of culture as a concept is that it points out to the phenomena that are below the surface, that are powerful in their impact but invisible and to a considerable degree unconscious’. Planning culture therefore can be thought of as a merger between the individual values and beliefs of planners with the wider institutional and political values of the society in which they operate. These wider values are often historically embedded within places and can form fundamental pillars of a planning system, such as the rights to property, concepts of equity, or ideas and expectations about

The Influence of International Contexts and Trends on Planning


democratic representation. This has led to calls for research into planning systems and practice to recognise their ‘context-­dependency’ (Sykes, 2008). Taken together, ‘planning culture’ therefore encompasses a multitude of ideas, and this makes an exact definition difficult; however, Knieling and Othengrafen state that it: might be understood as the way in which a society possesses institutionalised or shared planning practices. It refers to the interpretation of planning tasks, the way of recognising and addressing problems, the handling and use of certain rules, procedures and instruments, or ways and methods of public participation. It emerges as the result of the accumulated attitudes, values, rules, standards and beliefs shared by the group of people involved. This includes informal aspects (traditions, habits and customs) as well as formal aspects (constitutional and legal framework). (2009, p. 43)

Understanding the planning culture of a particular location can be a rather difficult task as it is often constituted by the unseen interactions and motivations of different actors rather than written rules or procedures. It might find expression in ‘the collective ethos and dominant attitudes of planners’ (Faludi, 2005), or ‘the values, attitudes mind sets and routines shared by those taking part in planning’ (Fürst, 2009). Perhaps in part due to this complexity, studies of planning culture are only a relatively recent phenomenon. One approach which seeks to frame the study of planning culture is the ‘culturised planning model’ (Knieling & Othengrafen, 2009) which structures the exploration of planning culture around three elements—planning artefacts, planning environment, and societal environment (Table  3.4 and Fig. 3.1). This model offers ‘An outline of how to approach the enduring phenomenon of culture and its impacts on contemporary spatial planning and development practices’ (Knieling & Othengrafen, 2009, p. 55).

Table 3.4  The potential categories of the ‘culturised planning model’ (Othengrafen, 2009, p. 93) Specifications Urban design and structures; urban plans; urban and regional development strategies; statistical data, planning institutions; planning law; decision-making processes; communication and participation; planning instruments and procedures; etc. Planning environment Planning semiotics and semantics; instruments and procedures; Shared assumptions; values content of planning; objectives and principles planning is aiming and cognitive frames that at; traditions and history of spatial planning; scope and range of are taken for granted by spatial planning (e.g. comprehensive planning v. planning; members of the planning formalised layers of norms and rules; political; administrative; profession economic and organisational structures) Societal environment Self-conception of planning; people’s respect for and acceptance Underlying and of plans; significance of planning; social justice; social efficiency unconscious; taken-for-­ or moral responsibility; consideration of nature; socio-economic granted beliefs; perceptions; or socio-political societal models; concepts of justice; thoughts and feelings which egalitarianism; utilitarianism or communitarism; fundamental are affecting planning philosophy of life; etc. Planning artefacts Visible planning products; structures and processes


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Planning artefacts visible planning products, structures and processes

Planning environment shared assumptions, values and cognitive frames that are taken for granted by members of the planning profession

Societal environment underlying and unconscious, taken for grantes belifs, perceptions, throughts and feelings which are affecting planning

Fig. 3.1  The culturised planning model (Knieling & Othengrafen, 2015, p. 2137)

Knieling and Othengrafen (2009, pp. 55–56) argue that when exploring the planning culture of a particular place planning artefacts are the ‘elements that can be easily recognised and understood’. They are the most visible expressions of planning practice that can often be traced back to specific institutions, plans, laws, specific planning documents, and ‘the public or private actors involved in planning processes’ (Knieling & Othengrafen, 2009,  p. 56). The planning environment is then likely to make itself known as an individual acclimatises to the particular professional objectives, rules and norms, and assumptions that guide planning practice in a specific context. Finally, the societal environment is perhaps hardest to identify as it represents the taken-for-granted beliefs and concepts embedded within broader society, but which are then reflected in the everyday practices of planners. The notion of planning cultures is complementary to work that seeks to identify ‘families’ of planning systems based on attributes such as legal systems, administrative traditions, state types, and social models (see Chap. 5). Such approaches took particular root in Europe in the 1990s and the 2000s, and led to the development of typologies of planning systems drawing on historical, legal, administrative, and institutional attributes, to classify planning systems with similar characteristics (Newman & Thornley, 1996; CEC, 1997). These approaches are often used in “classical” (Reimer et al., 2014, p. 2) approaches to researching planning systems, even if they are sometimes criticised for attempting to ‘read off’ too much about planning in different places from national formal legal and administrative structures. Getimis (2012, p. 26), for example, notes that many comparative studies of planning systems in Europe have tended to ‘emphasise different aspects of the institutional, legal and administrative contexts at one scale of analysis, mainly the national level, during a specific period’. As a result ‘comparative analysis remains static and does not allow an understanding of the ongoing transformations of planning systems and the important role that actor constellations play in dynamic terms’.

The Influence of International Contexts and Trends on Planning


The contextualised and ‘culturised’ approach to comparative planning seeks to take into account the issues outlined above in exploring the multi-scalar, culturally embedded, and dynamic character of planning systems. Planning culture is not seen as a static, but as a dynamic, phenomenon that is influenced by changes in society. This echoes Sanyal’s view that ‘the concept of cultural essentialism, in which culture is portrayed as static, homegrown, pure, and immutable is inaccurate’ (2005, p. 15—emphasis in original). Planning culture reflects this mutability, as it evolves and is influenced by a range of internal and external factors that result in distinctive and complex cultures of planning in different places. The concept of planning cultures thus has potential to enhance ‘characterisations’ of planning systems, notably within comparative studies (see Chaps. 4 and 5). But there are remaining questions, not least, how can the ‘planning culture’ in a given setting really be characterised and investigated? Nadin (2012, p. 4) notes there is an increasing recognition of the influence of the wider societal and cultural context on planning as emphasised in the work of Knieling and Othengrafen (2009), however, comments that ‘it has rarely found its way into comparative planning studies’. He concludes that planning culture is no doubt ‘fundamental to explaining planning practice’, but asks, ‘how can this be investigated?’ Reimer et al. (2014, p. 4) raise a similar point, arguing that whilst ‘recent comparative studies on planning cultures highlight important cultural aspects of planning, they lack operational and systematic methods of comparative analysis and remain at an abstract level’. Taylor (2013, p. 683) meanwhile observes that ‘recent work has embraced the concept of ‘planning culture’ as the basis for explanation, but that this work has lacked focus’ and ‘Quite different social phenomena have been conflated under the rubric of ‘planning culture’ with the effect of undermining its analytic traction’. Yet even if planning cultures can be difficult to precisely define and investigate let alone precisely ‘measure’, even a ‘general’ awareness of their influence is arguably still very valuable. A good example of this is when contemplating the dynamism, including any tendency to convergence, of planning systems. Reform of the systems, institutions, legislation, and policies of planning (‘planning artefacts’) can occur quite frequently in different states. However, changing embedded practices of all those who work in, or engage, or indeed do not engage with planning (e.g. those that seek to work outside the system through informal means), is often more difficult unless the culture and practices of planning also change (Shaw & Lord, 2007). And whilst reforms of formal planning legislation, structures, and policy do not always automatically beget ‘culture change’, it is also possible for aspects of planning culture to evolve in the absence of fundamental reform to the legal and procedural bases of planning. An example of the latter is provided by England in the 1980s, where, as Taylor (1998, p. 139) comments, ‘Thatcherism, whilst only tinkering with the legal instruments of planning control’ arguably ‘altered the whole culture of planning so that, by the end of the 1980s, planners increasingly saw themselves as partners working ‘with’ the market and private sector developers’. The behavioural and cultural dimensions of planning discussed above—including human capacity to effectively operate the planning system—are arguably under-­ emphasised in some accounts of ‘the mobility of certain urban policies and their


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conscious mobilization by local policy actors’ (Hamedinger, 2014, p. 25). With reference the literature on ‘policy mobilities’ Hamedinger (2014, p. 25) thus notes that ‘The role of ‘planning cultures’ in framing these processes of mobilizing and circulating policy models has partially been neglected in this discourse’. In practice cause-and-effect relationships between ‘mobile’ policies, and planning practices and cultures on the ground, are more difficult to untangle and less linear than they might at first appear. This is an area where international planning studies informed by a planning cultures perspective might seek to capitalise on planning’s strong interface with practice, to develop contextually situated, empirically rich, and nuanced accounts of how planning approaches may actually change in response to internationally circulating policy ideas and models. Another concept which is complementary to notions of planning cultures in exploring how planning evolves in response to international influences is ‘path dependence’. This has emerged in a number of disciplines and emphasises the importance of situating comparisons of current conditions and outcomes within a proper consideration of the historical evolution of particular places, problems, and policy responses. The path-dependency which contributes to shaping current development conditions, the nature of governance and policymaking, and the propensity of spatial planning policies and systems to change has also been noted in the literature on methods of comparative cross-national planning studies (see Chap. 4). Path dependence shapes the ‘receiving context’ (Sykes, 2008) for internationally circulating planning concepts and transnational policy goals, and alongside the value systems of the societies and populations in different territories, this can affect how far planning systems and approaches converge. As Stead (2012, p. 25) notes, path dependency can mean ‘that previous policy decisions which were more or less successful in the past will tend to be repeated, policy officials will tend to stick to well-known solutions and policy changes will tend to be incremental and kept to a minimum wherever possible’. This may tend to counter the tendency towards convergence putting a ‘brake’ on ‘convergence or harmonization of national and sub-­ national arrangements for spatial planning’ (Stead, 2012, p. 19). He also notes that some scholars take a ‘softer’ view of how defining the legacies of existing institutional set-ups and ways of doing things are in shaping ongoing change, preferring to refer to ‘path shaping’ (Stead, 2012, p. 25). He cites Hausner, Jessop, and Nielsen (1995) whose ‘approach to institutional change considers that choices are constrained by the path dependent context but that there are nonetheless a range of possible choices’ and ‘actors choose strategically “where to go” within the limits defined by inherited constraints’ (Stead, 2012, p. 25). Scholars of path dependence do not imply that nothing ever changes, but emphasise the importance of ‘contingent’ events that may initiate ‘institutional patterns or event chains that have deterministic properties’ (Mahoney, 2000, p.  507 cited in Booth, 2011). It has been argued that social structures and actors evolve in path-­ dependent ways because certain sequences of events may generate increasing returns, though it has also been noted that a given sequence may also generate decreasing returns (Gains et al., 2005 cited in Booth, 2011) which may generate pressure for change (i.e. actions or behaviours which deviate from the established path). Sometimes events on different paths may ‘intersect’—what Mahoney calls



‘conjectural moments’ (2000 cited in Booth, 2011). For example, Booth (2011) argues that an awareness of how sequences of events can reinforce or challenge patterns of behaviour and policy approaches leading to certain outcomes may enable analyses to advance beyond the important, but well-rehearsed, conclusion that ‘context matters’ and that different conditions and settings contribute to different planning cultures, urban problems, and policy approaches. What is clear is that historical context is important and existing planning institutions, systems and processes, the cultures of planning practice—both of those who work in and interact with the system—shape how planning responds to change. For Stead (2012, p. 27) ‘history matters or, in other words, options for institutional or policy change are narrowed by choices made in the past’ and ‘Present decisions are linked with previous situations because of the persistence of certain ideas and institutions through time’. Despite the commonly heard rhetoric of governments proposing radical reform of planning, the scope for change is thus deeply affected by existing institutional structures and established ways of doing things. This will affect the propensity of a system to reform and deliver new approaches. Furthermore, change will often also require that various other actors and agencies that engage with planning modify their behaviours and adapt to new planning systems and approaches. As Stead (2012, p. 25) observes, ‘According to path shaping perspective, changing or shaping attitudes and behavior is a potential means of influencing future development paths’. Finally, history matters too because different planning systems emerged at different points in time and have since evolved at different rates through varying cycles of reform, reaching different stages of maturity and effectiveness (see discussion in Chaps. 2 and 5). This is another reason why change—even that motivated by common international concerns and policy agendas—may produce, or even entrench, differences between planning systems and policy approaches, as present action and future goals are path dependent on, or at least ‘path shaped’ by, the legacy of past and existing institutional configurations and planning practices.

Summary This chapter has explored selected concepts relevant to international planning studies and suggested some themes of enquiry in international planning studies. A number of key propositions arise from the chapter. The ideas and theories which inform general planning studies are equally relevant to international planning studies. Different ideas and debates about planning which have characterised the evolution of the discipline, for example, regarding how far it should be informed by expert knowledge, and the role of collaborative approaches, different kinds of plans, and actors (e.g. state, private, civil society; formal or informal), all find an echo in international planning studies and the manner in which planning is conceived and practised around the world. This is not to say that there are not some concepts and ‘themes of enquiry’ that are particularly pertinent to and useful in international planning studies (see below).


3  Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies

Planning practice plays a particularly important role in knowledge formation for international planning studies. Planning practices in many global settings often outpace academic theorisations and generate innovation and experience which contributes knowledge to international planning studies. The dominance of academic discourse by certain global regions may lead to a ‘theory-practice’ gap as regards its relevance to the material realities of cities and development ‘on the ground’ in other settings notably in the ‘Global South’. This theme is returned to in Chap. 8, where the credentials of ‘planning as an international academic discipline’ are considered. Furthermore, it is not only practice within states that is important in shaping planning ideas and knowledge. International processes of policy reflection around urbanisation, development, and sustainability also generate key planning ideas, concepts, and perhaps even forms of international ‘planning doctrine’ (see Chap. 6). There is no ‘set menu’ of concepts and themes in international planning studies, but ‘themes of enquiry’ might be suggested. As explored in Chap. 2, planning thought and practice are shaped by historical context. Allmendinger (2002, p. 86) thus views planning theory as ‘socially embedded and historically contingent’ with concepts and ideas in planning being moulded by cultural, social, and political settings and not separate from, but part of, the societies they arise within. The latter are not static, but vary through ‘time and space, allowing for different formulation, interpretation and uses of theory’ in planning (Allmendinger, 2017, p. 29). This characteristic of dynamism means that there is no ‘set menu’ of theories in planning but an evolving ‘crowded landscape of theories and ideas’ (Allmendinger, 2017, p. 27). The evolving and historically contingent nature of planning thought can be seen in the key conjunctural’ (i.e. ‘of the moment’) themes of globalisation, global urbanisation, climate emergency, and sustainable development and resilience agendas which were reviewed in this chapter. These contribute to defining the ‘current and future urban challenges’ (UN-Habitat, 2009) which planning is called upon to address and which are explored in later chapters (see Box 6.3, Chap. 6). How humanity responds to these challenges, and the distinction between internationalisation as a profit-seeking facet of globalisation and internationalism viewed as an ethical stance of working with others multilaterally to find solutions which might preserve and enhance a ‘global commons’ and international public interest, were discussed. This is a theme which is relevant later in the book (see Chaps. 6, 7, 8, and 9). The conjunctural themes reviewed in this chapter also illustrate well how planning is always informed by its historical context, with a key characteristic of the present period being the relevance of scales and challenges ‘above and beyond the state’ to the discipline. The issue of scales of planning and international planning studies has therefore been explored, with emphasis being placed on varied terminology used to describe scales of planning ‘above and beyond’ the national state scale. These ‘scales’ of planning are reviewed from an international planning studies perspective in subsequent chapters. Potential issues in regarding scales of planning as self-contained and hierarchical were discussed, and the insights which can be gained



from engaging with notions of territorialism and spatial imaginaries in international planning studies were explored. The chapter also reviewed some ideas and concepts around legal and administrative systems, politics, and the state. The observation was made that planning systems are effectively part of the ‘rule of law’ and embedded in state and administrative structures. It was argued that an appreciation of the concept of political legitimacy is also important when engaging in international planning studies as the kinds of legitimacy which are privileged in different forms of state vary based on factors such as political tradition and development conditions. These themes are returned to in Chap. 5. The theme of informality was reviewed as an issue whose importance is essential to appreciate in international planning studies. With the majority of urbanisation in the present era, and for the foreseeable future, being located in regions of the Global South and East, across large parts of the globe urban informality will be a dominant form of development. A theme of debate is how far this should be conceived as a problem and attempts made to regularise, or even penalise, informal development, or whether a shift in mindset is required to recognise that it plays a crucial role in meeting the economic and housing needs of populations. Such themes are returned to in Chaps. 5, 6, and 7. The final theme considered the influence of international contexts on planning. Here different concepts and stances regarding the extent to which international contexts and trends promote the convergence of planning approaches, or whether there is constancy, or even divergence, were reviewed. Forces for convergence might include internationally ‘mobile’ planning and urban policy models, whereas constancy, or divergence, might reflect the enduring influence of structuring ‘fixities’— that is, institutions, taken-for-granted, values norms and routines, ‘planning cultures’ (Knieling & Othengrafen, 2009), and path dependencies. Although there has been quite a lot of interest in such issues over recent decades, Stead (2012, p. 27) notes that ‘Very few studies to date have provided a detailed examination of policy convergence in the area of spatial planning, especially across a wide number of planning systems’; adding that ‘Of the studies that do exist, policy convergence and divergence has not been the main focus of the research and a systematic approach to examine the various dimensions of convergence has not been used; in most cases, they have simply referred to policy convergence in a general sense’. As a result— and in an open invitation to existing and aspiring scholars of international planning studies—Stead concludes that ‘A great opportunity exists for new research to provide a more authoritative and comprehensive account of spatial planning policy convergence across Europe and beyond’. The themes of enquiry proposed within this chapter do not constitute a final comprehensive selection of ideas, or conceptual framework, for international planning studies. Rather, they are offered as points of entry to the subject with the perspectives previewed above being emphasised, nuanced, and complemented as appropriate, in subsequent chapters. Finally, it should be remembered that, like planning itself, international planning studies are dynamic, and new themes of enquiry continually emerge as the issues planning is called upon to address evolve.


3  Contemporary Contexts and Concepts in International Planning Studies

Exercise 3.1  Contemporary and Historical Themes in International Planning Studies?

Discussion: As noted in this chapter and Chap. 2 there is nothing new about international exchanges in planning. In light of this, does it make sense to think of ‘historical’ and ‘contemporary’ themes? Questions to consider might include the following: In what ways does the current international context for planning mirror, or differ from, previous periods when planning has been practised internationally and come under international influence? Is contemporary internationalisation driven by the same, or different, processes and actors as in the past? Are they any lessons from past episodes for the internationalisation of planning for planning today? How do the trends influencing planning today reflect ‘internationalisation’ and/or ‘internationalism’?

Exercise 3.2  Identifying Themes of Enquiry in International Planning Studies

Discussion: The chapter has sought to selectively identify a number of ‘themes of enquiry’ in international planning studies. However, there is no ‘set menu’ of concepts and themes. In light of this, how relevant are the themes identified here? Are there other themes which could also be important? Is it possible, or desirable, to think of ‘universal’ themes of enquiry in international planning studies, or is it more important to identify particular ‘context-dependent’ themes to guide enquiry in different parts of the world?

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Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies

Introduction International planning studies often prove to be very valuable and insightful. Yet, methodologically they can also be challenging, depending on their ultimate objective—for instance, gaining a general overview of planning in another country, or countries; learning about how a specific aspect of planning is addressed in one or more countries (such as housing, retail, flooding, conservation); whether the goal is ‘just’ general professional interest and enrichment, or to take lessons away to be applied in practice in another context. This chapter therefore considers research design and methods which may be applied to international planning studies and some of the issues to bear in mind in their use.

Research Design and Research Methods As Farthing (2016) notes, many terms are used to describe the components and stages of the research process. It is common, for example, to see reference to ‘research design’, ‘research strategy’, ‘research approach’, and ‘research methods’. Here we have opted to use the general terms research design and research methods. Research design for Yin (2003, p. 20) refers to the ‘logical sequence that connects the empirical data to a study’s initial research questions and, ultimately, to its conclusions’ whilst Farthing (2016, p. 2) notes that it is ‘concerned with much more than the selection of appropriate methods of data generation and analysis, important though these decisions are’. We concur and see research design as referring to the overall process of making strategic and reasoned choices about the overall structure and components to be included in an international planning research project—for example, is it to be a comparative project? If so, are case studies of different countries, regions, and cities to be compared? How will these be selected? How will they be compared? What data is required and how will it be collected and analysed? What are the practical and ethical considerations that need to be considered in conducting the study? © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 O. Sykes et al., International Planning Studies, Planning, Environment, Cities,



4  Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies

Research methods we perceive to relate to the discrete techniques of data collection and analysis which may be used in an international planning research project. For example, these could include statistical analysis, different forms of interviews, surveys, documentary analysis, and observation. Cutting across all these considerations are questions relating to the practical viability and ethical dimensions of employing different research designs and methods in different projects and settings. Whilst these may arise in any research project, the goal here is to examine where they are given a particular inflection when planning is being studied internationally. A researcher may have in mind an ‘ideal’ research design and preferences as regards methods, but if these cannot be operationalised this does not help much. Indeed, it has often been noted that the ‘best’ research designs and methodologies are those that provide the most valid and reliable results to a set of research questions in practice. Thus, attention to practical matters is also important in conducting research, perhaps especially so when it has an international dimension.

I s There Anything Distinctive About Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies? As with the concepts for international planning studies outlined in the previous chapter, it is possible to ask how far research design and methods used in international planning studies are distinctive from research design and methods generally used in planning studies. This question is given added salience by the ‘blurring’ over recent years of the distinction between general planning studies and international planning studies. This convergence finds an echo in handbooks on research design and methods—for example, a recent text on Research Design in Urban Planning by Farthing (2016) includes a chapter on ‘cross-national comparative research’. And as will become clear later in this chapter, many of the research strategies and methods of data collection and analysis that may be used in international planning studies are the same as those typically employed in the social sciences in general and, more specifically, in planning research. As a result, this chapter does not aim to duplicate the overview of research designs and methods in planning research offered by other sources (see Silva et al., 2015; Farthing, 2016), but rather seeks to highlight specific things to consider when undertaking planning research with an international dimension. Whilst many of the research approaches and methods used in international planning studies are similar to those used in ‘non-­ international’ planning research, applying them in the context of international planning studies often introduces new dimensions and issues to consider.

 esearch Design for International Planning Studies: Some R Things to Consider Referring more to comparative urban research, but equally pertinent to international planning studies, Kantor and Savitch (2005, pp.  136–137) point to four research design and methodological obstacles which may be encountered by (1) analysing a

Is There Anything Distinctive About Research Design...


sizeable number of debates and developments between cities while still providing depth of analysis; (2) accounting for different contextual meanings, especially across different cultures; (3) providing conceptual tools that can accurately address the same problem in different places; and (4) accessing, retrieving, and processing useful data from multiple jurisdictions. The sub-headings below address these and other themes and are expressed as questions, to which the following text aims to provide a reflective response.

Will the Study Be Comparative? Sometimes ‘comparative’ and ‘international’ research are discussed as though they were synonymous. Yet, as Hantrais (2009, p. 1) reminds us, ‘Not all international research is comparative, and not all comparative research is international or cross-­ national’. Similarly, Pierre (2005, p. 459) observes that comparative ‘analysis can be cross-national, but it can also be between two or several cities in the same country or even in one city studied throughout an extensive time period with changes in the independent factors such as institutional arrangements or central-government policies vis-à-vis the cities’. Similarly, not all international research is comparative either and ‘Many international projects result in the production of a series of parallel studies that may, or may not, have applied the same methods, and that may, or may not, have been conducted using a comparative research design’ (Hantrais, 2009, p. 4). In planning research too, as Farthing (2016, p. 193) notes, Masser and Williams (1986) clearly distinguished ‘between studies of planning in specific foreign countries and comparative planning research’. If the goal is indeed cross-national comparative study, there are some common pitfalls to avoid, for example, remembering to conduct an effective comparison as opposed to telling two, or more, separate ‘stories’. Conversely, even when the goal is not explicitly stated to be comparative, the ‘gaze’ of the researcher from one context examining how things are done in another will often be shaped by assumptions, concepts, and experiences derived from their own ‘home’ context. This will often inevitably colour how the issues or policy systems being studied are understood and regarded. Masser’s (1986) ‘foreign culture model’ (Fig.  4.1)—in which knowledge of one’s home country informs the questions and approach adopted in considering the other country, or countries, to be studied—acknowledges such influences and suggests a sequence which might be followed in cross-national research. Thus, the design of a comparative study may be informed by the conceptualisation which supports a research aim and is informed by prior knowledge and experience of a country with which one is more familiar. For example, the presence of a particular planning issue, or problem, in one’s own context—housing provision, transport integration, land value capture etc.—may spark curiosity in how other societies and their planning systems address these issues. This initial ‘domestic’ motivation for exploring a given topic may then guide subsequent choices in research design for a study, for example, the refinement of themes of enquiry and research questions, or the selection of particular case studies from the other country(ies) to be studied.

88 Fig. 4.1  The foreign culture model of cross-­ national research (Masser, 1986, p. 18)

4  Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies The foreign culture model of cross-national research Prior knowledge of home country

Research Design

Fieldwork in foreign country

Comparative evaluation

This model makes explicit the stages which may lead towards international planning study perhaps helping to address the ‘view that previous comparative studies might have asked more searching questions about the approach taken’ (Nadin, 2012, p. 3), notably as regards: • What is it that should be compared that would give a meaningful understanding of similarities and differences? • How can valid and reliable comparisons be made between countries, cultures, and languages when concepts do not travel well across national boundaries? • How can researchers control for their own world view? • Are there generic or universal concepts of planning that are not tied to particular places? Responses to these and other issues can be found by considering further questions like those discussed next.

How Will the Study Be Conceptualised and Contextualised? One theme in international planning studies is the contrast between universalist and more particularistic and context-dependent views of planning concepts and practice. This is an issue which often needs to be considered in the research design of an international planning project. Although conceptual frameworks may provide a setting for research, many contextual factors typically must be considered in exploring spatial trends and policy responses to certain planning and development issues. For example, the varied institutional and governance contexts and different scales and competences of local and metropolitan governments in different countries studied.

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The notion of ‘functional equivalents’ (Kantor & Savitch, 2005) has been employed in previous comparative studies as one way of enabling research to take place. However, great care is needed to avoid assuming direct comparability of specific institutions between different national and subnational contexts. The different contexts being studied need to be addressed adequately so that an accurate picture can be built up of the nature of key institutions, policies, and programmes in different countries, and oversimplifications and misplaced assumptions of direct comparability, or equivalence, can be minimised (see Box 4.1). Yet whilst it is important to recognise the distinctiveness of planning in different contexts there is also a need to guard against what Kantor and Savitch (2005, pp. 139–140) have termed ‘conceptual parochialism’ which may overemphasise the incommensurability of planning institutions, policies, and programmes in different places. To overcome this Kantor and Savitch (2005, p. 148) argue, for example, that ‘the study of comparative urban development does not need to await consensus on a single and compelling theoretical definition of the field in order to support systematic multi-city research’ and that some concepts may have a more universal relevance than others.

Box 4.1  The Importance of Understanding and Accounting for Context in International Planning Studies: A Good Example of a Bad Comparison!

A newspaper article published in 2015 provides an example of how comparison can go awry (Rees, 2015). In it the author argued that ‘Paris is formally planned’ and went on to compare the city with apparently ‘gloriously un-­plannable’ London. Anyone familiar with urban governance and planning in the two cities will immediately detect some confusion here. The author seemingly had in mind a relatively small part of metropolitan Paris—the historical core, or ‘Paris, intra muros’. This has been extensively (although not completely) planned, and replanned at different times (see Box 2.2, Chap. 2), often according to the principles of axial planning, and it is this relatively small part of metropolitan Paris that largely defines its image. The author’s understanding, or perhaps imaginary, of ‘Paris’ seems deeply shaped by this area, but lacks an appreciation of the spatial/physical, economic, social, cultural, and environmental diversity and wider metropolitan reality of the city. This fundamentally undermines the validity of the comparison. In essence a narrow definition of one place—the Ville de Paris (Paris city council area)—which is effectively the ‘city centre’ of greater Paris is being compared with a more expansive definition of another—the conurbation of Greater London. An awareness of institutional geography is thus important, if meaningful, comparisons are to be made in international planning studies. A knowledge of history and context is also crucial—for example, even if a wider metropolitan perspective were adopted in the case of Paris and London, a linguistic faux ami (false friend) could be generated by any translation of Grand Paris into ‘Greater Paris’ and an assumption of equivalence with the structures of governance for ‘Greater London’. (continued)


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Box 4.1  (continued)

Source: /, Open License

How Can the Study Focus and Questions Be Defined? Following on from the issues discussed above is the issue of how a research focus and relevant research questions can be defined. Previous literature provides some useful pointers on this. Thus, in order to enhance the feasibility and methodological rigour of cross-national research, Sharpe, writing in 1975, suggested that cross-­ national planning research should be guided by two principles: those of ‘maximum similarity’ and ‘maximum discreteness of focus’. ‘Maximum similarity’ suggests that ‘like must be compared with like’ if comparisons are to be valid, for example similar cities or regions in different countries. The second principle, ‘maximum discreteness of focus’, suggests that the focus of the research should be tightly drawn, for example, around a discrete issue or policy approach, in order to reduce the complexities of research and to aid the framing of achievable research questions and objectives. In relation to the first principle, however, Williams (1984, p. 159) notes that ‘it may not always be possible to design research projects around theoretically ideal comparisons’. It is arguable therefore that:

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Excessive concentration on maximum similarity could lead to reducing the potential for the stimulus of totally new ideas: taken to its logical conclusion it may mean that English researchers should use Scotland for comparative study. I suggest that maximum similarity should be taken to apply only to a specific planning problem, the approach to which is being studied in a comparative way and not the national context.… It is, I suggest, much more important to adhere to Sharpe’s second law of maximum discreteness of focus, and my reinterpretation of his first law approaches this. (Williams, 1984, p. 157 emphases added)

He suggested therefore ‘that maximum similarity should be taken to apply only to a specific planning problem, the approach to which is being studied in a comparative way and not the national context’ (Williams, 1984, p. 159 emphasis added). It is therefore justifiable to compare cities, or areas, that are not similar in every way, as long as this is acknowledged and the analysis is not based on the premise that they are (Williams, 1984). In essence, it is suggested that the ‘maximum similarity’ rule should apply to the planning issue under consideration and that the second principle of ‘maximum discreteness of focus’ is the key to successful cross-national research rather than the search for general ‘constants of culture, administration, and statute’ which do not apply (Booth, 1983, p. 2). Indeed, variations in such contextual factors may be key in influencing the kind of policy challenges that arise and how they are addressed by different planning systems. To enhance the feasibility of cross-national research and undertake meaningful comparisons it is therefore suggested that the ‘maximum discreteness of focus’ rule needs to be adhered to in clearly defining the research focus around the spatial trends, policy processes, and impacts to be studied within different countries. This can aid with formulation of well-defined research objectives and questions whether these are more exploratory or explanatory (Farthing, 2016).

Will the Study Design Be Symmetrical? A further issue which arises in conducting cross-national research is the ‘symmetry’ of the research (Williams, 1984). This relates to whether a similar structure and level of coverage will be pursued in each country. This may be a choice influenced by the particular resources and skills (e.g. in languages, see later in this chapter) of an individual researcher. Larger studies may adopt the ‘parallel teams’ approach (Booth, 2015, p. 90) in which ‘researchers from the countries to be compared’ work on their domestic contexts within a common conceptual and comparative framework. Such collaborative studies are often able to adopt a symmetrical structure (see Box 4.2), but Williams feels that this is not always appropriate in the case of individual research projects and that ‘an asymmetrical structure or presentation of the findings may be appropriate, since so much general knowledge of the home country can be assumed’ (1984, p. 158). This means that research does not always have to be exactly ‘symmetrical’ in terms of crude measures such as the word length, or number of pages, dedicated to different


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countries, but rather that it is the treatment of different settings which needs to be of a broadly equal standard, depth, and quality in terms of the adequacy of the descriptive and analytical accounts it provides. Box 4.2  A Research Design for Comparative Study of Reurbanisation in Western Europe Project aim—to consider and compare spatial trends and policy approaches connected to reurbanisation and suburbia in North-west Europe in four highly developed countries. Stage 1 Initially the research involved establishing the trends towards re-urbanisation in metropolitan areas within each country and their impacts on the ring of suburban areas since the 1990s, using available official statistics. Each research team used the available and relevant national data sets from their respective national contexts which best captured the spatial trends relating to re-urbanisation and suburbia. Stage 2 This stage considered how national and/or regional and metropolitan policies have addressed the core–ring dimension, and whether dynamics within the urban fringe were being addressed at all. This required a more qualitative form of analysis based on reviewing institutional structures and the content of policy documents and other relevant sources that could shed a light on the policy/political treatment of the issues under investigation. This required attention to context, an appreciation of which is seen as key to comparative research, whether carried out across ‘national, cultural, or societal boundaries’. Although the conceptual framework provided a setting for research overall, many contextual factors had to be considered in the study’s exploration of trends and policy responses to re-urbanisation and its effects on suburbia. Care was taken not to assume direct comparability of specific institutions between different national and subnational contexts—for example, métropoles in France and Combined Authorities in England. Stage 3 Here two metropolitan areas in each country—one prosperous and one less economically buoyant—were studied in more detail. Relevant statistical data, specific strategies, and outcomes in the core and ring were reviewed. This reflected an awareness of the need to consider potential differences within the individual countries and between different kinds of areas. Stage 4 The conclusions of the work were drawn together in a comparative consideration of trends, policy orientations, and implications for theories ‘in’ and ‘of’ metropolitan planning. Source: Dembski et al. (2021)

How Will Language Issues Be Considered in the Study? The inherent ambiguity of terminology and issues of translation and comprehension across cultures and languages has been described by Williams (1996) as the ‘Tower of Babel’ problem. An as Kunzmann (2019) has argued, whilst English may have

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become established as a key language of international exchanges around planning research and professional networks, the language of practice in different settings, both of practitioners and of citizens, remains ‘local’. As a result of this international planning studies therefore often require an ability to read documents in the language of the country(ies) to be studied and to be able to speak the local language sufficiently well to undertake meaningful interviews with those involved in, or affected by, the planning system and processes. This is an important issue to consider if the long-mooted theory–practice gap in planning is not to be prised even wider in the majority of planning contexts where English is not spoken and used in administration and debate around planning issues. From the beginnings of widespread cross-national research in planning, the importance of being able to read documents in the language of the study country in order to understand nuances of meaning and interpretation has thus been emphasised (Eversley, 1978 cited in Williams, 1984, p. 158; Williams, 1996). Ideally those working on researching a country should have some native language ability which allows them to read relevant documents in the original language, for example, this was certainly the case for the research design cited in Box 4.2. A related issue is that of translation for purposes of understanding. Translations need to aim to reflect the sense and meaning of foreign language terms as they are employed in planning rather than being simply literal translations of words. And though translation software makes acquiring a basic understanding of texts written in another language easier today than in the pioneering days of cross-­national planning research, the literal translations of terms it often produces still do not necessarily give the exact sense of what words mean when used in a given (planning) context. After all, even within the same language, professional jargon sometimes deploys words in ways which have specific meanings removed from their ‘everyday’ usage. Another challenge is the proliferation of translations. As far as possible where previous research has discussed similar themes, and the same institutions and policy instruments, it is advisable to try and use the translations adopted in the interests of consistency and comparability (assuming the previous translations are accurate of course!). It is also good practice to use ‘home language terms’ for policies and institutions following an initial translation of their meaning for purposes of understanding. This follows the convention established in much writing on European spatial planning from the 1980s onwards (CEC, 1997) and aims to avoid the confusing proliferation of diverse translations of the same terms, and relatedly to better connect with, and accurately represent the context being studied (CEC, 1997) (Box 4.3).


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Box 4.3  When Is a Local Plan a Plan Local d’urbanisme and When Is It Not?

A local land use plan in France is termed a Plan local d’urbanisme (PLU). A well-known online translation programme renders this as a Local Urbanism Plan. This is a linguistically accurate translation, but confusion could arise, for example, if a similarly titled instrument existed in another planning setting where the English language is used. An observer from this context may not unreasonably assume that the similar naming implies that the French instrument is fairly analogous to the plans they are familiar with from their own context. But this may be a misleading assumption. Similarly, an observer from England may think that the comparable, if not exactly the same, naming means that a ‘PLU’ is simply the French equivalent of a Local Plan—which is only partly true in terms of the nature of the two instruments, notably as regards how these ‘local plans’ are used as decision-making instruments in the respective regulatory (France) and discretionary (England) planning systems of each country (see the discussion of different kinds of planning system in Chap. 5). To avoid oversimplification and to try and minimise the potential for misunderstandings, it is therefore often advised that, once a translation (and perhaps some information to describe the nature and purpose of a planning instrument) is provided, it is best to use the original language terms. For example, if one wanted to write about local planning in France, it would be better to use the term PLU. This would aid non-French speakers, researchers, and planners who may want follow-up examples and learn more—which they will find by looking for information about PLUs, not ‘Local Urbanism Plans’. It would also aid French researchers and practitioners who might take an interest in international research on planning in France published in English to engage with such research.

 ow Far Will the Formal, Informal, and Cultural Aspects H of Planning Be Considered? As Masser and Williams (1986, p. xiv) note, ‘cross-national comparative research raises questions such as national culture, language, institutions of government and law, political divisions, and evolution of urban structure’. This means that ‘spatial planning systems are not exclusively dependent on the legal-administrative systems, but also on the different socio-economic, political and cultural structures and dynamics prevailing in each country’ (Reimer et  al., 2014, p.  2). Approaches to planning cultures seek to recognise that there are both ‘formal and informal institutions that determine planning practice’ (Reimer et al., 2014, p. 1) (See discussion in Chap. 3). Thus, ‘The formal institutions include particularly the legal and administrative fundaments of spatial planning, while the informal institutions primarily comprise the cognitively anchored patterns of perception, beliefs, shared values and behaviour of the actors involved’ (Reimer et al., 2014, p. 1). Studies may therefore seek to derive insights from both the ‘planning systems’ and ‘planning cultures’

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perspectives. Such considerations are significant in shaping problem definitions and responses in different national and subnational settings. For example, ideas about the importance of managing phenomena such as urban sprawl, or actively promoting re-urbanisation, may vary from one country to another based on a host of factors beyond the social and physical manifestations of such trends. In some contexts, policy debates may be framed in specific terms whose meaning may be rather culturally and context specific and require some explanation to non-domestic audiences. For example, a policy goal such as ‘urban renaissance’ in England in the 1990s and 2000s took its meaning from a specific socio-historical context in that country. Its import may be less clear to an outside observer if it is not contextualised thoroughly  especially given the more common association of the term the Renaissance with the flourishing of thought and culture across Europe from the 15th to the 16th centuries.

 ill Planning Be Considered as a Static or Dynamic W and Evolving Phenomenon? For Reimer et al. (2014, p. xv) the ‘classic’ comparative analysis of planning systems can be contrasted with approaches that focus more on transformations of planning systems (Reimer et al., 2014, p. xvi). The latter recognise that the institutions, policies, and practices of planning evolve over time and do not remain static. When studying planning internationally it is important to recognise this, especially when seeking to access information which relates to planning in other countries. There will be a concern to ensure that comparisons are as up-to-date as possible and do not create depictions of aspects of planning which have changed, or been reformed and are now out of date. This is also important as sometimes there are stereotypes which develop about planning in particular places, which circulate as familiar tropes in academic publications, conferences, and teaching. Sometimes these relate to how ‘planning was’ in a place, not how it is organised and practised today.

 ill the Study Be Sensitive to the Multi-scalar Nature of Planning W Issues and Practices? The previous paragraphs point to the importance of an awareness of different national settings in international planning studies. But there is a need to be conscious, too, of potential differences within individual countries being researched— for example, between regions or cities with different economic, environmental, and social contexts and/or institutional structures. As Hantrais (2009) notes, in the context of social policies, most ‘are framed at national or supranational level, but they are more often than not implemented at local level, thereby offering scope for identifying regional and local disparities in delivery’. Similarly, Wollmann’s (2000) comparative analysis of the ‘path-dependent’ development of local government


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systems in Britain, France, and Germany shows how this was a result of an interplay between ‘central-level legislation’ and the practices of local government. Equally in urban policy and planning a national policy may play out, or be applied differently with varied outcomes in different regional, city, or neighbourhood contexts within a given nation state. Reimer et al. (2014, p. 3) thus warn of the potential problem of focussing on the national level of analysis as a basis for comparison of planning systems. This they term ‘methodological nationalism’ which may underplay or overlook the fact that planning systems ‘are differentiated at different scales’ (Reimer et al., 2014, p. 3). This becomes particularly the case, for example, in federalised states where the national level may play a role of setting some general framework policy orientations, but the competences and tools of planning may be principally held and exercised at the level of the constitutive federal states or regions. There is thus a need to account both for the influence of the national, regional and local contexts when undertaking international research and avoid conflating local elements with national ones, or speaking of ‘local and national practices without bothering to distinguish between levels’ (Sellers, 2005, p. 431). To aid this appreciation, Sellers (2005, pp.  432–432) suggests adopting ‘de-centred analysis’, with localities, or urban regions, as the ‘units of analysis’ in a multi-level analysis which distinguishes the impact of national legislative frameworks, funding schemes, and policy programmes from local decision-making—effectively an invitation to consider the use of case studies. The approach in the study alluded to in Box 4.2 sought to take this approach into account by considering the national trend and policy context in relation to re-urbanisation in each country as a prelude to the evaluation of experience and policy in two metropolitan areas within it.

Is There Value in Using Cases in the Study? Case studies frequently constitute a key component of international planning research, often in the context of cross-national comparative studies. Furthermore, even if they are not necessarily ‘case studies’ in the sense in which researchers may use the term, ‘examples’ of previous plans and projects also exert a considerable influence over planning practice, including in the context of international planning policy agendas (see Box 4.4). Emblematic cases have always played a big role in the circulation and diffusion of planning ideas around the globe (see Chaps. 2 and 3 for examples from planning history and discussion of policy transfer and mobilities). In urban design practice it is also common to see design frameworks which feature ‘precedent images’ of previous projects, often from other countries. Some emblematic cases become almost axiomatic examples—Freiburg, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Curitiba. One of the valuable roles of international planning scholarship could be to delve into such examples in more depth to understand how contextual factors like institutions and cultures have shaped their emergence and may account for their reported  success. This is  particularly important if policy transfer of certain

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approaches is being contemplated (see discussion in Chap. 3) or if certain examples and experiences of planning are being promoted as good practice (see Box 4.4).

Box 4.4  The Power of Example: International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning—Towards a Compendium of Inspiring Practices

As part of the elaboration of International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (IGUTP) UN-HABITAT commissioned a set of illustrative case studies to inform a Compendium of Inspiring Practices. Through this process an Expert group developed ‘a sample of 26 international experiences in urban and territorial planning’. This is described as providing ‘a cross section of inventive, ambitious and unique cases that address common issues of urban and territorial development and highlights successful examples of how urban and territorial planning can reshape countries and regions towards more sustainable development’. Interestingly from a research design perspective the case studies are described as ‘unique’ and also as addressing ‘common issues’. They are also seen through the prism of the IGUTP as demonstrating the importance of the key planning principles promoted in the Guidelines. Each local example embodies the four main pillars of urban and territorial planning outlined in the IGUTP (see Chap. 6) by using progressive policies and governance, integrating spatial strategies with wider development goals, and delivering coordinated implementation to positively influence the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of cities and regions. Source: Aldon et al. (2015).

Yin (2014) considers the case study to be a research strategy as opposed to a method, and this is how it is considered here. Given that ‘context-dependency’ is commonly considered to be a key feature of international planning studies (see Chap. 2), then a research strategy which is specifically orientated towards understanding phenomena within their context unsurprisingly has a special place in such studies. In particular as one of the benefits of case studies is often stated to be the opportunity to study a phenomenon where the boundary between it and its context may be unclear. As Flyvbjerg (2011, p. 301) notes: case studies focus on “relation to environment,” that is, context. The drawing of boundaries for the individual unit of study decides what gets to count as case and what becomes context to the case.

There are many different kinds of cases (Denscombe, 2007; Flyvbjerg, 2011; Hague et al., 2019; Yin, 2014; Farthing, 2016), so one question in a research design for an international planning study in which cases will be used is what kind of case study/ ies will be used and for what purpose (see Table 4.1)? As noted above it is very important not to mix up national-level factors and those at other scales when undertaking international planning research if interpretations and comparisons are to be valid. This is important as case studies in international


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Table 4.1  Types of case study 1. Extreme/ deviant cases 2. Maximum variation cases 3. Critical cases 4. Paradigmatic cases

To obtain information on unusual cases, which can be especially problematic or especially good in a more closely defined sense. To understand the limits of existing theories and to develop new concepts, variables, and theories that are able to account for deviant cases. To obtain information about the significance of various circumstances for case process and outcome; for example, three to four cases that are very different on one dimension: size, form of organisation, location, budget, etc. To achieve information that permits logical deductions of the type, ‘If this is (not) valid for this case, then it applies to all (no) cases’. To develop a metaphor or establish a school for the domain that the case concerns.

Source: Flyvbjerg (2011, p. 307)

planning studies could be, for example, of different planning systems, specific plans, or policies, planning processes, solutions to substantive planning issues, cities, regions, or individual projects ‘on the ground’. Many case studies will be of the ‘embedded’ kind (Yin, 2003, p. 40), meaning that the specific planning phenomenon of interest may arise within a number of contexts. For example, an example of successful planning to increase resilience to flood risk may derive from contextual factors at different scales such as the local, city, regional, and national scales. Thus, the outcome will probably not just be explainable by the planning system in place nationally but by a host of other contextual factors, or independent variables, across different scales. This may be obvious if two different local areas within the same country, or even the same city, have experienced very different results. Of course, the case study is also frequently used comparatively in planning research even within the same national context—for example, to compare different cities or regions, or perhaps neighbourhoods. In light of such issues, Sellers (2005, p. 440) notes that ‘When the units are cities rather than countries, comparative case selection follows a more complex logic’ and ‘Researchers must take both national and subnational variables into account’. Thus, in selecting cases and making comparisons one needs to be clear about which factors, or variables, may impact a planning outcome that may be distinctive to a given context or locality like a city and those which may derive from the national context—for example, the wider planning system. In research design terms this relates to the need to specify the unit of analysis, or the object of research—for example, is this a specific city or other territory; a type of plan; the planning system as a whole; the general societal response to a particular planning issue (if so how far is the planning system an ‘independent’ variable which can explain this?). The selection of the cases may then need to take into account case-specific variables; for example, in the study mentioned in Box 4.2, one prosperous, and one less prosperous, metropolitan region was chosen per country on the basis that level of prosperity could be a variable explaining differential processes of re-urbanisation. The selection of cases may thus involve multiple stages in an international planning study. The issues outlined here also imply that there is a need to give careful thought to how cases will be analysed, especially if comparison is to be undertaken. One issue which can often arise is how any within-country comparisons will be related to any cross-national comparisons which may be attempted. Thus, in the study previously

Methods for International Planning Studies


mentioned (see Box 4.2), comparison between the more prosperous and less prosperous city regions within each country was a prelude to the wider cross-national analysis between the countries studied. Such comparisons can begin to support analysis of issues such as whether the contrast between prosperous and less prosperous city regions is greater in some countries than others (and related to this how differing national policy frameworks may affect this), and whether there are perhaps commonalities between the different kinds of city region across the countries studied (e.g. are there similarities in the dynamics at play in prosperous city regions in the different countries?).

Methods for International Planning Studies This section considers some of the methods of data collection/generation and analysis that may be used in international planning research. These include some of those commonly described in the literature on research design and methods. They draw on different research paradigms which reflect different ontological and epistemological assumptions, quantitative and qualitative, and mixed, or integrated, methods and approaches (see Hantrais, 2009, Chap. 5). The debates about the relative merits of different approaches have a bearing on the appropriateness of different methods to international planning studies, but are not rehearsed extensively in this section. Rather, these are alluded to where they raise a particular issue relating to the appropriateness and application of the methods reviewed.

Official Statistics Statistics provide a core building block on which many international planning studies are based. King et al. (1994, p. 44) argue that ‘good description is better than bad explanation’, and the complexities, skills, and need for awareness of subtleties, associated with qualitative and mixed methods approaches to international planning studies, can make statistics seem an attractive option. Indeed ‘Extensive’ and secondary quantitative data sets are much used in research and practice and sometimes used to develop indexes—for example, most liveable city indexes. They are key too to the monitoring of progress under planning-related agendas like the UN’s SDGs and New Urban Agenda (see Chap. 5). These initiatives have created a need for and an interest in the collection of such data. Furthermore, as Booth (2015, p. 92) notes, it could be assumed ‘that if direct comparison is part of the research, then statistical data provide a surer basis for comparison than written or oral record’. However, he also goes on to note this can be a false assumption as ‘apparent similarities conceal considerable differences in what is actually being measured’ (2015, p. 92), particularly as concepts and the categories of data collected to ‘capture’ them may also vary greatly—for example, what is the threshold for a small, medium, or large settlement in different countries? Which morphologies and densities are considered to characterise ‘urban’ or ‘rural’ areas (see Carrière et  al., 2007 cited in Farthing, 2016, p.  203)? Within comparative studies the use of ostensibly objective


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descriptive data sources is thus often complicated by a lack of comparability across national boundaries and statistical agencies (Box 4.5). As Van Dan Berg et al. (1982, p. 50) note, use of such data can be ‘hampered’ by: • The lack of synchronisation between national censuses; • The lack of standardised data among national censuses; • The fact that the available data do not relate to standardised spatial units. This makes it virtually impossible to compare small areas; in measuring urban change and population movements appropriate geographical units are indispensable; • The fact that, because of differences in national statistical systems, some variables, such as commuting and employment structure, are available for a limited number of countries only.

Box 4.5  Studying Reurbanisation in Western Europe—Data Challenges

Many of these issues arose in the study on reurbanisation in north-west Europe mentioned in Box 4.2 previously. In this study comparison was challenging because of administrative differences and data availability. For example, the territories of French cities are much smaller than their counterparts in the other countries. English cities, with some exceptions (notably Leeds), in turn are smaller than German and Dutch cities. Within the countries, the size of local authority districts can differ substantially too, which is particularly relevant if this applies to core cities. France and the Netherlands have statistical definitions of functional urban regions, while in England it was necessary to rely on administrative city regions, and in Germany no readily available geographies exist for functional urban regions. Then the lack of readily available and consistent small area data presented a problem in countries other than England and the Netherlands. Conversely, the lack of resident registration in England meant that population data between census years had to rely on estimates. Another ‘work around’ had to be found to address the much smaller size of the core local authorities of French city regions in comparison with their German, Dutch, and English counterparts. This was to combine data from the core local government area for each conurbation with that for the immediately contiguous surrounding local authorities. This worked quite well in one of the French case study cities giving an area approximating to the core urban area of the city region, but less well in a second case. These caveats had to be taken into account and reflected upon in the comparisons undertaken. Further problems encountered were finding comparable data: different housing systems meant that directly comparable data is not publicly available; the social data collected in the different countries is different too; and more qualitatively it was difficult to compare planning and urban policies directly—for example, England had large substantially supported national programmes, yet in the other countries local authorities have a stronger financial position and generally more autonomous control over their planning and urban policies.

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Documentary Analysis The review and analysis of documents is a core method in social science research with qualitative discourse analysis, and quantitative content analysis, being used, sometimes in combination, to establish the content and interpret meaning of documentary sources. Documents can therefore be used as ‘a source of data in their own right’ and as an ‘alternative to questionnaires, interviews or observation’ (Denscombe, 2007, p.  227). Though typically thought of as being written texts, documents can also be visual sources like films, or sound sources like recordings, or physical artefacts. The use of documents is seen as having a number of advantages in that they are permanent and can be reviewed repeatedly by different researchers, they are typically pre-existing sources and do not have to be created by the researcher bringing advantages in terms of the time and costs that need to be dedicated to data collection, and they can often be used to construct ‘longitudinal’ accounts of conditions and events over time in different settings (Yin, 2003; Denscombe, 2007). When the historical method is used in international planning studies, documentary analysis can, for example, enable process tracing, and the identification of path dependencies and critical junctures, across time (Hague et al., 2019; see also Chap. 3). As with all methods there are also some limitations and potential pitfalls to be aware of in using documents which can take on a particular significance in international planning studies. One issue is the need to be ‘discerning’ (Denscombe, 2010, p. 244) about the credibility of sources and aware of any potential bias they may contain. This requires the historian’s sensitivity to the context in which certain documents were produced, their intended purposes, and the motivations of their authors. Planning agencies and governments, for example, quite often produce accounts of planning systems, brochures promoting inward investment and development opportunities, or documents like statistical ‘year books’. These may be specifically targeted at an international audience and produced in languages such as English. As a result, these can be very valuable to researchers especially those without the language of the country being studied. Such documents are by no means necessarily biased, or misleading, but the researcher should maintain a critical stance in using them and seek to ‘triangulate’ the data presented with that gleaned from other sources (see further discussion later in this chapter). Another issue, again familiar to the historian, is that many documents will have been produced ‘for other purposes and not for the specific aims of the investigation’ (Denscombe, 2007, p. 245). This means that the data they contain may be interesting, but not directly relevant or valid in relation to the issue being studied, needing to be complemented with that from other sources. In contrast, some documents may be bespoke—that is, produced for the purposes of the study (Farthing, 2016). These could include typed-up interview transcripts, or case study reports from project partners in different countries, which are then interpreted and integrated into a main report by a ‘lead partner’ (e.g. as in the ‘parallel teams’, approach described by Booth, 2015). The latter approach may be useful where the lead partner does not have the language competence, or detailed knowledge and insight on a planning issue, of locally based researchers.


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Similarly, any images, or sounds, to be analysed may be created for the project, or ‘found’ (pre-existing), with each type raising certain issues to be considered. If one is seeking to create new images, for example, through photography, or filming, thought will need to be given to whether this is permitted, and issues of privacy. As Denscombe (2007, p. 240) notes, ‘Forethought needs to be given to the legal and cultural context within which data collection is to take place to minimise the risk that filming or photography of specific objects will be regarded as an offence or as offensive’. Using ‘found’, or pre-existing, images may be less problematic on these counts, but may raise different issues of copyright and whether the images are authentic depictions of reality. In an era where there is growing awareness of the circulation of fake and distorted information through social media, and the Internet more generally, these are important issues to consider especially if the researcher has not been able to visit a context themselves (for example, to conduct observations). Other issues to consider with the use of documents which gain a particular salience when researching planning internationally include the issue of language which has already been alluded to. Whilst it may be true that ‘More sources are appearing in English’ (Farthing, 2016, p. 203), most planning documents are still produced in the local language of the planning context. International students sometimes ask if it is acceptable to use documents in their native language as sources in essays and dissertations. Clearly the answer must be yes as some kinds of planning research would be unviable, if this were not permitted. But care needs to be taken with the accuracy of any translation of specific planning terms and their contextual meaning may need to be verified. Furthermore, the range of documents which are in the public domain varies from one state to another—for example, sometimes access to planning-related documents like Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports is restricted. Finally, as with all forms of data, the interpretation of documents can be very subjective depending on the position of the evaluator. Planning documents in different countries often have a different format and appearance, for example, in terms of the amount of mapping, or visualisation, and text they contain, and the role they play in the planning system. Evaluators from different planning cultures may therefore interpret them differently.

Data from People: Interviews and Questionnaires As Farthing (2016, p.  201) notes, ‘people are important data sources who have country-specific knowledge and who can report on what happened, and why it happened’. Interviews and questionnaires are consequently commonly used methods of collecting data from people in social science research. Interviews are often preferred where in-depth information is sought which may relate to complex issues where it is difficult to fully pre-define and code the categories and specific items of information which may be relevant. With the right selection of informants, the researcher can gain rich and valid insights which would be difficult to acquire by other means. Interviews also provide an opportunity to corroborate conclusions gained from other sources such as statistics and documents and can allow the researcher to clarify the understandings they have gained from these and probe ‘why’ certain things are the way they are—for example, why does

Methods for International Planning Studies


a city have a particular policy on a given planning issue; why has a certain project stalled? They also have the potential to give the researcher an insider perspective on issues from those directly involved in a planning issue or process, and may provide relevant insight into the future which is not yet available in other sources. There are some issues to consider when using interviews in international planning studies. These might include differing cultural traditions, ideas about status, and views on privacy. Great care needs to be taken in ensuring that ethics and associated aspects of informed consent are appropriately and culturally considered (see also the Section “How Will Language Issues Be Considered in the Study?”). The so-called interviewer effect where the presence of the researcher and issues such as their identity, gender, age, appearance, and status may affect the responses of the interviewee to questions perhaps needs to be considered even more carefully in an international context. Language issues need careful consideration, especially if the interviews are not conducted by individuals fluent in the language of the interviewee. Unintended bias and misinterpretations of questions and responses are commonplace, and may be exacerbated by the use of interpreters. This introduces a third party into the communication and may lead to ideas being ‘lost in translation’, especially if the interpreter is not familiar with planning language (think how many lay persons in one’s own country may not be very familiar with planning terms). These issues may detract from the validity and reliability of the evidence gathered and steps need to be taken to mitigate this wherever possible. Finally, there are some practical issues relating to the feasibility of undertaking interviews. Whenever interviews are to be used, even in one’s own home setting, a key challenge is often finding enough people willing to be interviewed. Again, this may be something which varies from place to place, for example, where there are planning controversies, in some settings, officials or citizens may be reluctant to speak to a researcher. Even if interviews can be arranged the time commitment and costs of conducting interviews are often seen as a potential drawback of the method. If empirical work is being done internationally these factors could be even more significant, though possibilities increasingly exist to use online video communication  platforms to overcome some of these issues. Finally, to justify the time and potential financial cost of interviews, there is need to use them efficiently to gain valid and reliable data which cannot be gained in other ways. This often requires careful preparation and sequencing in the research design with other available sources of data being reviewed first to build up a picture of the issues. There is little point, for example, in travelling a great distance to ask questions which could be answered by use of pre-existing documents or statistics. Indeed, asking an interviewee such questions may sometimes elicit the response, “See our website/plan!”. Questionnaire surveys are another key method of gathering data from human subjects. They are preferred when the goal is to gain information from a large number of ‘respondents’ on issues about which clearly defined and understood questions can be asked. Questionnaires are often very popular with researchers, including students, as they are seen as a very efficient way of gathering easily analysable data quickly, and cost effectively. But this apparent ease of administration can mask some issues to consider, which take on a particular salience in international planning studies.


4  Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies

An important issue is the design of the questionnaire and the need to frame clear and unambiguous questions. This can be a challenge in one’s own first language, but if the questionnaire needs to be administered to a relevant population in another linguistic setting, extra challenges can be faced. Simply using translation software could be a highly risky strategy which may backfire. A poorly translated and incomprehensible questionnaire is unlikely to be well received, or completed. Achieving a good response rate is key to the successful use of the method, especially if statistical generalisation to a population is planned. Another issue is that questionnaires, in being more predefined than interviews, often tend to reflect the things that the researcher thinks are important about an issue or setting. This can arise in any context, but when designing a questionnaire to gather information about planning in an international context with which one is less familiar, it might be a particular issue. The risk is that information from respondents is ‘shoe horned’ into categories the researcher thinks are important, but which do not reliably reflect the real conditions, or issue in a given context. In summary, whilst the questionnaire is an often a favoured method, it is easy to underestimate the issues involved in using it effectively. These need to be considered if a questionnaire is to avoid producing disappointing results with limited value and credibility.

Observation and Ethnography As Denscombe (2007, p. 207) notes, observation offers researchers a way of collecting data which ‘draws on the direct evidence of the eye to witness events first hand’ and is based ‘on the premise that, for certain purposes, it is best to observe what actually happens’. In planning research, it may also offer a way to survey through observation certain physical aspects of the built and natural environment, as well as human events and behaviours—for example, how planners work and planning meetings. The two main approaches to observation used in the social sciences are systematic observation (or ‘direct’ observation, Yin, 2003, p. 86) and participant observation. Systematic observation is often associated with the generation of quantified data that may subsequently be analysed statistically. It is often conducted with the use of an observation schedule which contains a ‘list of items something like a checklist’ (Denscombe, 2007, p.  209) to record, for example, the frequency, timing, and/or duration of events of behaviours. For example, a public meeting on a large and controversial development project could be observed to gauge which stakeholders were able to speak and for how long, and the interaction between different participants such as politicians, planners, the public, and developers; to record certain ‘environmental conditions’; or things like the ‘condition of buildings and workspaces’ which may ‘indicate something about the climate or impoverishment of an organization’ (Yin, 2003, p. 92)—for example, what might the observable facilities available to a local planning office, or perhaps an indigenous community group, suggest about their resources and capacity to engage in planning?

Methods for International Planning Studies


Participant observation is a form of observation in which the researcher is not ‘merely a passive observer’ but may ‘assume a variety of roles’ and ‘may actually participate in the events’ or settings being studied (Yin, 2003, pp. 93–94). It has been used in planning research, to investigate planning practice as it actually occurs (Kitchen, 1997), and has the potential to generate ‘information about cultures or events which would remain hidden from view’ (Denscombe, 2007, p. 217) if other methods were adopted. Observational techniques thus have considerable potential to enrich studies of planning in an international context. Not least as ‘being there’ seeing and experiencing places and processes first hand can provide a level of contextualised understanding that goes beyond reliance on other methods. But in undertaking observations there are a number of issues to bear in mind. Given that the whole point is to try and observe things as they naturally are, or might ‘normally happen’, there is a ‘major concern to avoid disrupting the naturalness of the settings’ (Denscombe, 2007, p. 207, added emphases). This means that as far as possible presence of the observer should not ‘alter the situation being researched’ (Denscombe, 2007, p. 207). This can be an issue in both kinds of observation and could be heightened when undertaking international planning research. For example, a researcher from one country may wish to undertake systematic observation of a planning meeting in a country which is linguistically, economically, culturally, ethnically, or racially different to their own. Their ability to ‘fade into the background’ (Denscombe, 2007, p. 215) may be affected by their presence as a fairly obvious ‘outsider’—how could the researcher be sure that this had not affected certain behaviours, or even outcomes of the process being observed? Sometimes it may be possible to mitigate the disruptive effect of the researcher’s presence with judicious choice of clothing and making sure one’s behaviour does not draw attention. In the case of participant observation similar issues could arise around the naturalness of settings. This is related to the issue of whether participation of the researcher is ‘total’ or ‘covert’ (essentially going ‘incognito’ into a setting); known to some key figures, or ‘gatekeepers’ in the setting; or if the researcher’s role and identity in the setting are openly acknowledged. The first of these may be seen as being the least disruptive of the ‘natural setting’ but also potentially  raises some ethical issues around deception of those being studied (see later in this chapter). Another issue with observation which may be particularly relevant to international planning studies is the issue of perception. This concerns the extent to which the researcher’s observations may be coloured by a range of personal, cultural, even psychological factors and whether different individuals observing the same thing would perceive it in the same way. Variations in this could affect the reliability of research findings, especially if observation is to be done by a lone researcher rather than multiple observers whose observations and interpretations can be cross-­ checked with one another. When conducting international planning studies such issues can be particularly salient. For example, if the goal is to observe ‘overt behaviours’ (Denscombe, 2007, p. 214) then it would need to be recognised that styles of


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interpersonal interaction and discussion differ between cultures. An observer from a place where meetings even on controversial planning issues may be rather staid and formal and much business is done ‘behind the scenes’ may be surprised to observe such a meeting in a cultural setting where people perhaps interact more freely and ‘vocally’ and things seem more tumultuous and explicitly contested (this could also extend to how the observer interprets non-verbal behaviours). If the research questions of the study addressed issues such as ‘how democratic and collaborative is the planning process in countries x,y,z…?’ then great care would need to be taken in interpreting the data generated by such observations. Another issue in the use of observations is access to settings, as ‘the researcher has to be present or participate in the setting, and this means finding some way of gaining access to that setting’ (Farthing, 2016, p. 132). This can be an issue in one’s home country, but seeking to gain access to a setting in another national, or cultural, context may be even more complicated. As Farthing (2016, p. 202) notes, ‘access problems for students studying planning abroad are likely to be more salient than for studies at home’, though he adds that these may be attenuated by ‘staff contacts with facilitators in the country concerned’, and sometimes international placements as part of degree programmes offer an institutional support framework that may facilitate observational opportunities. Even if access is gained attention is needed to issues such as the representativeness of the setting which has been accessed to avoid potential bias and ‘circularity’ in findings. For example, some planning agencies may be quite open in general and to the ‘observer-researcher’, but if this is the exception rather than the rule in a given country, then great care would be needed to not generalise findings in a way that may give an inaccurate account of wider practice. There are also practical and feasibility considerations in using observations as a method. These may relate to issues such as how much time and financial resources might be needed to support the undertaking of observations in the field, and the language capabilities of the researcher (Farthing, 2016, p.  202). Bunnel (2016, p. 185) notes that now ‘travel and communications’ are relatively easy by ‘historical standards’ and this means that there may be possibilities to engage in observational work such as ethnographies other than through an extended period ‘away’. Finally, observation in some contexts may bring with it certain physical, psychological, and ethical risks and challenges which need to be considered.

Triangulation and Mixed Methods According to Denscombe (2007, p.  108) the term ‘mixed methods’ is used to describe ‘research that combines alternative approaches within a single research project’ it refers to: a research strategy that crosses the boundaries of conventional paradigms of research by deliberately combining methods drawn from different traditions with different underlying assumptions. At its simplest, a mixed methods strategy is one that uses both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Research Ethics for International Planning Studies


Such approaches are often associated with ‘triangulation’ which involves the use of two or more different methods, and sources of evidence, to study the same phenomenon. This reinforces the validity of findings by cross-checking, or corroborating (Yin, 2003, p. 99), the data collected. The use of different methods can allow their relative strengths to be harnessed, and their relative weaknesses to be compensated. In international planning studies adopting an integrated mixed methods approach could help address possible gaps in the availability of relevant research data, or difficulties in gaining access to settings, or research informants. Triangulation through the use of ‘multiple strategies’ can thus add ‘breadth and depth’ in comparative and other international studies, notably combining the strengths of different traditions and forms of data and analysis. As Hantrais (2009, p. 117) observes: the combination of approaches within and between paradigms is all the more valuable in research that crosses national, societal and cultural boundaries due to the great complexity of the phenomena under study in a variety of sociocultural and political environments.

International planning research frequently requires a pragmatic approach to research subjects and questions and often cannot afford to be ‘purist’ in remaining firmly wedded to given epistemological and methodological paradigms.

Research Ethics for International Planning Studies Researching planning internationally raises all the usual ethical questions which arise in research and some more specific issues. Today in many research contexts it is necessary to have some kind of research ethics framework. An immediate question which arises in undertaking research internationally is which research ethics framework will apply? Will it be sufficient to seek ethical approval from one’s own institution, or will approval also be needed from an authority in another national context, or contexts, where research will be undertaken? Again, the issue of ethics in research is something which is highly context dependent. Different places may have varying understandings of what kinds of rules need to be adhered to depending on culture and issues such as the structure and state of development of the research sector. One issue that some international students have faced is also a lack of understanding on the part of ethics committees in the countries where they are studying of customs and rules in their home contexts. Worried by the implications if ‘things go wrong’ such committees may adopt a very cautious approach setting the bar very high for ethical approval and raising issues and questions which can be problematic for a student to comprehensively respond to. This can lead to delays in starting and completing research. Often university research committees are composed of members from a wide diversity of disciplines and there may be a lack of awareness of aspects of social science research in general and planning research in particular. Another observable phenomenon is ‘mission creep’ within research committee structures whereby they begin to elide issues of ‘health and safety’ with those of research ethics within a given project. An institution will naturally wish to discharge a ‘duty of care’ towards a student or


4  Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies

staff member setting out to conduct research in a different national setting and this clearly has ethical dimensions, but it is a slightly different issue from that of ethics within research per se. The use of international ethical guidelines may go some way to mitigating such issues (Hantrais, 2009, pp. 146–149). In general terms some core principles of ethical research should be adhered to. Perhaps foremost amongst these is the commitment to do ‘no harm’ to research participants and settings. For example, if there is a risk that publishing findings may reveal the identity of participants who wished to remain anonymous then every care must be taken to avoid this. In certain cases, this may mean that the information should not be used, or cannot be used in its original form. Although planning is not usually considered a highly sensitive field of public and state policy, it nevertheless involves the interaction of the state at different scales, with powerful political and economic interests. Planning issues and in particular specific projects can become very controversial and politicised and those working on them sometimes have to ‘make a stand’ against powerful interests at some professional, or personal cost. No researcher wants to be responsible for placing a research participant in a difficult position at risk of dismissal, or some other form of punishment. Remember that in many cases once the research is completed and researchers have moved on, those involved in the context will have to continue living and working in it. In relation to interviews in particular this means that a full discussion needs to take place on how an interviewee wishes their views to be reported, for example, if they request full autonomy, or some variant like ‘Planner A [name of area/role etc.]’. In some contexts, there may only be one or a small number of planners, politicians, community activists, and so on, involved in the plan or planning process being studied. Therefore, it is not for the researcher to unilaterally decide on how to attribute a quote, or other interview findings—for example, reporting an interviewee’s comments as ‘Heritage Planner A – Old Tree Province Council’ may very well reveal the person’s identity if there is only one such planner (‘A’) employed in that setting! These points also relate to the importance of the right for participants to withdraw from participation at any point without penalty or cost. If an interviewee, or group being observed, begin to feel uncomfortable or wary about the consequences of continued involvement in a project, then it is their right to withdraw from it. As Farthing (2016, p. 206) notes, many ethical guidelines require that participants must be informed of purposes, methods, and uses of the research, but ensuring this is achieved may be an issue if there are language barriers between the researcher and researched. Similarly, obtaining informed consent from research participants may be difficult in some settings if the concept and purposes of the research cannot be clearly communicated for similar reasons.

Summary This chapter has reviewed some research design and methodological issues that need to be taken into consideration when embarking on international planning studies. It has revisited some long-established research principles which also apply in other planning research and activities, even within a single national context.



It has been noted how international planning studies rely on a range of quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. These can range from quantitative analysis of existing official statistics, to reviewing institutional structures and the ‘content analysis’ of policy documents and other relevant sources that can shed a light on the policy/political treatment of the planning issues under investigation, to interviews with stakeholders in the planning system and process, through to observations of different planning processes and settings. A key message has been that whichever methods, or combination of approaches, is used, it is important to pay attention to context, an appreciation of which is increasingly seen as key to all forms of social research, whether carried out within, or across, national, cultural or societal boundaries. Though the chapter has raised a number of issues, it is certainly not intended as a dissuasive ‘health warning’ to those planning to undertake international planning study!  Whilst looking at planning internationally in a meaningful way can be challenging, it often generates particularly valuable insights, not just on how things works in other places, but often (e.g. through comparison) on how things are done and work in our own home contexts. On a wider front, as outlined in Chaps. 1 and 2, an interest in international planning experience and exchanges goes back to the origins of modern planning and beyond and has remained strong even through moments when internationalism more generally has faced tough times. The following chapter considers how different planning systems can be characterised.

Exercise 4.1  Research Design Questions for International Planning Studies

This chapter has reflected on some of the particular things to think about when embarking on planning research with an international dimension. Considering the following fundamental questions may prove useful when contemplating research in international planning studies: 1. How do I understand the research ‘problem’? What are the research questions the study seeks to address and how can these be justified? 2. What is the logic of the approach I will use to answer the research questions? 3. What kind of information is needed to respond to the research questions? That is, what type of data needs to be collected/generated? 4. Which methods will be used to collect/generate this data? How will it be collected? 5. How will the data be analysed? 6. What are the ethical dimensions of the proposed study? Adapted from O’Leary (2004) and Farthing (2016) If research has an international dimension this will inevitably shape the responses to the kinds of questions above, often introducing new issues to be considered and new opportunities and/or challenges which need to be anticipated and addressed.


4  Research Design and Methods for International Planning Studies

Exercise 4.2  Research Ethics for International Planning Studies

Ethical questions for consideration when understanding international planning studies research: • Have I considered the ethical dimensions of my proposed research? • Does my research design and methodology involve working with human subjects (e.g. will I be conducting interviews or observations)? • Will I be working with children or other specific groups that may be defined as vulnerable? • How will I use and store the data? Will it be destroyed after I have no further use for it? • Under which institutional, national, international, or other framework of research ethics will the work need to be approved and conducted? • Have I allowed enough time to apply for a secure ethical approval for the project? • Am I prepared for potential misunderstandings on the part of a research committee as regards the situation in different contexts (e.g. in my home country, or other countries to be included in the study) and any resulting delays—for example, how can I communicate most clearly what I want to do and address any ethical questions which may be raised by it? Staying safe: • Are robust travel arrangements in place? • Has insurance for health and belongings been organised? Will my institution/employer etc. cover this or does it need to be organised individually? • Have any travel advice and warnings which may be in place for certain parts of the world been considered? • Have arrangements been made for staying in touch with my academic supervisors/line manager?

References Aldon, L., Allou, S., Attia, S., Bariol-Mathais, B., Friedman, B. K., Caldwell, J. W., et al. (2015). International guidelines on urban and territorial planning, towards a compendium of inspiring practices. United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT. Booth, P. (1983). Development control and design quality: Part 1: Conditions: A useful way of controlling design? The Town Planning Review, 54(3), 265–284. stable/40112001 Booth, P. A. (2015). What can we learn from France? Some reflections on the methodologies of cross-national research. In E. A. Silva, P. Healey, N. Harris, & P. Van den Broeck (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of planning research methods (pp. 84–96). Routledge. Bunnel, G. (2016). Transforming providence: Rebirth of a post-industrial city. Troy Book Makers.



Carrière, J. P., Farthing, S. M., & Fournier, M. (2007). Policy for Small Towns in Rural Areas in P. Booth, M. Breuillard, C, Fraser & D. Paris (eds) Spatial Planning Systems of Britain and France. London: Routledge. pp. 119–34. Commission of the European Community (CEC). (1997) The EU compendium of spatial planning systems and policies. Regional development studies 28. Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission.­detail/-­/ publication/059fcedf-­d453-­4d0d-­af36-­6f7126698556. Dembski, S., Sykes, O., Couch, C., Desjardins, X., Evers, D., Osterhage, F., Siedentop, S., & Zimmermann, K. (2021). Reurbanisation and suburbia in Northwest Europe: A comparative perspective on spatial trends and policy approaches. Progress Planning, 150, 1–47. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.progress.2019.100462 Denscombe, M. (2007). The good research guide: For small-scale social research projects. In Open up study skills (3rd ed.). Open University Press, Denscombe, M. (2010). Ground rules for social research; Guidelines for good practice (2nd ed.). Open University Press. Eversley, D. (1978). Report on Anglo-German Conference on Public Participation. Royal Town Planning Institute. Farthing, S. (2016). Research design in urban planning. Sage. Flyvbjerg, B. (2011). Case study. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (4th ed., pp. 301–316). Sage. Hague, R., Harrop, M., & McCormick, J. (2019). Comparative Government and politics (11th ed.). Red Globe Press. Hantrais, L. (2009). International comparative research: Theory, methods and practice. Palgrave Macmillan. Kantor, P., & Savitch, H.  V. (2005). How to study comparative urban development politics: A research note. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(1), 135–151. https://­2427.2005.00575.x King, G., Keohane, R., & Verba, S. (1994). Designing social inquiry: Scientific inference in qualitative research. Princeton University Press. Kitchen, T. (1997). People, politics, policies and plans: The city planning process in contemporary Britain. Paul Chapman: London. Kunzmann, K. R. (2019). Why not Italian? Differences matter! A comment on ben Davy’s viewpoint in TPR on ‘thoughts on internationalism and planning. Town Planning Review, 90(1), 3–9. Masser, I. (1986). Some methodological considerations. In I.  Masser & R.  H. Williams (Eds.), Learning from other countries: The cross-national dimension in Urban policy-making. Geo Books. Masser, I., & Williams, R. H. (Eds.). (1986). Learning from other countries: The cross-national dimension in urban policy-making. Geo Books. Nadin, V. (2012). International comparative planning methodology: Introduction to the theme issue. Planning Practice & Research, 27(1), 1–5. O’Leary, Z. (2004). The essential guide to doing research. SAGE. Pierre, J. (2005). Comparative urban governance: Uncovering complex causalities. Urban Affairs Review, 40(4), 446–462. Rees, P.  W. (2015, January 25). London needs homes, not towers of ‘safe-deposit boxes’. The Guardian. Reimer, M., Getimis, P., & Blotevogel, H. (Eds.). (2014). Spatial planning systems and practices in Europe: A comparative perspective on continuity and changes. Routledge. Sellers, J.  M. (2005). Re-placing the nation: An agenda for comparative urban politics. Urban Affairs Review., 40(4), 419–445. Sharpe, L.  J. (1975). Comparative planning policy: Some problems. In M.  J. Breakell (Ed.), Problems of comparative planning WP-21 (pp. p26–p32). Oxford Polytechnic. Silva, E. A., Healey, P., Harris, N., & Van den Broeck, P. (Eds.). (2015). The Routledge handbook of planning research methods. Routledge.


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Van Dan Berg, L., Drewett, R., Klassen, L. H., & VIjverberg, C. H. (1982). Urban Europe: A study of growth and decline. Pergamon. Williams, R. H. (1984). Cross-national research: Translating theory into practice. Environment & Planning B: Planning & Design, 11(2), 149–161. Williams, R. H. (1996). European Union spatial policy and planning. PCP Ltd. Wollmann, H. (2000). Local government systems: From historic divergence towards convergence? Great Britain, France, and Germany as comparative cases in point. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy., 18(1), 33–55. Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: design and methods. 3rd edition. Sage Publications. Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods. 5th edition. Sage Publications.


Characterising Planning Systems

Introduction Different nation states have developed planning systems that seek to shape the way that development takes place, with their configurations, powers and responsibilities, instruments, and ways of working, being conditioned by the contexts in which they operate. Planning, therefore, has a ‘chameleon like quality’ (Booth, 1986), and its particular form depends on the specific historical, social, economic, political, and cultural context within which it is found. As discussed in Chap. 3, it is important to recognise too that in many countries, much or even most development takes place outside of formal systems of planning. Informed by such themes, this chapter explores ways that planning systems might be characterised.

Planning Systems A planning system can be defined as: the localized multi-tier and multi-partner governance framework for formulating, developing and/or improving urban and territorial policies, plans, designs and implementation processes, aimed at more compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected, and climate resilient cities and territories. In addition, the planning system should also be considered as the combined performance of ‘planning in theory’ and ‘planning in practice’. (UN-HABITAT, 2018, p. 26)

Or: the ensemble of institutions that are used to mediate competition over the use of land and property, to allocate rights of development, to regulate change and to promote preferred spatial and urban form. (Nadin et al., 2018, p. viii)

Clearly the first of these definitions goes beyond identifying the general nature and purpose of planning systems to start identifying ‘substantive’ goals (e.g. more compact cities). A planning system might typically have certain functions, or elements (Box 5.1). © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 O. Sykes et al., International Planning Studies, Planning, Environment, Cities,



5  Characterising Planning Systems

Box 5.1  Key Functions and Elements of Planning Systems

1. Establishing policy frameworks Within this group of instruments, we include policy guidelines and strategic plans. Policy guidelines aim to steer the land-use development process, but they do not make any prescriptions for specific areas. The National Planning Policy Framework in England is an example of such a document. It contains no maps and provides generic guidance as to the purpose of planning, and the broad planning priorities for various sectors (housing, employment land, green belts, responding to climate change, etc.). Strategic Plans focus on major policy challenges and spatial principles and responses, but often without being overly prescriptive. They are often map based and, depending on the particular context, can exist at a variety of different scales: national, regional, or local. Increasingly, and in part recognising the permeability of administrative boundaries, these plans may be national, sub-regional, intermunicipal, or cover a functional region of some description for which a coordinated spatial framework might be seen as necessary. These can be formal statutory plans or have a more informal, but significant, role in shaping development trajectories. In Canada, the Province of Ontario’s A Place to Grow (2020) plan is an example of this which sets out, using text and maps, a vision for the wider region around the City of Toronto, identifies where development and key infrastructure should be located, intensification and density targets, and defines areas for protection. At a more detailed level zoning/boundary or master plans might be prepared, which for a given location specify a particular land use that is intended, or permitted. These plans once approved might be legally binding, conferring development rights on the land owner and hence be part of the process of regulation, or merely indicative. 2. Regulating Development All formal planning systems are involved in regulating development, authorising, or licensing specific types of development in defined places. This regulation process is determined by what Faludi (1983) called the ‘decision moment’. There are different processes in place and sometimes the approval of a legally binding zoning plan may permit development so long as the development is in accordance with the plan. In other systems some variations from the detail of an approved plan may be permitted whilst in others, individual decisions are made with each separate planning application being considered on its merits. The differences between a committed or legally binding system and a discretionary system are often emphasised in work on comparative planning, though in practice there is often rather more of a continuum between these two approaches to regulation (see discussion later in this chapter). In formal planning systems, there are usually mechanisms for dealing with illegal or unregulated development. This is usually known as enforcement, with actions ranging from post-event authorisation, or regularisation of the development, to having the development pulled down. (continued)

Planning Systems


Box 5.1  (continued)

3. Special mechanisms for implementation Beyond the formal mechanisms outlined, in many states there is also a complex array of agencies, designations, policies, plans, and programmes, concerned with different aspects of implementation. These may be permanent, or time limited in their operation and designed to incentivise particular forms of development in certain places; protect areas with certain valued historical or environmental features from overdevelopment; or, increasingly, in more entrepreneurial forms of planning, incorporate mechanisms to enable land value capture. The latter is the process whereby public authorities seek to capture the uplift (betterment) in land values associated with planning decisions to pay for, or offset, the cost to the public purse or the environment (e.g. through biodiversity offsetting), of some of the costs associated with development.

The way that different planning systems are configured with respect to the elements in Box 5.1 and how these relate to one another strongly shapes the scaling and scope of the formal planning systems in different places. As UNHSP (2018, p. 7) note: Planning systems vary between countries. Some, but not all, include plans at regional or urban scale. Some aspired to provide a physical complement to economic planning within command economies; others were designed to enable detailed management of land use change in market economies.

Some common themes can, nevertheless, be observed, in that planning systems typically: • Involve an attempt to shape market conditions to deliver political outcomes and therefore require strong partnership working between public private and civil/ voluntary sectors; • Seek to coordinate activity between different levels (vertical integration) and between different sectors (horizontal integration); • Aim to be responsive to local needs and opportunities, but often need to consider regional, national, and sometimes international, contexts; • Seek to balance competing objectives of delivering growth, meeting societal needs in the interests of inclusion and fairness and ensuring that new development contributes to protecting and restoring biodiversity and addressing the climate change emergency; • Are coordinated by the public sector in terms of determining goals and aspirations, but do not rely exclusively on public sector capacity, either in the making of planning policy or in the delivery of outcomes on the ground;


5  Characterising Planning Systems

• Feature a cadre of professional actors to help create planning strategies and frameworks, and identify suitable implementation mechanisms; • Require outcomes to be defined and monitored (to help deliver political/societal goals in terms of the built and natural environment); and • Are dynamic, not static, in terms of both the system itself and the way policy frameworks (often in the form of plans and strategies) are revised and subject to increasingly frequent reform, not just in terms of the overall system structure, but also the policy priorities which are pursued. Informed by the features discussed above, the following sections outline ‘themes of enquiry’ which can be used to characterise planning systems.

Characterising Planning Systems Reimer et al. (2014, p. 2) refer to treatments of planning systems grounded in a consideration of legal and administrative frameworks as the ‘classical’ approach to comparative planning study. Authors such as Newman and Thornley (1996), Newman and Thornley (2005), and projects like the EU Compendium of Spatial Planning Systems and Policies (CEC, 1997—‘the Compendium’) have extensively developed this approach to construct typologies of planning systems that identify different ‘planning families’ or ‘planning traditions’. The Compendium used seven ‘variables’ to inform its characterisation of planning systems—(i) the legal family; (ii) the scope of the system in terms of policy topics covered; (iii) the extent of national and regional planning; (iv) the locus of power or relative competences between central and local government; (v) the relative roles of public and private sectors; (vi) the maturity of the system or how well it is established in government and public life; and (vii) the apparent distance between expressed goals for spatial development and its  outcomes. These ‘variables’ included ‘a combination of both descriptive and more normative (value-based) criteria’ (Nadin & Stead, 2013, p. 1551). The following section draws on them to outline an expanded set of ‘themes of enquiry’ which can help characterise planning systems incorporating elements which seek to capture the evolving global context of international planning studies (Box 5.2). The dimensions captured by the themes interact and shape one another, influencing how a planning system is configured, and often how well it performs. The themes provide a framework with which to characterise and evaluate planning systems. These are reviewed in turn, with references to some relevant examples.

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


Box 5.2  Eight Themes of Enquiry to Characterise Planning Systems

Theme 1. Administrative and legal contexts. Theme 2. Scope of planning and the planning system. Theme 3. Balance of competences between levels of government. Theme 4. Extent and type of planning at national, regional, and local levels. Theme 5. Stakeholders in the planning system. Theme 6. Regulatory, discretionary, or hybrid, nature of the planning system. Theme 7. Capacity of the planning system and the distance between its expressed objectives and planning outcomes. Theme 8. Formality and informality in planning.

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems The Administrative and Legal Context This theme addresses issues such as what kind of administrative and legal systems does the state have—for example, does it have a codified ‘civil’ legal system or a more ‘common law’ tradition? The influence of administrative and legal contexts and traditions on the nature of planning has inspired studies which have sought to explore the characteristics that define and differentiate planning systems. In Europe, notably within the context of processes of European integration, there has been interest in how, whilst planning systems may have broadly similar goals, there remain considerable variations in practice. Some researchers have focused on defining  legal and administrative families of planning, while others have explored the scope and purpose of planning. Davies et al. (1989) drew on the distinction between common and civil law approaches to distinguish planning in England and Ireland and in Western continental Europe, where legal systems were dominated by a civil ‘Napoleonic’ code. Newman and Thornley (1996) combined ideas about the influence of administrative and legal traditions to identify five ‘families’—British, Napoleonic, Germanic, Scandinavian, and East European— that reflected legal structures, administrative systems, and, to a certain extent, recent history (Fig. 5.1). Hence, alongside the British and Irish (based on common law) and western European (based on civil ‘Napoleonic’ codes) families, a Germanic family, characterised by federal systems of government, a Scandinavian grouping, and an Eastern European tradition reflecting a Socialiststyle planning approach, were also identified. The British and Irish group is characterised by its reliance on common law as the defining feature of its legal system. In common law decision-making is based on precedent and the particular circumstances of any case leading to a high level of discretion being given to those interpreting the law based on the context and


5  Characterising Planning Systems

Fig. 5.1  Legal and Administrative Families in Europe (Newman & Thornley, 1996, p. 29)

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


unique issues presented as part of the case. This is reflected in many ways in how planning is conducted, with decisions being made based on a combination of local planning policies and guidance from central government as well as other legally defined ‘material considerations’ deemed relevant to the planning issue at hand. In terms of administration, countries in the British and Irish group are quite centralised, with their national governments setting the policy framework which is then implemented by the local level where the majority of planning decisions are actually made. Comprised of a wide range of countries, including France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, and Greece, the Napoleonic Family finds its origins in the Napoleonic Civil Code introduced in 1804. By drawing on broad legal concepts and ideals this system aims to pre-empt potential problems through the development of a system of rules. This rule-based system manifests itself through a range of codes and plans designed to ensure equality of implementation. In planning for instance, this can result in a zoning system that sets out what can be built where, for what use, and under what circumstances. The Germanic family shares a number of similarities with the Napoleonic Family in terms of being  a rules-based system. The key distinction is that the Germanic system exists within a federal system where competences are distributed between different levels of government. This creates the requirement for the various levels of government to coordinate and negotiate between each other to ensure overarching objectives are met. For example, in Germany the Federal level sets out the core spatial planning principles to be applied throughout the country, the State level develops a spatial development plan for their territory which is coordinated with the regional scale which produces more specific urban development strategies, while the local levels are charged with the development of land use plans. Scandinavian/Nordic countries have a more devolved system of governance which impacts the scale at which planning most often takes places. Local governments have high levels of administrative and financial autonomy. This leads to most planning being undertaken at the local level, with comprehensive development plans and land-use plans most often being produced by the local territory. Between the Nordic countries there are, however, differences in how legally binding different types of plans are. Regional and national scales of government generally have far fewer competences in terms of planning. Newman and Thornley’s last grouping of countries was the East European nations. Their analysis was conducted in the 1990s and reflects the broad influence of the former Soviet Union on planning systems in this region at that time. As a result, the systems were still characterised by a highly centralised planning system that left little room for local input into key planning decisions. More recently, the planning systems within many Eastern European countries have become more diverse, with some creating new regional scales and strengthening local areas as planning measures to manage property and market-orientated land-use.


5  Characterising Planning Systems

Similar analyses can be done for countries in other regions around the world. By looking at a state’s  administrative and legal systems it is often possible to gain an understanding, at least on a formal level, of how planning decisions are administratively decided, what legal framework is being used to guide them, and who is making those decisions. Typologies of planning systems which ascribe them to broad families based on law and administrative structure can thus be useful in accounting for differences that derive from the legal settings and administrative structures which influence the operation of planning systems—for example, why legally binding plans or more discretionary approaches to regulation are used. However, as is the nature of heuristics, they do not necessarily capture every possible set of circumstances—for example, the United States may have a common law tradition, but is characterised by a regulatory system of planning operated through detailed legally binding land use zoning at the local level (see Box 5.9 later in this chapter). For Reimer and Blotevogel (2012, p. 7) these ‘primarily structuralist explanations of spatial planning come up against their limitations when comparative research into planning aspires to go beyond merely producing a systematic description of basic structures and to comment on the practice of planning action’. They argue that the classic approach has value, but only through understanding the link between planning systems and planning culture can the way that planning is practised in different places be fully grasped. Meanwhile, Nadin and Stead (2013, p.  1548) point out that legal families are not the only reason why differences in planning policy and practice arise and there is ‘a tendency to overemphasize the effect of variation in legal styles and administrative structures’. They note too that there is a risk of underplaying the extent of dynamism and ‘flux’ in planning systems and the influence of wider societal and cultural contexts for planning (Nadin & Stead, 2013). Planning systems are rarely static; indeed, they are almost in a constant state of flux driven by domestic concerns or by external factors (Box 5.3). There is also a need to recognise that legal and administrative systems are themselves dynamic—for example, over time there may be a certain convergence between ‘civil’ and ‘common law’ jurisdictions, with more scope for precedent to be considered in the former, and greater codification in the latter. Finally, these debates have emerged primarily from studies in Europe. Around the wider globe there are also mixed legal systems and other forms of law such as customary law and religious legal systems which set the context for how planning systems are established and operate. Furthermore, as explored under Themes 7 and 8 later, administrative capacity and the extent to which development takes place under the auspices of the formal planning system vary significantly around the globe. This introduces further complexity and context-dependency which might lead to limitations in understanding if the legal and administrative approach is used as the sole means of characterising planning systems.

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


Box 5.3  Planning Reform: The Case of Saudi Arabia

Internal and external factors are driving system reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). There has been a growing realisation that the planning system has not been delivering the anticipated outcomes. In 2013, the Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs (MoMRA), the department for planning, in partnership with the United Nations Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT), agreed to implement a ‘Future Saudi Cities Programme’ designed to promote sustainable urbanism. At its heart were five key planning reform objectives: • Provide a better urban environment in the 17 biggest cities, in accordance with the standards of city prosperity and wellbeing; • Reduce urban sprawl and manage urbanisation in a more thoughtful manner; • Seek institutionally sustainable solutions and coordination between ministries and partners for urban development; • Raise the institutional and technical capacity of planning actors and agencies; and • Involve all segments of the population, especially women and youth groups, in urban planning and implementation processes. In 2015, the Kingdom also launched Vision 2030, which seeks to improve government services, diversify the economy, and build a vibrant society so that citizens can enjoy a better quality of life in cities designed to be resilient to climate change. Given that so much of this agenda relates to how land is and should be used, planning should arguably be at the heart of realising this vision. In practical terms the National Transformation Programme is driving the change. This is where key actors and stakeholders must explicitly note what actions they are going to take over what time scales to contribute to the Vision. One of MoMRA’s clear stated objectives is to prepare a Spatial Planning Act. A White Paper was produced in 2018 which garnered broad support, and work is ongoing on the draft of the Act which will adopt enforceable planning legislation enacted by a single Royal Degree. The Planning Act will be designed to address longstanding overlaps in roles, responsibilities, jurisdictions in the planning system, reflecting inefficiencies in governance. The White Paper recognises that cultural reform in practice is equally as important as system reform. Externally the Kingdom has committed to meeting the SDG goals in part through the New Urban Agenda, which is also acting as an impetus for change and inspiration of how to reform. The reform process in KSA is ongoing illustrating how planning systems around the world are constantly evolving to meet new challenges.


5  Characterising Planning Systems

The Scope of Planning and the Planning System It is important to be aware that the term ‘planning’ is used to refer to different kinds of policymaking systems and goals in different places (see Chaps. 1 and 3) and to be clear what is meant by ‘planning’ and what it covers, includes, and, therefore, excludes. When considering planning globally, it is particularly important to note that it is frequently used in relation to forms of economic planning, as well as what the UN describes as urban and territorial planning (UN-HABITAT, 2016). In terms of scope, it is not just about how the systems are organised but also what the systems are trying to achieve in terms of overarching planning policy goals. Rhetoric accompanying planning reforms often talks about balancing economic, social, and environmental agendas with the goal of achieving sustainable development through the planning system. Planning reforms have, however, also often been framed in terms of reducing the burden of planning because of the brakes that planning regulations purportedly apply to economic growth. Hence planning reform is often framed in terms of ‘streamlining and simplifying the system’ and ‘removing barriers to growth’. This was the justification for recent planning reforms in all the states of Australia (Ruming & Gurran, 2014). Such reforms reflect broadly neoliberal perspectives which aim at reducing the power of the state and are also frequently juxtaposed against narratives of providing greater democratic engagement and involvement by the public. But as systems evolve and the economic viability of developments seems to be given more weight in decision-making, arguments about the merits of particular projects seem more rooted in technical arguments, and continuous change means that citizens (or non-experts) often feel excluded or at best disadvantaged when making their case (Inch, 2015). This mix of reform motivations and impacts also interfaces with environmental agendas. Tools such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)  and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) have been introduced around the world. These are intended to ensure the environmental case for or against a project or plan is explicitly considered before a decision to proceed is made and that  attempts are made to address or minimise adverse environmental impacts. As environmental assets continue to be eroded and evidence of the climate change emergency becomes ever starker, it is questionable how effective these instruments have been. For many planners who see planning rooted in the idea of serving a public interest addressing the climate change emergency is a new overriding policy priority for planning. Carbon intensive forms of development are often already embedded in the existing built form and there is a concern to try and avoid future development aggravating this. However, many climate relevant land use changes, for example, de- and reforestation may be beyond the scope of formal land use planning systems. But planners do have an important role in helping to make places more resilient to climate change, avoiding areas of risk and perhaps capturing some development value to ensure new development does not contribute further to existing problems. Equally decarbonising the economy will see new forms of development which will require space, and determining where these should be located is at the heart of planning. Perceptions of the scope and role of planning therefore  evolve over time. For example, in many parts of the western world the period from roughly 1945 to 1980

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


was characterised by forms of ‘spatial-Keynesianism’ under which many countries pursued an active regional policy supported by substantial resources from the central state. Interrelated policy goals typically included the aspiration to deliver infrastructure and rebalance economic activity across the national territory, develop clusters and poles to promote economic development and industrial modernisation, raise living standards in less developed regions, and mitigate migration flows to certain rapidly expanding areas. Such policy interventions were often described as ‘regional planning’, but whilst they often had clear physical impacts on land use and spatial development on the ground, their legal basis and the instruments used were usually distinct from those of land use/physical planning. Thus, in the UK the town and country planning system existed alongside the regional policy system, and in France the land use focussed system of urbanisme was distinct from that of the regional economic planning aménagement du territoire system (Desjardins, 2018). Similarly, when considering planning from an international perspective today, it is important to be clear about what kinds of planning are implied when terms like ‘the planning system’ are used in different contexts. As noted in Chap. 4 it is possible for meaning to be ‘lost in translation’. The scope of planning, may therefore be quite narrowly defined and specifically focused on the regulation of development, or be more expansive in its remit incorporating other policies with spatial implications. For example, an internet search with the terms ‘Chinese planning system’ will usually first return information about the system of five-year economic plans which also exists in other contexts such as India. This kind of planning is often spatially selective and targeted, for example, supporting infrastructure investments in roads, railways, ports, energy generation schemes, and even strategies for urbanisation. In China there are therefore effectively ‘three planning systems; the socioeconomic development plans, the national spatial plans (land use plans), and the urban and rural plans’ (MLIT, 2016) (Fig. 5.2). And the situation is also dynamic reflecting changing political priorities and policy challenges, notably those associated with rapid growth and urbanisation. Traditionally planning functions resided with the Ministry of Construction with an emphasis on urban development, perhaps to the exclusion of the rural areas. Between 2008 and 2018, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) became the national body overseeing planning with an emphasis on housing and greater balance between rural and urban development. Today the planning function resides with the Ministry of Natural Resources, so that there should be greater coordination between what might broadly be described as environmental and resource management issues and  consideration of any  risks associated  with development trajectories. There is a growing emphasis on creating integrated places and this in turn is reflected in many of the city-wide plans. For example, the Shanghai Master Plan of 2017 is ‘striving for the Excellent Global City’ and is supported by three main objectives—to be a dynamic city of prosperity and innovation, a charming city of happiness and humanity, and a sustainable city that is green and resilient. Arguably, the scope of the system has changed over time and now there is a greater emphasis on planning as a broader place making activity which is more centrally involved in the coordination of actors as well as the regulation of development.

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Fig. 5.2  Three Kinds of Spatial Policy/Planning System in China. Source: https://www.mlit. Table 5.1  The three types of spatial planning systems in the UK in the 1990s Type of system Statutory Urban policy project–led Regional economic and political

Nature of system Certainty framework Flexible, ad hoc Extreme flexibility and discretionary

Process Development plans and planning control Ad hoc projects undertaken according to availability of funding Economic growth decisions promoted by political collaboration

Source: Tewdwr-Jones (1999, p. 255)

Meanwhile, it has been suggested that in Britain, at times there have been ‘not one but three different types of spatial-planning systems’—a statutory planning system (development plan-led regulation of land use); urban policy project-based planning system; and a regional economic and political planning system (Tewdwr-Jones, 1999, pp. 254–255) (Table 5.1). International studies therefore need to be aware of the distinctions between different systems of planning and how they articulate with one another in different contexts if some of the potential pitfalls outlined in Chap. 4 are to be avoided. Indeed, it is perhaps useful to think not only in terms of ‘planning systems’, but also of ‘systems of planning’. This might allow recognition of the distinction which has been made between spatial policy as any policy which has spatial impacts whether that is its principle aim or not, and spatial planning per se (Williams, 1996)—the former can  could include many policy sectors, some with quite clear planning dimensions of their own such as infrastructure, transport and energy policies as well

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


as the economic planning initiatives mentioned earlier. Accounting for such issues, the EU Compendium of Spatial Planning Systems and Policies (CEC, 1997) characterised planning systems based on their scope and function rather than simply legal and administrative tradition, although inevitably the latter influenced the former. Evaluating the 15 countries that then comprised the EU, it identified four broad planning traditions (see Box 5.4). These were not seen as mutually exclusive of one another, and indeed individual countries might be characterised by one or more of these traditions. For example, in France, at a national scale the aménagment du territoire tradition with a longstanding aspiration for more balanced national development reflected the regional economic planning tradition, but at the local level the detailed binding local land use plans of the urbanisme system sat more comfortably within the urbanism tradition. Such categorisations are not fixed in time. Planning systems are dynamic, and often reformed, meaning that the style of planning can shift combining elements of different traditions and evolving from one tradition towards another (ESPON, 2018). Thus Geppert (2014) describes France as ‘drifting away’ from the regional economic planning model. Acknowledging this, several studies have sought to reflect how the planning systems of Europe have changed through time, how they might be characterised along multiple dimensions, and—following several expansions of the European Union—where new accession countries might fit within this framework. Box 5.4  Categorisation of Planning Traditions in Europe (CEC, 1997) This regional economic planning tradition concerns ‘the pursuit of wide social and economic objectives, especially in relation to disparities in wealth, employment and social conditions between different regions of the country’s territory. Where this approach to planning is dominant, central government inevitably plays an important role in managing development pressures across the country, and in undertaking public sector investment’. Comprehensive Under the comprehensive integrated tradition, ‘spatial planning is integrated conducted through a very systematic and formal hierarchy of plans from national to local level, which coordinate public sector activity across different sectors but focus more specifically on spatial coordination than economic development … This tradition is necessarily associated with mature systems. It requires responsive and sophisticated planning institutions and mechanisms and considerable political commitment to the planning process. Public sector investment in bringing about the realization of the planning framework is also the norm’. Land-use The land-use management tradition is ‘closely associated with the narrower management task of controlling the change of use of land at the strategic and local levels. In this situation, local authorities undertake most of the planning work, but the central administration is also able to exercise a degree of power, either through supervising the system … [or by] setting central policy objectives’. Urbanism The urbanism tradition has ‘a strong architectural flavour and concern with urban design, townscape and building control. In these cases, regulation … [is] undertaken through rigid zoning and codes … There is a multiplicity of laws and regulations but the systems are not so well established, and … [do not command] great political priority or general public support. As a result, they … [are] less effective in controlling development’. Regional economic planning

Source: Nadin and Stead (2013, p. 1552) adapted from CEC (1997)


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 he Balance of Competences and Power Between Central T and Local Government As noted in ESPON 2018 (p. 18), ‘Changes in the structure of government and the distribution of competences in planning are closely related’. A key factor which sets the context for planning is thus the extent to which power (authority) and competences (responsibility) for planning are centralised or decentralised in a polity. In the United States of America, for example, there is no federal planning law, but there is federal regulation that might affect development activities on the ground. For example, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970 that seeks to limit the adverse impacts of development on the environment by undertaking an anticipatory evaluation of the possible environmental effects and where possible proposing mitigation. This established the process of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which has now spread around the world. But in general, as within other federal states, the framework legislation that structures the form and nature of planning is principally  set by each state. Legislation at state level authorises the local governments within the state to adopt comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances, but only a few states require them to do so. Furthermore, at the federal state level there are very limited, if any, measures trying to shape land use. Only 13 US States out of 50 prepare state-wide plans, and most of these are not binding on local governments. Only in five states (California, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, and Maryland) are local authorities required to have both an adopted comprehensive plan and zoning regulations (OECD, 2017). In this context, the determination of the form  the  planning system takes  might be described as highly decentralised because the local authorities do not have to prepare any comprehensive land-use plans or zoning regulations.

 he Extent and Type of Planning at National, Regional, T and Local Levels The structure of the state often influences the extent and type of planning at national, regional, and local levels, which may be subject to ‘rescaling’ following political changes at the national level especially in unitary and centralised states. In thinking about the levels at which planning takes place, terms such as ‘national’, ‘regional’, and ‘local’ do not necessarily relate to administrative levels of government and even if they do, the relative powers and responsibilities at different levels of government vary extensively. In some respects, it might be better to talk about levels of government when describing planning systems, such as first level (national), second level (federal state or regional), third level (regional or metropolitan) fourth level (local authority), and fifth level (neighbourhood). Then care needs to be taken in translating terms and seeking to understand the planning powers and responsibility at each level. The second level can be often prone to misinterpretation in comparative planning. In federal systems, this is the level of the federal states and is usually very powerful, creating laws, frameworks, plans, and policies. In other cases, the secondlevel authorities might be quite small or even absent. In the Netherlands there are 12 provinces and these are often described as regions. Clearly, in terms of scale, size,

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


significance, and planning powers these are very different from regions in federal systems. Elsewhere regional plans may be based on informal arrangements of collaboration between lower-tier authorities to deal with an issue that might require collaboration. This could relate to functional regions related to human activities (e.g. travel to work regions) or natural environmental systems (e.g. river catchments to better coordinate and manage flood risk management). Regional plans can also be prepared, sometimes by national government, where there are no administrative governance arrangements at that level. Within some polities there are variations in the way that planning operates, to the extent that it is arguable there is more than one system of planning (see Box 5.5). This is often a characteristic of federal, or devolved, states where much autonomy is vested at the level of the states, or regions. Indeed, as already alluded to above, in some federal states, such as the United States of America, there is arguably no national planning system as such.

Box 5.5  One State? One Planning System?

In many nation states, because of historical and other factors there is no single uniform planning system that applies across the country. Often there are significant, detailed, and subtle variations in practice within a state meaning several planning systems coexist. This is particularly true of federal, or devolved, states. In Australia, planning is an exclusively state function and the Federal, or national government, has a relatively limited role in shaping state planning legislation and policy. Hence, each of the eight Australian states has their own legislation for planning and pursues their own planning reform agendas, often related to election cycles. More reforms, since the financial crisis of 2008, are said to be following a consensual pro-growth  neoliberal agenda, which requires  that systems should be streamlined, simplified, and that  any alleged  impediments to growth in the  planning system should be removed (Ruming & Gurran, 2014). In Germany, each of the 16 states (Länder) has its own planning legislation, and it has been decided collectively that the national government should have limited planning powers for those functions that require a coordinated planning approach, for example, the planning of national infrastructure. The principle is that decisions should wherever possible be made locally, unless they could be better taken at a higher level, in which case the lower tiers, in very limited ways, cede some of their sovereign powers for the collective good. This is sometimes known as the subsidiarity principle. So, in Germany each state has a similar, but separate, planning system. The UK is presently a multinational state and does not have a single planning system. There is an English planning system for which legislation and policy are determined by the UK (Westminster) Government and Parliament. (continued)


5  Characterising Planning Systems

Box 5.5  (continued)

In Scotland, the 1947 Town and Country (Scotland) Planning Act was a separate piece of legislation to reflect different land law, and now the Scottish Parliament has sole responsibility for planning law and policy. The most recent legislation being the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. More recently in Wales, the National Assembly under devolved powers conferred by the Government of Wales Act 2006, amended by the Welsh Act 2017, now has legislative and policy competence in all planning matters. In Northern Ireland, planning was centrally controlled by a government department, but now powers are devolved to 11 new councils. Thus, there are four separate planning systems in the UK reflecting the devolved nature of the state.  These have distinctive features, such as more spatialised national planning frameworks in Scotland and Wales than in England, though they also have similar structures and operational principles (e.g. they still share  a discretionary approach to decision making on development).   Arguably within the states discussed in this box there are at least 28 planning systems: 4 in the UK, 8 in Australia, and 16 in Germany. Many states/ countries around the world arguably have more than one system of planning.

The third level (city regional/metropolitan) is variously constituted in different states. In some places there are full-fledged metropolitan governments with strategic planning competences, whereas in others city regional planning is based on the cooperation of the constituent municipalities with varying degrees of formal institutionalisation, stakeholder engagement, and authority over planning matters. Even at the fourth level (local authority) terminology can be confusing. The term ‘municipalities’ may convey the idea of a tightly bounded city or town which has its own government, but it can in practice refer to a wide variety of administrative areas with varying degrees of local autonomy. A municipality might be a free-standing city or a district/local authority which contains a number of small towns and villages but which is administratively managed by a single authority. The size (population and area) and number of municipalities, their constitutional status, and autonomy to act on planning matters also vary immensely. Some systems have provisions for planning at the fifth level (neighbourhood), but again context is important, as the territories designated at this level in some states may be more equivalent to the fourth (local authority) level in other places. When making comparisons there is a need to understand what powers and responsibilities rest at which levels and not to assume this is the same as in a government structure with which one is familiar. Increasingly too, planning activities are not necessarily confined within national boundaries, but can be cross-border or transnational in nature, in part reflecting increasing global interconnections that require collaborative efforts beyond the ‘territorial containers’ defined by state borders (see Chap. 7). Finally, there is a need once again to account for the dynamism of systems of planning and territorial governance. The findings of the ESPON COMPASS project, for example, showed that in Europe ‘there has been very significant reform in the distribution of competences for spatial planning among levels (spatial scales) of

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


government since 2000’ (2018, p. 18). An example of this is the new city regional authorities, sometimes with new planning powers, which have emerged in a number of European states over the past two decades to address the policy issues of Functional Urban Regions (FUR) (Demazière et al., 2020; ESPON, 2018).

Stakeholders in the Planning System Planning systems are typically founded with the goal of providing a legitimate mechanism to balance different claims regarding the development and use of land in the public, or collective, interest. An important component of planning systems to consider is therefore how different stakeholders engage with planning, and what, if any, influence their participation exerts on the process. The key stakeholder groups in planning are typically identified as government (public sector/state), market interests (the private sector), and civil society (the general public, NGOs etc.). Reflecting the theme of dynamism developed already, the balance of influence between these interests often evolves over time. In some countries the public sector has traditionally taken a leading role when implementing projects. For example, in the Netherlands municipal government has taken a lead in the development process. A detailed land use plan, the bestemmingsplan, once approved allowed the municipality to acquire the land at existing market value. They would then act as the developer and the approval process, overseen by the regions, was partly based on the premise that the development overall could be delivered at a profit unless there was a subsidy from the state (e.g. if the land was a brownfield site with possible contamination). In China only land designated as urban land has been eligible for development and this is technically owned by the state. So, the state, often the local state, has gained considerable benefit from the uplift in land value from agricultural to urban development land and this has in part driven the rapid development of infrastructure. As regards the role of the market, in states where more (neo)liberal ideas have gained prominence, the private sector has played an increasingly prominent role in the development process, with public sector planning aimed primarily at regulating and often supporting the actions of private investors. This has occurred mainly since the 1980s, notably in states where the ascendency of different variants of ‘neoliberalism’ has seen public sector planning face criticism and reform as a potential regulatory hindrance to entrepreneurial activity. In England, for example, different governments have pursued agendas of ‘streamlining’ planning which have sought to speed up decision-making and promoted its ‘market supportive’ role (Sykes & O’Brien, 2018) (see also Box 5.5). Linked to this has been a heightened role for the private sector, not only in leading development, but increasingly in providing planning services through consultancy, or tendering to run aspects of the planning system. This became a common feature in South Africa in the 1990s as the national government sought to encourage foreign investment through institutions such as the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit which was tasked with promoting private-­sector investment in  local services (McDonald & Smith, 2004). This growth of market and private sector influence is


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observable in planning systems around the globe, but its extent and impact on how planning systems operate is variable. Sometimes though, the ‘neoliberalisation thesis’ is used rather uncritically in seeking to account for changes that may have more multiple, complex, and context-dependent causes—for example, Pinson and Morel Journel (2016, p. 144) note how in southern Europe ‘joint-ventures companies articulating public and private capital to implement development projects’ long predate the rising influence of neoliberalism since the 1980s. With regard to the role of civil society organisations and the general public, since the 1960s there has been sustained debate in planning practice and research surrounding their engagement in planning. The scope for the latter has increased in many planning systems, and ideas such as collaborative planning theory have proposed that it is possible for different interest groups in society to come together to generate new strategic planning discourses (Healey, 2006). Concurrently the concept of civil society has also been extensively debated over recent decades (Edwards, 2004) and governments have increasingly sought to emphasise the role of citizens and civil society in defining and delivering public policy. The UN has also strongly emphasised this in its policy pronouncements on development and urban agendas (see Chap. 6). Yet achieving consequential public engagement can be more, or less, challenging depending on the context and kind of planning. There is evidence, for example, that the more strategic or ‘remote’ the scale of planning and policymaking is from citizens, and the longer the time horizons involved, the more difficult it is to achieve successful engagement (Allmendinger, 2009). In some countries a tradition of public engagement in civic life is not well established, or certain groups may be excluded, and this can impact the extent of public participation in planning. For example, in many countries there is a growing realisation of the lack of gender equality and women’s ‘right to the city’. Some have advocated for changes to exclusionary planning processes that could result in greater empowerment of these groups through the creation of new inclusionary practices, see, for example, slum rehabilitation in India (Sunikka-Blank et  al., 2019), proactive engagement of women in the EIA process in Myanmar (Cornish, 2018) or more generally in urban policy and planning tools in South Asia (Bhattacharya et al., 2016). Arup et al. (2022, p. 12) meanwhile argue that ‘Adopting a gender-responsive approach to urban planning and design goes beyond serving only women: it ensures the whole community can access the opportunities offered by cities, and it generates wider social, economic and environmental benefits’. The relative power of different stakeholders or interest groups in relation to specific planning issues and agendas can of course vary depending on the mode of governance in different countries (Box 5.6). Stakeholder engagement is also argued to be key to the success of planning endeavours, as planning is rarely successful unless the relevant state, market, and civil actors who might be affected by, benefit from, or be expected to contribute to its realisation, are properly consulted. Here there is evidence to suggest that communicative and collaborative planning approaches can lead to better outcomes than models dominated by a single, or limited, group of interests, but the feasibility of applying these is again dependent on both the political system and the forms and scope of participation used (Box 5.7). Finally, in many world contexts, understanding the engagement of stakeholders in planning systems also requires an understanding of issues related to land policy and land rights, which can be fundamental to grasping how the system works. Here the

Source: UN-HABITAT (2009, p. 106)

Modes of urban politics and governance Inclusive democratic: Politicians are elected on the basis of a strong social contract and a rights-based programme that addresses both the priorities of the majority and the needs of minority and marginalised groups, to whom they are accountable. Corporatist: Politicians and powerful civic leaders are the key decision-­makers. They negotiate only with the most important interests, usually elite business interests or trade unions, whose support they need to realise their political objectives. Managerialist: Politicians and appointed officials are the key decision-­makers. Their goals are practical, often placing considerable emphasis on strong government, effectiveness, and efficiency. Pluralist: Competing interests are assumed to be sufficiently well organised to exercise influence over the political process, the role of which is to mediate between competing interests while achieving public objectives. Politics is conceived of as a bargaining process. Populist: These emerge where politicians (often a single politician such as an elected mayor) mobilise popular support as a way of setting and implementing their political agenda and maintaining themselves in power. Municipal goals appear to address the priorities of the majority, but are, in practice, symbolic: Resource allocation does not match them. Oligarchical: In this variety of populist governance, members of the elite hold political power. They mobilise popular support to legitimise their dominance and maintain themselves in power. Clientelist: Relations between politicians, bureaucrats, and citizens are particularistic and personalised. Pragmatic exchange relations guarantee decisions that advance the interests of constituents in return for electoral support. Authoritarian: In these non-democratic political systems, rule at the city level is by an appointee of the national leader (or single political party) backed by subordinate bureaucracy. Government is by command, concessions are obtained as personal favours, only welfare-providing NGOs are tolerated, and community-level organisation tends to be a mechanism for control over the population rather than a means for residents to exercise their political rights.

Box 5.6  Political Systems and Scope for Participation

Forms of participation Nominal Consultative Instrumental Representative Transformative √ √ √ √

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Box 5.7  Form Meaning and Purpose of Citizen Participation The purpose of participation Display, manipulation

What participation means to the implementing agency Legitimisation to show that it is doing something; pre-empt opposition

What participation means for those involved Inclusion, in the hope of gaining access to potential collective or individual benefits

Potential approaches Information collection through systematic data collection, consultative processes, responses to proposals Consultative Assembling Better informed Policies and plans Information useful decision-making that are more collection information with no loss of appropriate but through control with no guarantee systematic data that the outcomes collection, of consultations consultative are taken into processes, account responses to proposals Instrumental A means of Efficiency to draw on Access to Contributions increasing beneficiaries’ facilities and to costs effectiveness resources, increase services that are (money, labour, and stretching cost effectiveness, normally provided etc.) external and improve the only to those that resources prospects for can afford to pay further successful operation and maintenance Representative To give Sustainability; Leverage, direct Representative people a say established systems or indirect electoral in decision-­ are used for the influence political making expression of voice, system through the improving (national and political responsiveness and local system or ensuring government; specific accountability; decisionchannels provides a means of making and organising and advisory aggregating different bodies at city views or local level) Transformative Both a means Partnership with Joint analysis and Governance and an end non-governmental development of arrangements actors; collaborative plans; that involve decision-making and empowerment to partnerships or implementation enable people to ‘contracts’ define objectives, between make their own government decisions, control and citizen resources and take groups; action devolution of powers, responsibilities and resources Source: UN-HABITAT (2009), Planning Sustainable Cities, United Nations Human Settlement Programme, p. 94 Form Nominal

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robustness and accuracy of cadastral data within a country, which is a record of who has an interest and rights to particular parcels of land, can be key. In this context accurate boundaries are critical. Where cadastral records appear to be poor, or incomplete, disputes over land rights are common. Land rights determine who can use, access, or own land in certain settings. In some countries, land is owned by the state, in others land ownership is a mixture of private (both individual and corporate ownership) and state ownership, and elsewhere land is held in communal ownership, with user rights being largely shaped by kinship ties. In many countries the expropriation of land from traditional users, or occupiers of the land, by the state and vesting rights in certain types of developers creates problematic situations. From a state perspective it allows for development in the national interest, but for others it is denying traditional users of land their rights (see Box 5.8). Sometimes such issues can also arise around conservation goals where the declaration of protected areas may lead to limits being imposed on traditional activities, or even in some cases to the relocation of those living in the zones concerned. One of the big issues in the transfer of land rights is in settling the shorter- and longer-term compensation on offer, whether it is based on current use value rather than potential development value and loss of livelihood. Such debates often centre on concerns of both social and environmental justice.

Regulatory, Discretionary, and Hybrid Planning Systems As noted by ESPON (2018, p. viii), a key role of planning is ‘to allocate rights of development, to regulate change and to promote preferred spatial and urban form’. Influenced partly by administrative and legal traditions in a state (see earlier) this function may be performed through a regulatory, discretionary, or hybrid planning system. The distinction has also been expressed as a contrast between ‘conforming’ forms of planning which aim at regulatory certainty though binding zoning and ‘performing’ planning which privileges ‘strategic flexibility through discretionary planning’ (Janin-Rivolin, 2008; Steele & Ruming, 2012, p. 155). The distinctions in practice are often more fluid, and the dynamic nature of systems means there can be

Box 5.8  Half of Oklahoma Belongs to Native Americans Rules Supreme Court

In 2020 the US Supreme Court ruled that approximately half of the US state of Oklahoma is under the jurisdiction of the Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes. The ruling stems from the forced relocation of Native Americans to Oklahoma between 1831 and 1877 to designated reservations in the State. At the time the United States said the land would belong to the tribes in perpetuity. After Oklahoma became a State, the reservation lands were gradually sold off and the tribes’ rights to self-­governance dismantled. The Supreme Court, however, found that there was no legal basis to deny ownership as the US Congress never said it was no longer reservation land. While the case was argued in relation to criminal acts that took place on the land it has implications for land-use planning, as the expanded jurisdiction covers civil law of which planning and zoning is a key competency.



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Fig. 5.3  The discretionary to regulatory spectrum

tendencies to convergence, making it useful to think about systems as being on a spectrum between discretionary, hybrid, and regulatory (Fig. 5.3). Each planning system typically has elements of discretion and regulation in it, but systems tend to lean more towards one side of the spectrum than the other (Booth, 2003). There is no standard approach adopted under either model, but rather the individual legal, cultural, and institutional make-up of each planning system applies discretion and regulation in different ways to suit the context. The distinction between them often becomes especially blurred during implementation. As a starting point in considering the different approaches, Jowell (1975, p. 30) usefully outlines different stances towards the level of legalisation of administrative processes. He notes that ‘The advocates of ‘legalization’ of the administrative process would ... transform policies  - broad statements of general objectives  - into rules - authoritative directions that contain relatively specific and concrete guides for decision’. For example, ‘the administration of a law intended to prevent ‘unsafe’ driving would be progressively ‘legalized’ as all elements of ‘unsafe’ driving were reduced to specific rules - for example, maximum speed limits and one-way streets’. In planning, discretionary systems tend to encourage flexibility in decision-making through the use planning policies couched in terms such as ‘normally’, ‘may’, ‘ought to’, ‘have regard to’, and ‘will consider’. This is in contrast to regulatory approaches which are closer to the ‘legalisation’ model and are usually couched in less equivocal language using terms such as ‘will/will not’, ‘should/should not’, and ‘can/cannot’ (Tewdwr-Jones, 1999). Jowell (1975, p. 30) weighs up the pros and cons of more legalisation, or discretion, in administrative processes, noting that: what is gained in uniformity may be lost in flexibility; rules to prevent the arbitrary may encourage the legalistic; case-by-case adjudication may prevent comprehensive planning; rules that may shield the bureaucrat from pressures and allow the efficient and speedy dispatch of cases, may offend the client who desires individually tailored justice.

These themes can be related to ‘commonly held’ advantages and disadvantages of regulatory and discretionary planning systems (Table 5.2). In a regulatory system the approval of a plan, often a detailed local zoning plan, or ordinance (Box 5.9), usually confers development rights on landowners so long as the development proposal is in accordance with the detail of the plan. This essentially allows the owner to develop the property ‘as of right’, meaning they do not need planning permission if the development conforms to the plan and/or zoning requirements. The advantage of this approach is that it creates certainty for the developer at the start of the process providing them with ‘assured value’ that they will, at a minimum, be able to build what is allowed in the plan. Once built, the system also provides a general sense of certainty for owners that the zoning around their property will stay the same, for example, remain low-density, single-family homes. A regulatory system also provides decision-makers, such as planners and

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


politicians, and other owners on the street next to the development with assurance that decisions will not be made by whim, chance, or political expediency.

Box 5.9  The Emergence and Evolution of Zoning Under Regulatory Planning Systems: The Case of the United States

Zoning outlines what land uses are allowed within a particular location, such as residential, industrial, commercial, or mixed-use. Along with use, it is also used to define the shape of the built environment (height, width, etc.) and bulk (how much floor area a development can take up on a certain piece of land). It does this by using a combination of maps and text. The maps identify the property being regulated and the text outlines the rules that govern that property. It is used to different extents in a majority of countries as a means of land use regulation. Zoning is often utilised as a way to implement higher-level strategic land-use plans which set out the wider goals and visions for a city. While the origins of modern zoning can be traced back to Germany, it gained global popularity as a planning tool due to its extensive use in the United States. There it was used as a way to accommodate rapid growth and demand for housing in mostly suburban towns and cities by setting out, usually quite homogenous, zones for different types of development. This allowed the separation of nuisance, such as industrial activities, from residential areas. This idea of separation of nuisance formed a key argument in the landmark case which established the constitutionality of zoning in the United States. In 1926 the question of whether government had the legal right to restrict how land was used went to the Supreme Court (1926) in the case of the Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co. The decision highlights the ways in which legal traditions as well as broader cultural values can influence how planning is undertaken in a country. In the case, Ambler Realty owned a 68-acre parcel of land that they wanted to use entirely for industrial purposes but which Euclid zoned into three different land-use classes, thereby limiting how it could be developed. Ambler Realty argued that this was an unconstitutional ‘taking’ because it reduced the value of the land for industrial purposes while Euclid argued that it was valid to create different zones in order to protect residential areas from nuisance. The need to protect neighbourhoods from nuisance was already legally established, but what exactly was a nuisance had not been well defined. The Court created a very broad definition of what a nuisance was, arguing that the need to protect single-family homes from potential dangers was important. This highlighted the cultural importance in the United States that was placed on the protection of family and the impact this had on the interpretation of nuisance by the Court, which noted in its decision that ‘A quiet place where yards are wide, people few, and motor vehicles restricted are legitimate guidelines in a land-use project addressed to family needs... It is ample to lay out zones where family values, youth values, and the blessings of quiet seclusion and clean air make the area a sanctuary for people’. This set the legal precedent for the use of comprehensive zoning and separation of uses in the United States but also reinforced the supremacy of the single-family home as a dominant consideration when planning communities for decades to come.


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Table 5.2  Commonly held pros and cons of regulatory/discretionary planning systems Pros • Certain decision-making • Faster planning applications • Consistent decisionmaking circumstances • Objective decision-­ making representation • Avoidance of conflict in decision-making Discretionary • Flexible decision-making systems • Speedier plan making • Responsive to individual circumstances • Objective decision-­ making representations • Avoidance of conflict in decision-making Regulatory (zoning) systems

Cons • Inflexible decision-making • Slower plan-making • Unresponsive to individual • Unresponsive to community • Slower responses to unforeseen circumstances • Little potential for negotiation

• Uncertain decision-making • Slower planning applications • Inconsistent decision-making • Arbitrary decision-making • Potential for conflict in decision-making • Lack of checks and balances in the absence of plans (potentially) • Limited third-party rights of appeala means scope to challenge decisions is constrained and largely limited to developers, or judicial reviews of procedural matters

Source: Adapted from Carmona et al. (2003) and Steele and Ruming (2012) a Though some discretionary systems allow for this such as Ireland where An Bord Pleanála was established in 1977 to hear both first and third-party appeals (see

However, setting out the rules at the start of the process allows long-term planning, but can be slow and unresponsive to changes in circumstances because of the apparent rigidity of the system. A regulatory approach is inherently designed to lay down the rules by which development will be allowed and therefore works well for urban expansions, or brownfield redevelopment, where growth is being encouraged. In some cases binding land use plans are produced through what is known as a ‘neo-­ performative’ approach whereby the plan itself is developed in collaboration with developers and/or the private sector as opposed to strictly prepared by the local authority or municipality (Berisha et al., 2020; Satsangi et al., 2020). As a result those that potentially benefit from the rules being made are also involved in their creation. But it is important to remember that rules are set at a particular point in time and as such often fail to deal with changing circumstances over longer periods. This can inhibit the best use of land as areas change but the zoning stays the same, for example when a new metro transit station is built nearby but the older zoning remains unchanged at lower densities that do not support the new infrastructure. Zoning in North America has sometimes been accused of encouraging sprawling development and being socially exclusionary, resulting in economically and ethnically homogenous districts. In other contexts, decentralisation of strong planning powers to small municipalities may create competition for development resulting in patterns of periurbanisation and inefficient land use patterns. And for planners themselves, regulatory systems may also limit the amount of latitude and scope for creativity they have in making decisions, given that whether a development may proceed is largely based on if it meets requirements stipulated in advance.

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


In contrast, within a discretionary system politicians set out and approve the guidelines and policy that influences the development of the plan and overall planning decisions. Plans often provide the starting point for considering development proposals, but do not in themselves predetermine the outcome. Instead the system allows for inputs from planners and politicians in considering each individual planning application on its own merits, balancing the provisions within the plan (which provides a framework for decision-making) with other material considerations (factors to be considered such as national policy). As a result, each application is notionally judged on its own individual merits given the current circumstances and (often evolving) policy framework and any relevant non-binding land use plan. The planner’s role is to interpret the applicable planning policy based on their professional judgement and make a recommendation to politicians tasked with making the decision, or, in certain circumstances, to make decisions themselves when powers have been delegated to them. This approach with its unfolding decision-making process has also been termed a ‘performative’ approach to planning (Berisha et al., 2020) in which ‘development is guided by an indicative, non-binding land use plan, and planning permission is awarded on a discretionary basis that takes into account the plan as one among a range of considerations’ (Satsangi et al., 2020, p. 57). In general, a discretionary system provides the opportunity for decisions to be responsive to uncertainty and change, proceed in the absence of an approved plan, and respond to shifts in policy and context (e.g. economic conditions). However, a discretionary system can also create uncertainty for developers and surrounding landowners as it places a high level of trust in the decision-maker to make the most appropriate decision. The planner making recommendations to politicians, or sometimes making  the decision themselves, must therefore be properly trained, with people and politicians needing to have faith in their professional judgement (Chap. 8). Accountability in this system comes largely through political oversight and scrutiny, with a centralised system of supervision at the ministerial/government level rather than detailed locally adopted legal controls. The operation of a discretionary system requires high levels of capacity and integrity both at an institutional and a personal level if the probity of the process is to be maintained. Even in mature planning systems the suspicion that certain decisions have been made based on political interests can arise. This can be a particular concern where populist regimes have begun to challenge foundational principles and institutions of representative democracy and impartial public service (Murphy, 2020). In between the two models lie the appropriately titled ‘hybrid’ systems, which try to combine elements of both regulatory and discretionary approaches to planning. Like regulatory and discretionary systems, hybrid systems can take different forms depending on the context. Most commonly they are characterised by a broad set of zoning regulations which set out ‘as of right’ development potential as well as a more discretionary means to assess applications should developers wish to deviate from what is allowed in the zoning. This provides certainty to the developer regarding what can be built on the site but also flexibility should they wish to develop it for other potentially permissible purposes subject to planning permission. Tang et al. (2000, p. 2491) describe such a system in Hong Kong which ‘entails a discretionary approval process for private development applications made with a framework of statutory land-­ use zoning plans’ (Box 5.10). Ambiguity arises, however, in terms of not

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knowing what considerations the planners will emphasise when deciding about deviations in the zoning, as this will depend on the specific development proposed and the wider context. However, as will be discussed later, those systems which have introduced hybridity are perhaps harbingers of wider changes in planning systems.

Box 5.10  Hong Kong’s Hybrid Planning System

Hong Kong’s planning system dates from 1939 but saw a key change in 1974 which largely resulted in the hybrid system that generally exists there now. Prior to 1974 Outline Zoning Plans would identify land uses for properties and the form any development should take. As Hong Kong owned the majority of land within its boundaries and leased it out to developers as a way to raise revenue, it would then enter into lease agreements with individual developers to enact the provisions of the zoning plans. This largely followed the regulatory approach outlined earlier in this chapter. This was changed in 1974 when a schedule of notes for each zoning type in the Outline Zoning Plans was developed that split approvals into two columns, one which noted what uses were allowed ‘as of right’ and another column that noted what would be allowed subject to approval from the Town Planning Board. This allowed certainty for developers as to what is allowed along with an idea of what might be allowed if certain criteria are met. Example of a Schedule of Notes for a Commercial Zone in Hong Kong Commercial Column 1 Uses always permitted Ambulance Depot Commercial Bathhouse/massage establishment Eating Place Education Institution Exhibition or Convention Hall Government use (not elsewhere specified) Hotel Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries etc.…

Column 2 Uses that may be permitted with or without conditions on application to the Town Planning Board Broadcasting, television, and/or film studio Flat Government refuse collection point Hospital House Mass transit railway vent shaft and/or other structure above ground level other than entrances Petrol filling station etc.…

Source: Hong Kong Government (n.d.) 

How the planner in charge of the application, and Town Planning Board, makes a decision to allow the change of use is more ambiguous. When requesting a change of use the planner in charge of the case will consider a range of contextual and policy information but importantly will decide on each case on its own merits. This means that there is no certainty as to what decision will be made or exactly what weighting will be given to different issues when determining if a change of use is allowed or not. This hybrid system draws on the zoning approach of a regulatory system to ensure certainty for some developments while also providing the flexibility of a discretionary system to consider other uses.

Eight Themes of Analysis to Characterise Planning Systems


As noted already, planning systems are dynamic and tend to evolve through time as the issues they are expected to respond to and political priorities change. One of the axes along which they may shift over time is the continuum between legislation and policy designed to foster greater certainty in decision-making and that which is designed to facilitate more flexibility and discretion. Many regulatory systems are developing mechanisms to introduce more flexibility and allow the system to respond with more alacrity to uncertainty. In the Netherlands, for example, the traditional bestemmingsplan was a very detailed zoning plan, specifying building design, use, and layout. Whilst this system was characterised as very rigid, in practice some flexibility was built in so the development could align with the principles of the plan but the details be varied so the plans could be prepared to align to a pre-agreed development proposal. More recently zoning has specified the type of use, leaving the more detailed design of style, number of units, and layout to some form of later authorisation. These changes in part reflect the changing role of the public and private sectors in the development process, as already discussed earlier. When the state is very strong and plays an important role in delivering development then perhaps a more committed zoning master plan approach is more implementable. Similar experiences are observable in other regulatory planning systems. In the 1980s, Cordes (1989, p. 167), for example, recognised that zoning systems, at least in the United States, were not applying regulatory goals as strictly as originally envisioned, noting that: it is now widely recognized that current zoning practice little resembles [the early] notion of planned development, but instead places an emphasis on flexibility and change through the use of variances, special use permits, and rezoning … Under this approach rezoning decisions are basically used to make particularized decisions regarding the suitability of a proposed use and thus in effect administer land development on a case-by-case basis.

Some regulatory systems have thus, over time, drifted slowly towards the discretionary side of the spectrum as they seek to manage changing circumstances. Discretionary planning systems too have evolved in response to pressures for change. In England, for example, whilst there is ‘a presumption in favour of development’ (i.e. the onus is on providing reasons why development should not be approved), there is a longstanding narrative that the planning system is inconsistent in its decision-making, outcomes of planning applications are uncertain, and that therefore growth, development, and entrepreneurialism are being stifled by the slow operation of the system. Various mechanisms have been used to try and encourage development, Enterprise Zones that relax planning guidelines and quasi-public/ private Urban Development Corporations, where decision-making about what goes on within an area is taken away from local control. Membership of the EU had also brought English planning into contact with a different ‘regulatory style’ (Vogel, 1986), as EU legislation, notably on the environment, tended to have an outcome-­ orientation (Reid, 2012) and articulate ‘firm, substantive environmental targets and standards (e.g. for air quality), that are formal, uniform and relatively strict, with specific time frames for implementation’ (Cowell et  al., 2020, p.  575). This


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contrasts with the flexibility and discretion of the English planning tradition where individual development control decisions are made that ostensibly seek to balance different ‘material considerations’ (Booth, 2007). Combined with the EU’s institutionalised commitment to ‘a high level of environmental protection’; its adoption of the ‘precautionary principle’ (Burns et  al., 2016); and the scope for review and redress offered by access to the European Court of Justice, EU membership is perceived to have ‘underpinned significant substantive improvements in environmental quality and raised levels of environmental protection’ (Cowell et al., 2020; House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 2016). More recently, the 2016 Housing and Planning Act in England introduced a new form of development consent known as ‘permission in principle’. The idea is that this could effectively work by establishing the suitability of a site for development, including the type and quantum of development, and that creating a form of zoning plan—for example, on suitable brownfield sites—may give additional certainty to developers and speed up the planning process. There has been an debate in recent years about the introduction of more zoning into English planning which illustrates well some of the facets and ‘potential and pitfalls’ of international comparisons and policy transfer in planning discussed in Chaps. 3 and 4 (Box 5.11).

Box 5.11  Debating the Introduction of Zoning into a Discretionary Planning System: The Case of England

Since the 1980s the planning system in England has been the target of frequent criticism with accusations it acts as an impediment to development, notably contributing to a lack of housing (Sykes & O’Brien, 2018). The evidence to support this is highly contestable; however, the introduction of a regulatory zonal planning system has been debated and proposed at different times. This, it was claimed, informed by US practice, would create a faster and better planning system than the existing discretionary approach (Dembski & O’Brien, 2020). But were these proposals based on an oversimplified understanding of the differences between discretionary and regulatory models, neglecting, for example, the negotiation between stakeholders and the flexibility which also exists in regulatory planning systems? Dembski and O’Brien (2020) argue that key issues are when, and under what conditions, planning permission is given? The grounds on which it can be contested; and at which point there is discretion in the process? Under a regulatory system there is typically negotiation between municipalities and developers around issues such as design and provision of infrastructure which may feed into the adoption of a detailed zoning plan. This process can easily take as long as a planning application and determination process in a discretionary system. There is still extensive stakeholder engagement, including with the general public, and in some systems, there may be a direct local public vote on development proposals. Third-party rights of appeal are also more common in regulatory systems allowing those affected by plans, not only developers, (continued)

Capacity of the Planning System and Its Ability to Meet Its Expressed Planning…


Box 5.11  (continued)

a stronger say in the process. Arguments that the difference between a regulatory and discretionary system can be reduced to a ‘straight trade-off between certainty and democracy’ are therefore quickly revealed to be caricatural. There are also other aspects of regulatory systems that should be considered such as the extent of plan coverage. In Germany today, for example, detailed land use plans are almost exclusively drafted in response to proposed development and land use plans cover only ‘a fraction of the built-up area’ (Dembski & O’Brien, 2020). Development which meets the criteria is then permissible, but the scope for a developer to appeal, and for the municipality to depart from the land use plan, is limited. Dembski and O’Brien (2020) therefore argue that ‘Discretion is thus a relative concept, depending on the specific stage in the planning process analysed’. They thus conclude that ‘A zonal system is likely to provide more legal certainty and has the potential to deliver high-quality schemes, but it is unlikely to be faster unless the government removes any public scrutiny from planning’ and that ‘The point is perhaps not whether a planning system is zonal or discretionary, but whether it avoids making what is a false choice between delivery of new homes by any means possible and matching society’s preferences’. The debate is thus arguably a good example of the ‘pitfalls’ which can arise when comparisons are made between different states and systems with an intention of policy transfer (Sykes & Dembski, 2019), especially when underpinned by ideological motivations. Similarly, as Dolowitz and Marsh (2012, p. 341) comment, when discussing policy transfer and the policy cycle, ‘a politician might only seek basic information that he or she can use to defend a position’ and ‘the type of transferred data necessary to place an item on the broad governing agenda will be substantially different from the types of information needed to generate alternatives to a problem, which will be different again from the type of information necessary to develop a programme’. Viewed in these terms the debate on zonal planning in England is, it seems, very much at first base in terms of conceptual and empirical understandings of how this approach to planning works in practice in other places.

 apacity of the Planning System and Its Ability to Meet Its C Expressed Planning Objectives and Outcomes This theme considers how well planning as an activity is established in government and public life and whether the stated goals of the planning system are achieved in practice. It is important to recognise and understand that how a planning system performs in practice may be very different from how it has been structured in theory. This theme directs attention to interrelated questions such as: • is planning accepted and influential, or contested and weak in its influence? • does it have the resources and capacity to undertake the tasks assigned to it?


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• is the system working efficiently? • is there the institutional capacity to deliver? • how far does the system meet its expressed objectives? These questions  can be relevant in any global planning context both within developed and developing countries. They are also related to the role of and power relations  between the public and the private sector and other stakeholders, and importantly reflect the relative power of the public administration within which the planning function might be expected to operate. In many developed countries there is a well-established public administration. These public administrations often exercise a planning function. In other parts of the world the tradition of a public administration may be relatively new, weak, and in some cases, such as in conflict or post-disaster situations, perhaps non-existent—though this does not mean that planning does not occur but rather that it may do so in more informal ways that may still be effective in managing and negotiating land use. Often a weaker administrative capacity also coincides with areas where urbanisation rates are extremely high and there has been a tradition of a highly centralised form of governance. This is true, for example, in parts of Africa and South America. A related issue here is the availability of qualified planners who can provide a planning ‘workforce’ (Stiftel, 2021) to ‘operate’ the planning system. Work by the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) (2018) to survey the capacity of planning to assist in delivering the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda (see Chap. 6) revealed significant variation in the number of planners per capita in different countries. It was noted that the data underestimates the actual number of planners in a country ‘since not all planners are members of national associations’, but also observed that ‘the overall trends are clear’ and ‘The more developed countries have the highest number of planners per population’ (CAP, 2018, p. 4). The authors concluded that ‘Although no definitive benchmarks exist against which to assess the number of planners required’ the survey results provide clear evidence of a critical lack of capacity and significant shortfall in many countries of the Commonwealth many of which are urbanising rapidly’ (CAP, 2018, p.  4). As regards the potential to train more future planners, the report also pointed to a lack of ‘educational and institutional capacity to grow the profession fast enough in a number of Commonwealth countries’ (CAP, 2018, p. 6) (planning education is a theme returned to in Chap. 8). In Africa the public administration often faces severe capacity constraints, not just in terms of suitably qualified personnel, but also in terms of basic equipment and infrastructure. For example, in Ghana, with a population of about 24 million and a growth rate of 2.5% per annum, the planning system has a three-tier structure consisting of national government, 10 regional governments, and 170 district, municipal, and metropolitan authorities. Only just over half of the districts had any planning officer of some description in 2013, and the other districts were in effect served by those districts with some, but very limited planning capacity. In this context, plan coverage was poor, plans were out of date, the Statutory Planning Committee meetings (the local political body determining planning applications) met only infrequently, and formal decision-making was slow and ineffective. This was hardly surprising because there was no capacity to deliver due to a lack of staff posessing requisite planning skills

Capacity of the Planning System and Its Ability to Meet Its Expressed Planning…


and insufficient resources which were also being reduced. At a very basic level this meant planning officers could not travel to where planning applications were being submitted, computers if they existed did not work, and that  the planners were not trained to operate the systems. In such circumstances the formal systems of planning were very inefficient and people resorted to alternative informal, traditional, or customary systems of practice (Yeboah & Shaw, 2013). By contrast where the public sector is more established, the planning service may have a significant complement of professional and support staff. For example, Liverpool City Council in the north west of England, with a population of about 500,000, has a core planning service of approximately 50 staff, 80% of whom are professional planners. Though even within this context it is often argued that the planning service is under-resourced, and indeed there have been cuts in capacity over recent years. It is also important to note that a well-­resourced planning service does not mean that it is necessarily highly effective or efficient in the delivery of planning outcomes, but that it is more likely to be able to implement planning rules and regulations. Whilst, since the 1990s, there have been regular moves to update and reform planning systems, many systems still lack the authority, capacity, speed, and flexibility to meet rapidly changing societal needs. This clearly also has an impact on ‘the apparent distance between expressed goals for spatial development and outcomes’ (Nadin & Stead, 2013, p. 1551). Another theme of enquiry in characterising planning systems is, thus, how far they successfully perform the roles and deliver the goals that are attributed to them in legislation and policy. The extent to which this can be established will vary depending on the kinds of monitoring of the planning system which takes place and the data which is available. If comparison of planning systems is the goal then the methodological issues discussed in Chap. 4 will also need to be considered. The distance between expressed goals and planning outcomes is thus important to consider in characterising individual planning systems, but also increasingly relevant from an international perspective, because global agendas are increasingly placing expectations on planning, raising the question of whether these are always realistic. UN-HABITAT’s New Urban Agenda and the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (see Chap. 6) and the internal recognition of weaknesses in some current systems, combined with a need to address new challenges, are leading many countries to revisit whether their planning system is actually working and how it could be reformed to be more effective and better  address current planning and development  agendas (see Box 5.1).

Formality and Informality in Planning Closely related to the capacity of the planning system is the question of how much development in practice takes place under the auspices of the formal planning system, and how much is informal. Formal systems might be conceived as rules, laws, regulatory frameworks, and government policies; informality refers to planning practices that are systematic enough to identify, but are not officially written down or implemented by the state (Khan, 2010). In some settings, because formal planning


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systems cannot respond quickly enough to societal needs, or land ownership and/or land user rights are such that traditional planning mechanisms are inappropriate, or due to a combination of these and other factors; informal, unregulated development predominates. As a result ‘the production of urban space in developing countries often has little to do with the efforts of planners’ (Caprotti et al., 2017, p. 373). Whilst differentiating between formal and informal development implies a form of binary divide, it is important to remember that, as with formal planning systems, context matters. As a result, informal planning too is characterised by extreme heterogeneity and the form that informal development takes, and the stability, security, and permanence that it provides can vary enormously. There are diverse explanations as to why informal development is prevalent in some contexts. Colonial legacies provide one explanation, with old planning systems not being sufficiently modernised to address contemporary challenges which, combined with the lack of institutional and professional capacity discussed previously, means formal systems can be too slow, cumbersome, and insufficiently flexible to deal with the accelerating pace of urbanisation. As a consequence, unregulated or informal patterns of development have occurred. Though it would be wrong to assume all these developments are spontaneous, random, and chaotic. Indeed, for Caprotti et  al. (2017, p. 374), ‘Those operating in informal systems are particularly adept at creating geographic and livelihood spaces of their own making, without any plan to assist them’. Although terms such as ‘slums’ and ‘squatter settlements’ create an impression of disorder,  many of these informal  neighbourhoods display forms of organisation and/or self-organisation although not regulated and authorised by the state, even though some practices may have inadvertently been a consequence of state action. In Latin America, Varley (2013) describes the multiple ways that informal settlements have come to dominate the urban landscape, sometimes seen as a ‘resistance’ to the state and in other places facilitated by state action. For example, in Mexico, following land reforms the traditional land tenure system, the ejido, which granted agricultural user rights based on communal ties, enabled land to be sold, with purchases having a high degree of security. This led to rapid informal housing development especially in the urban fringe, accounting for up to 50% of Mexican housing development (Lombard, 2016). In Brazil, Varley (2013) reports how most informal settlers were not squatters nor living in favelas, but had acquired the land through informal land deals, some of which at least might have been endorsed and condoned by the state. Indeed, not all informality is of necessity a function of providing space for the urban poor or for those on the margins of society, although this tends to be the dominant narrative. But how the state responds to these informal ‘grey’ spaces is another dimension in this heterogeneity of informal development. They can be ‘whitened’ laundered from above, through being legitimised, valorised, or reclaimed through urban renewal, or ‘blackened’ with communities facing being evicted and the places destroyed (Yiftachel, 2009). In certain areas this urban renewal can be undertaken by organisations and institutions that are essentially antagonistic to the state. This was the case in the informal settlements in Medellin, Colombia, where the drug cartels invested in these areas and helped to create urban spaces that were ‘out of control’ and operating according to their own rules. In sub-Saharan Africa much of the land is held as customary land; in other words it belongs to the

Capacity of the Planning System and Its Ability to Meet Its Expressed Planning…


community and the Chiefs or village elders manage the land on behalf of the community. Land is not owned by individuals but they may have particular rights of use. In countries where customary land is the dominant ownership pattern—some estimates suggest that 90% of the land in sub-Saharan Africa is of this type (Boone, 2017)—development often occurs without the formal authority of the state. Instead, informal arrangements are made with the custodians of the land who exercise discretion in allowing development to occur. Hence, informal areas need to be characterised as places of diversity and heterogeneity, rather than homogeneity. They are places that have grown without formal state approval, although the state may well tacitly accept their evolution as fulfilling a critical urban need, but as also creating urban challenges. UN-HABITAT (2018, p. 9) thus argues that ‘To bring the benefits of Urban and Territorial Planning to residents of areas untouched by conventional approaches, it is necessary to tap into their local knowledge, and celebrate and nurture “informal planners”’. How this is to be achieved will require creativity, experimentation, and probably will not rely on formal planning systems and processes. Indeed, it was reported that in Zambia some professional planners felt that dealing with informality was not part of a professional planner’s work, with informality needing to be erased from urban areas (UN-HABITAT, 2018). However, as noted earlier, informality is an integral and important component of many of the cities of the Global South (Box 5.12), although the practices and spatial outcomes can vary enormously. It is within this context that ideas of self-organisation as a mechanism for achieving beneficial change are beginning to take root. These changes may be facilitated by a new type of planning focused on flexibility and understanding of local context and conditions with a view to problem solving. Thus Caprotti et al. (2017, p. 374) argue that ‘For the planner to make a meaningful contribution to the betterment of living conditions of those who need it most, a facilitative and enabling approach is necessary’ and that ‘This departs from the technocratic, planoriented approaches that often seek to formalize the informal’. Echoing this, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHSP) (2018, p. ix) state that: Planning also has to learn to embrace informality in the many parts of the world where it has become the dominant form of urban growth in employment and housing. This entails understanding informality, working and shaping it so that it becomes more productive rather than just being routinely penalised.

In practice, formal and informal systems interact in many ways to create distinct and diverse spatial outcomes. Goodfellow (2017), for example, uses the notion of political settlement, to develop an understanding of the distribution of power, which encompasses both formal institutions and rights, and informal mechanisms such as patronage, to explore how different capital cities in sub-Saharan Africa are developing. Using three case studies of Kampala (Uganda), Kigali (Rwanda), and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), he identifies three different patterns of urban development which reflect the inter-relationships between state patronage and the application or non-­ application of laws and rules. In Kampala, in order to retain support, the state ignored formal rules over building codes and land allocation, and instead relied on patronage as a means of maintaining power. The result was a dysfunctional free-for-all which Goodfellow (2017) characterised as the ‘city as a market place’. In Kigali, ‘the city


5  Characterising Planning Systems

as an Expo’, there is a strong adherence to the application of formal rules and a zerotolerance approach to corruption and the city is portrayed externally as a location for secure, orderly, and forward-looking development. In Addis Ababa, ‘the city as a construction site’, there has been very rapid development in recent years. This has been facilitated by rapid investment in the capital by the Ethiopian diaspora who are only allowed to invest in real estate, combined with the state promoting a public housing programme and ownership and control of the land, a legacy of Ethiopia’s Communist history. What these vignettes illustrate is that despite formal rules and regulations associated with a ‘formal’ planning system, what actually happens on the ground is also shaped by various forms of power relations and clientelism. Box 5.12  Informal Planning in Sierra Leone

Freetown, the largest city in Sierra Leone, is unique, but typical of many cities in sub-Saharan Africa as recent urbanisation pressures have been overlain on a post-colonial plan which is not fit-for-purpose, neither in the tools it employs nor in the capacity of the system to deliver agreed plans. It is a story that illustrates the challenges faced by formal planning systems, designed to meet a specific purpose, which are overwhelmed by development pressures that leave the majority of the population living in informal, unplanned developments which lack access to basics services (83% had no access to water-borne sewerage, 75% had no access to fresh drinking water, instead relying on street vendors), and increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters (especially landslides and flooding due to building in unsuitable environments combined with removal of vegetation that provided some slope stability).

Source: Government of Sierra Leone and OCHA ROWCA, Creative Commons License. (continued)

Capacity of the Planning System and Its Ability to Meet Its Expressed Planning…


Box 5.12  (continued)

Early colonial planning, as with much of sub-Saharan Africa, was concerned with the economic and administrative needs of the colonial power and often with a view to restricting and separating indigenous and immigrant communities typically on the somewhat spurious grounds of health protection. At this time rural to urban migration was also strictly controlled. Following independence in 1961, Freetown’s population stood at approximately 120,000. Since then rapid rural to urban migration has been exacerbated by major shocks including a civil war, which started in 1991 and saw 500,000 displaced people, many of whom fled to Freetown. By the time the war ended in 2002, the population had risen to 700,000, and with only two recognised planning staff it is hardly surprising the formal planning system failed to cope, despite several attempts to produce formal plans, which have been supported by various aid agencies such as UNDP and the EU. Most development in the city is therefore informal, and the weakness of the national and local economy, the lack of institutional capacity, and the absence of planners limit the extent to which a formal planning approach can address the challenges outlined above. Source: Lynch et al. (2020)

Whilst many examples cited here illustrate the importance of informality to planning outcomes in the Global South, such dynamics and the influence of informal political settlements are also present and influence planning outcomes in the Global North. Indeed, informal planning has always been a feature of the Global North. As Silva (2020) notes, in the 1980s for instance, 10% of the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, was made up of slums and other forms of informal, unapproved, development. He goes on to characterise different ways that cities in the Global North have sought to deal with such informal settlements. The first being the simple eviction and removal of residents and buildings such as through bulldozing and forced removal, the second sees planning rules changed to accommodate the informality as a way of ‘saving face’, while the third sees a co-evolution of planning systems to work with the characteristics of informality to upgrade informal sites. Informal, though often small scale, developments continue to exist throughout the Global North to this day as individuals ignore planning rules, such as in London where sheds have been illegally converted for residential use (Lombard, 2019) or in Rome where dis-used industrial buildings have been occupied for housing (Grazioli, 2017). Informality therefore is ever present regardless of the institutionalisation of planning within a country or the professional capacity of decision-makers and takes many forms under a range of contexts. There is also a body of work that argues that the formal–informal distinction is oversimplified. Sundaresan (2019, p.  2), for example, proposes ‘to rethink many foundational ontological dualisms like the formal/informal, state/society, governing/governed and plan/violation, among others’. Based on research in Bangalore, he argues that planning violations are ‘not to be understood as a deviation from


5  Characterising Planning Systems

planning’, but rather as ‘the outcome of the particular kind of planning practice’ in the city. This practice is ‘an interactive domain inhabited by both private and public interest networks formed of people from inside and outside the government and striving for private and public interest outcomes respectively’ (Sundaresan, 2019, p. 2). Furthermore, ‘norms and the notion of public interest may vary according to time, place and the observer—for example, political activism often involves campaigns for changing the rules by actively or passively breaking them’ (Sundaresan, 2019, p. 5). Therefore, the notion that planning is limited to ‘what is formal’ may underplay the networked nature of planning practice and ‘the wide assemblages (across political geographic scales) of governing networks and their transactions’ that shape planning (Sundaresan, 2019, p. 2). What we see from the passages in this section is a growing understanding of informality in planning as not being an approach to development and planning simply limited to the urban poor of developing countries—the focus of much initial work on the phenomenon. But as something practised by others, including the wealthy, and in a variety of ways by states themselves in different settings.

Summary Around the world the form, role, and scope of planning systems are shaped by history, culture, and administrative and political contexts. This chapter has explored different ways of characterising these systems through what we have termed ‘themes of enquiry’. A number of key issues can be identified. It is important to appreciate what is understood by ‘planning’ and the scope of the ‘planning system’ and be aware of other ‘systems of planning’ in different places. Whereas the focus of the present text is clearly on what UN-HABITAT describes as Urban and Territorial Planning, the scope of planning varies in different places, with other parallel systems—for example, those aimed at promoting economic development-commonly being described as planning systems and using economic tools described as plans. Some of the heuristic devices outlined earlier, notably the ‘4 planning traditions’ approach of the EU Compendium, allow this to be considered in distinguishing between ‘regional economic’ and ‘land use’ and ‘urbanism’ traditions of planning and recognising these can co-exist in one state. When researching planning internationally (e.g. using the internet to find information) care is needed to consider these issues. It may be useful to distinguish between ‘planning systems’ and ‘systems of planning’. In light of the issues outlined previously, care needs to be taken to ensure that understandings of planning derived from one context do not lead to misleading conclusions in another. For example, a familiarity with a ‘land use planning’ tradition could lead to other important aspects of planning, notably its relationships with other policy sectors, being dismissed as ‘not planning’. As noted by UNHSP (2018, p.  7), however, ‘Planning systems vary between countries’ and to take an



excessively ‘purist’ view based on a single perspective of planning might be to ignore important aspects of how planning systems work in practice, and interact with other formal and informal interests and systems that ‘plan’. Planning systems are both technical and political entities, and their form and the power and influence they exert derive from how states are configured—for example, with regard to administrative and legal systems and traditions. The latter vary between different places and can shape how planning is defined and practised and its outcomes. However, the nature and capacity of planning systems in practice cannot necessarily be ‘read off’ from ‘structuralist’ analysis of such elements (Reimer & Blotevogel, 2012, p. 7). Planning capacity, practices, and outcomes will also depend on wider contextual factors such as the efficiency and effectiveness of the public administration more generally, the way the market works, and the degree of engagement and interest from the civil society. Notions such as ‘planning culture’ as explored in Chap. 3 seek to account for these broader contextual factors. In many parts of the world, formal planning systems are being bypassed and development is taking place through informal practices in response to community needs. These informal ‘systems of planning’ mean that ‘The production of urban space in developing countries often has little to do with the efforts of planners’ but that nevertheless ‘the city is already being planned’ and arguably ‘the best way to optimize livelihoods is by working with these systems’ (Caprotti et al., 2017, pp. 373–374). UN-HABITAT (2018, p. 26) states that ‘the planning system should also be considered as the combined performance of ‘planning in theory’ and ‘planning in practice’. The capacity of the planning system to act is also an important factor in characterising planning systems—the system and its goals as legislated for and expressed ‘in theory’ do not necessarily reflect the reality and outcomes on the ground. It is crucial when seeking to characterise planning systems, especially when making any comparisons, to remain critical, reflective, and sensitive to context. Even experienced researchers can sometimes fall into the trap of making simplistic comparisons. There are some well-known tropes, ‘shibboleths’, ‘commonly held’ views, and oversimplifications within the field such as those relating to ‘Flexibility versus Certainty’ in discretionary and regulatory systems (Steele & Ruming, 2012; Dembski & O’Brien, 2020). These can appear with alarming frequency in cross-­ national comparisons and debates on policy transfer. It should be remembered, too, that often one of the most valuable things about considering how different planning systems work and perform in the ways they do is the critical reflection it can stimulate on how the systems with which we are familiar operate and the assumptions on which they are based. There is certainly much to be learnt from characterising and comparing systems, but it needs to be undertaken with care. A number of helpful heuristics and frameworks have evolved to help with the characterisation and comparison of planning systems. These can be very useful aids and some have informed, and been incorporated, into the ‘themes of enquiry’ outlined above. However, they need to be used with caution as inevitably they cannot anticipate every situation and can potentially lead to misleading assumptions. Some of these tools have been developed in specific contexts, for example, in Europe where the diversity of planning systems in a compact region of the globe, and the


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opportunities offered by European integration, led to a flourishing of work on characterising and comparing systems from the 1980s onwards. However, there may be drawbacks in using frameworks developed in one context in different settings—for example, those approaches that use formal legal and administrative structures to develop categorisations of planning systems may be less well adapted to characterising planning systems in other global contexts (e.g. where much, or most, development takes place in the informal sector). Here, the ‘cultural’ turn in comparative planning studies outlined in Chap. 3 may complement ‘classic’ approaches to categorising planning systems that focus on administrative and legal structures, by offering ‘synoptic’ and nuanced forms of analysis and characterisation that account for the embeddedness of systems in wider distinctive and diverse contexts. Planning systems are dynamic rather than static and subject to periodic reforms of their structures and redefinition of their goals. Change may be driven by domestic views that a planning system is sub-optimal, in terms of its capacity to make plans and regulate development, and/or deliver its expressed outcomes. International influences may also drive change, for example, the perception that greater capacity to act, especially in urban areas, is essential to deal with global sustainability challenges (see Chap. 6). Apparent convergence between systems can thus be driven by either domestic and/or international influences, and caution is needed in drawing conclusions to ensure that reforms are attributed to the right causes in different contexts. It is to the global agenda for planning that the following chapter now turns. Exercise 5.1  Design a Planning System!

You/your team have been commissioned by a newly independent state to make a proposal for the introduction of a new planning system which can deliver the goals of sustainable development and provide a legal structure for the regulation of land use rights. The country is not large by global standards, having an area of about 80,000 square kilometres. It has a population of around 5.5 million and a rather mixed settlement pattern with different regions having different population densities. There are some major cities where most of the population reside but also sparsely populated more mountainous and island territories. The country has many valuable natural habitats, both terrestrial and coastal/marine, cultural landscapes and heritage assets, many of which are protected by international designations (e.g. RAMSAR and UNESCO status). The economy has been growing in recent years and the country has an abundance of traditional and renewable energy sources. The new nation no longer forms part of a single market, or customs union, with its nearest neighbour with which it shares a land border creating a possible need to develop new infrastructure. There is a need for labour to sustain the economy and the country is generally open to new migrants who are viewed as contributing to its development. The government sees planning as key tool and way of supporting the country’s first steps and development as an independent state. (continued)



Exercise 5.1  (continued)

Issues to consider: 1. What kind of regulatory framework might be established to manage land use and land use rights? 2. At which scales might planning be required—national, regional, sub-­ regional, and/or local? 3. How far should substantive planning goals be embedded into the core legislation which establishes the framework of the planning system; or should this provide a framework to be complemented by more specific and adaptable planning policy? 4. Connected to issues 2 and 3, should some form of national plan, strategy, or planning framework be introduced? 5. Are there any planning issues which require particular cross-border coordination and cooperation with adjoining states and the wider regional context for the new state?

Exercise 5.2  Comparing Planning Systems

Many of the ideas and themes introduced in this chapter really come to life when one starts to think about the characteristics of particular planning systems and tries to compare them and think about how well they actually work in practice to fulfil their stated objectives. This exercise requires you to consider planning in a number of countries from different parts of the globe. How you divide the world is entirely up to you; it could be based on geography (the  Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania), or development trajectories (developed, economies in transition, and developing countries), or per capita income (high-income, middle-upper income, lower-middle income or low-­ income countries). The latter two classifications are used by many global organisations such as the UN and the OECD to categorise countries around the world (see discussion  in Chap. 1 on ‘Talking about different kinds of countries, states, and parts of the world’). The number of countries is also dependent on whether you are doing the exercise on an individual basis or as a group project, but selecting between three and five countries should allow interesting comparisons to emerge. For each country you will need to describe the characteristics of the planning system in relation to the following factors: • What is the role and function of plans at different levels of planning? • Is it a ‘discretionary’, or ‘committed/regulatory’ system, or perhaps a ‘hybrid’ system with elements of both approaches? • Is it centralised or decentralised? (continued)


5  Characterising Planning Systems

Exercise 5.2  (continued)

• Is the system distant or close to achieving its stated objectives (i.e. does the system ‘work’ or not)? • Are there any noticeable trends over time (what has/is happening to the system, is it evolving, and if so why)? • Try locating systems along the axes on the chart below and indicating direction of change over time, if relevant.

Some things to bear in mind—This is a qualitative evaluation of how planning systems are working, always recognising that no system is perfect, and that because planning is an inherently political activity it is increasingly being called upon to respond to national and global agendas (delivering affordable housing, creating attractive places, responding to the climate change emergency etc). The capacity of planning systems to deliver the goals which are attributed to them varies for many different contextual reasons. As UN-HABITAT (2018, p. 26) comments, ‘the planning system should also be considered as the combined performance of ‘planning in theory’ and ‘planning in practice’’. This might lead to questions such as : are the plans that the system is supposed to produce actually prepared and regularly updated in practice; does the system effectively manage and regulate development, or are there significant quantities of unregulated, unauthorised or illegal development; and, does the system work ‘on the ground’ as well as ‘on paper’ (i.e. as expressed through planning legislation, policies, and programmes)?



References Allmendinger, P. (2009). Performance improvements and delay in development control. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Urban Design and Planning, 162(2), 79–86. Arup, University of Liverpool and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2022). Cities Alive designing cities that work for women, Arup, Retrieved 06 November 2022 https://www.arup. com/perspectives/publications/research/section/cities-alive-designing-cities-that-work-for-women Berisha, E., Cotella, G., Janin Rivolin, U., & Solly, A. (2020). Spatial governance and planning systems and the public control of spatial development: A European typology. European Planning Studies, 29, 181. Bhattacharya, S., Patro, S. A., Vaidyanathan, V., & Rathi, S. (2016). Localising the gender equality goal through urban planning tools in South Asia. Overseas Development Institute. Boone, C. (2017). Sons pf the soil conflict in Africa: Institutional determinants of ethnic conflict over land. World Development, 96(2017), 276–293. Booth, P. A. (1986). Introduction. In I. Masser & R. Williams (Eds.), Learning from other countries. Geo Books. Booth, P. (2003). Planning by consent: The origins and nature of British Development Control. Routledge. Booth, P. (2007). The control of discretion: Planning and the common law tradition. Planning Theory, 6(2), 127–145. Burns, C., Jordan, A., Gravey, V., Berny, N., Bulmer, S., Carter, N., Cowell, R., Dutton, J., Moore, B., Oberthür, S., Owens, S., Rayner, T., Scott, J. & Stewart, B. (2016). The EU Referendum and the UK environment: An expert review. Retrieved from http://environmenteuref.blogspot.­us.html Caprotti, F., Cowley, R., Datta, A., Castán Broto, V., Gao, E., Georgeson, L., Herrick, C., Odendaal, N., & Joss, S. (2017). The new urban agenda: Key opportunities and challenges for policy and practice. Urban Research & Practice, 10(3), 367–378. Carmona, M., Heath, T., Oc, T., & Tiesdell, S. (2003). Urban spaces—Public places: The dimensions of urban design. Architectural Press. Commission of the European Communities (CEC). (1997). The EU compendium of spatial planning systems and policies. Regional Development Studies, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Commonwealth Association of Planners. (2018). Survey of the planning profession in the commonwealth. CAP. Cordes, M. (1989). Policing bias and conflicts of interest in zoning decision making. North Dakota Law Review, 65(2), 161–218. Cornish, G. (2018). Women and EIA processes: A case study on gender aspects of EIA in four Myanmar projects. Sustainable Development Knowledge Network. Cowell, R., Ellis, G., Fischer, F. T., Jackson, T., Muinzer, T., & Sykes, O. (2020). Integrating planning and environmental protection: An analysis of post-Brexit regulatory styles and practitioner attitudes in the UK. Planning Theory and Practice, 21(4), 570–590. Davies, H. W. E., Edwards, D., Hooper, A. P., & Punter, J. V. (1989). Planning control in Western Europe. HMSO. Demazière, C., Desjardins, X., & Sykes, O. (Eds.). (2020). La gouvernance des métropoles et des régions urbaines en Europe: Des réformes institutionnelles aux coopérations territoriales. PUCA. Dembski, S., & O’Brien, P. (2020). The myth of zoning: The European experience. Town and Country Planning, 2020(Aug), 281–284. Desjardins, X. (2018). Greater Paris and its lessons for metropolitan strategic planning. Town Planning Review, 89(1), 1–22. Dolowitz, D.  P., & Marsh, D. (2012). The future of policy transfer research. Political Studies Review, 10, 339–345. Edwards, M. (2004). Civil society. Polity Press.


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Pinson, G., & Morel Journel, C. (2016). Beyond neoliberal imposition: State–local cooperation and the blending of social and economic objectives in French Urban Development Corporations. Territory Politics and Governance, 4(2), 173–195. Reid, C. (2012). A new sort of duty? The significance of “outcome” duties in the climate change and child poverty acts. Public Law, 2012(4), 749–767. Reimer, M., & Blotevogel, H. H. (2012). Comparing spatial planning practice in Europe: A plea for cultural sensitization planning. Practice and Research, 27(1), 7–24. Reimer, M., Getimis, P., & Blotevogel, H. (2014). Spatial planning systems and practices in Europe: A comparative perspective on continuity and changes. Routledge. Ruming, K., & Gurran, N. (2014). Australian planning system reform. Australian Planner, 51(2), 102–107. Satsangi, M., Hoolachan, A., O'Brien, P., Dembski, S., Dunning, R., & Lord, A. (2020). Housing land allocation, assembly and delivery: Lessons from Europe. Scottish Land Commission. Silva, P. (2020). Not so much about informality: Emergent challenges for urban planning and design education. Sustainability, 12(8450), 1–16. Steele, W., & Ruming, K. J. (2012). Flexibility versus certainty: Unsettling the land-use planning shibboleth in Australia. Planning Practice and Research, 27(2), 155–176. Stiftel, B. (2021). Planners and the new urban agenda: Will we lead the agenda, or will the agenda lead us? Town Planning Review, 92(4), 421–441. Sundaresan, J. (2019). Urban planning in vernacular governance: Land use planning and violations in Bangalore India. Progress in Planning 1271-23 S0305900616301441 10.1016/j. progress.2017.10.001 Sunikka-Blank, M., Bardhan, R., & Haque, A. N. (2019). Gender, domestic energy and design of inclusive low-income habitats: A case study of slum rehabilitation in Mumbai, India. Energy Research and Social Science, 49, 53–67. Sykes, O., & Dembski. (2019). Cross-national comparative research in planning–some things to consider. Town and Country Planning, 88(7), 312–319. Sykes, O. J., & O’Brien, P. (2018). Regions to be fearful? Town and Country Planning, 96–99. Tewdwr-Jones, M. J. (1999). Discretion, flexibility, and certainty in British planning: Emerging ideological conflicts and inherent political tensions. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 18(3), 244–256. Tang, B., et al. (2000). Certainty and discretion in planning control: A case study of office development in Hong Kong. Urban Studies, 37(13), 2465–2483. U.S.  Supreme Court. Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365 (1926). Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co. No. 31. Argued January 27, 1926. UN-Habitat. (2009). Planning sustainable cities (p.  106). United Nations Human Settlement Programme. UN-Habitat. (2016). World cities report 2016: Urbanization and development - Emerging futures. United Nations Human Settlements Programme. UN-Habitat. (2018). Leading change: Delivering the new urban agenda through urban and territorial planning. UN-Habitat. UNHSP. (2018). Leading Change: Delivering the New Urban Agenda through Urban and Territorial Planning. UN-Habitat. Kuala Lumpur. Varley, A. (2013). Post-colonialising informality? Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 31(1), 4–22. Vogel, D. (1986). National styles of regulation. Environmental policy in Great Britain and the United States. Cornell University Press. Williams, R. H. (1996). European Union spatial policy and planning. Chapman Publishing. Yeboah, E., & Shaw, D.  P. (2013). Customary land tenure practices in Ghana: Examining the relationship with land-use planning delivery. International Development Planning Review, 35(1), 21–39. Yiftachel, O. (2009). Theoretical notes on gray cities’: The coming of urban apartheid? Planning Theory, 8(1), 88–100.


A Global Agenda for Planning

Introduction: Planning ‘Above and Beyond’ the State (1) Researching and comparing, planning systems, policies, programmes, plans, and the planning experiences of specific places and different countries from an international perspective has been the mainstay of ‘classical’ comparative planning studies. Thus, the previous chapter considered how planning and planning systems within nation states can be characterised. However, contemporary international planning studies often require consideration of the context for planning provided by international scales, planning challenges, strategies, and policy goals ‘above and beyond’ the nation state scale. As UN-HABITAT (2018, p. ix) notes, ‘UTP [urban and territorial planning] will be practised at regional, metropolitan and national, and indeed, transnational levels as well as the local level’. One theme of analysis in international planning studies is therefore how far international contexts influence how planning evolves and is practised in different places. Today, policy goals and aspirations are defined internationally in response to substantive challenges which have been identified as being important and relevant globally, or ‘regionally’, across a range of transnational, national, or transboundary scales and  contexts. As we shall see later, notions of sustainable and resilient development often provide a leitmotif of such reflection and goal setting in policy pronouncements and strategies. The latter may be articulated through a variety of institutional settings and have varying degrees of ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ influence. For example, some international planning-relevant goals and objectives may be underwritten by legally binding international, or ‘supranational’ agreements and obligations, whereas others may have a more persuasive influence achieved through their promotion by certain funding programmes, through the diffusion of certain planning concepts across the international planning community, or by ‘best practice’ and benchmarking exercises. The influence of the

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 O. Sykes et al., International Planning Studies, Planning, Environment, Cities,



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international context for planning provided by such initiatives also varies from place to place—for example, countries which are member states of the EU, or which receive substantial international development aid, may find that spatial development and planning are more related to, and influenced by, scales of reflection and action ‘above and beyond’ the state. The present chapter focusses on global institutions, policies, and influences on planning such as those which have emerged under the auspices of the UN and its various agencies and policies. We see these as defining a ‘global agenda for planning’ (GAP) as opposed to a ‘global planning agenda’ given their wide scope and the fact that, whilst in most cases the measures and goals they promulgate cannot strictly be defined as planning initiatives, they nevertheless create a context for, and may influence, planning practices and outcomes. Chapter 7 then examines different ways that transnational contexts shape planning, considering cross-border planning, and the settings for planning provided by transnational institutions and initiatives which have emerged in different global regions.

International Planning Doctrines and Goals: An Old Story? As already outlined in earlier chapters, there has long been an international dimension to planning with development challenges in different countries leading to the adoption, or transfer, of various planning goals and solutions in response to these. The creation of planning systems with provision for the making of plans and policies across different scales provided the context for such planning goals to be pursued in a variety of ways in different countries. Beyond this emergence of planning ‘internationally’ and often contemporaneously in different places, cross-national exchanges of experience and knowledge about the building of human settlements also have a long history which predates the emergence of modern planning systems—e.g. through the expansion of empires since antiquity. From the latter half of the nineteenth century onwards, however, there were increasing international reflections on the forms that planning should take and the goals it should pursue from new actors such as professional bodies (see Chap. 2). The Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne (CIAM) (International Congress of Modern Architecture) was a notable example of this, promoting notions of the ‘Functional City’ and modernist architecture and urban planning. This eventually resulted in the Athens Charter, of 1943, whose ideas had a big influence on planning around the world, including on formally adopted plans. But this was not an ‘official’ set of planning goals in the sense of being formalised as national, supranational, or international ‘policy’. Despite the history of international exchanges in, and diffusion of planning, it is only more recently that ‘policy’ and goals for planning and development have been elaborated at international, and (less often) at supranational scales, setting, a more or less, influential normative context for planning. Since the 1940s, the actions of international development agencies have promoted development objectives internationally. More recently, the cycle of UN-HABITAT meetings, Agenda 21, the setting of Millennium Goals, closely followed by the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and the UN’s New Urban Agenda have all provided a wider setting which positions planning as an

The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning


Table 6.1  Scales and spaces of ‘planning above and beyond the state’ Scale/space Global

Transnational (bridging global regions) Transnational and supranational (global region) Transnational (within global regions) Cross-border planning

Examples of institutional settings and policies Principally framed by the UN and its agencies; UN Sustainable Development Goals; UN New Urban Agenda; International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning; Paris Climate Change Agreement; UNESCO World Heritage Committee; World Health Organisation (WHO); Aid agencies; World Bank China’s Belt and Road Policy and the nascent (2022) Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment Forms of transnational cooperation under intergovernmental and supranational frameworks—for example, EU legislation and policy which can impact planning Transnational strategies for parts of a global region—for example, EU promoted ‘macro-regions’ (Baltic Sea; Danube Basin, etc.) Initiatives and strategies that seek to address planning issues across national borders whether through formal, or more informal, mechanisms

activity integral to achieving global development objectives (Reyes et al., 2020). The emergence of trade agreements and steps towards greater transnational regional collaboration in some parts of the globe have also provided a context for planning, notably, but not exclusively, in Europe. This may generate goals in areas of policy which can have an influence on planning at a variety of spatial scales, again with varying degrees of binding influence (see Table 6.1). Meanwhile the strategic geopolitical and economic agendas of certain nations and new international relationships can find spatial expression in their approaches to investing transnationally with one notable contemporary example being the ‘Belt and Road’ strategy being pursued by the Chinese government. This chapter, and the next, explore how the development of institutions, goals, and initiatives at scales ‘above and beyond the state’ constitute an international context for planning.

The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning From Post-war Reconstruction to Development Aid In the period following the 1940s various development agencies from individual countries and  the newly created United Nations  (UN) and its agencies started to promote development objectives in different places. These focussed on economic social and environmental goals such as poverty alleviation and, from the latter decades of the twentieth century, increasingly on promoting sustainable development, typically through investment in large-scale infrastructure and human development. Often the granting of such aid, or other investments, was made conditional on recipients adhering to certain conditions. These could affect aspects of planning, leading to a process that Ward (1999) qualifies as ‘negotiated imposition’ of planning practice through conditionality of foreign aid. In 1944, the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development was established, initially to provide loans and


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help countries recover from  the devastation of World War II.  It quickly became known as the World Bank—now technically titled the World Bank Group—that oversees the activities of five main bodies including the International Financial Corporation, International Development Association, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. Because the World Bank provides significant investments, for example, these were worth over $60 billion in 2015, it seeks to protect these by promoting certain planning practices. The activities of such agencies can influence planning, for example, through the requirement to introduce  Environmental Impacts Assessment (EIA) processes for large infrastructure projects, the promotion of notions of good governance and sound land-based policies, or the sharing of best practices (Box 6.1). The actions of various national aid agencies have also contributed to the diffusion of ideas and practices of planning (see Chap. 2). Over time, the focus of international development activity has broadened from its initial concern with social issues of poverty alleviation typically in rural contexts, to the promotion of wider integrated development objectives across, both rural and urban territories. This is well illustrated by the rise of the international sustainable development agenda which is addressed in the following sub-section.

Box 6.1  World Bank Environmental and Social Standards

The World Bank Environmental and Social Framework sets out the World Bank’s commitment to sustainable development and includes a set of ten ‘Environmental and Social Standards’ (ESS). These set out the requirements for Borrowers to identify, assess, and ideally mitigate the environmental and social risks and impacts associated with projects supported by World Bank funding. The Bank believes that meeting these standards will support Borrowers to reduce poverty and increase prosperity in a sustainable manner for the benefit of the environment and their citizens. This can involve the use of tools which are familiar to planners and whose application is often associated with planning processes such as ‘regional or sectoral EIA; strategic environmental and social assessment (SESA)’ or ‘specialized methods and tools for assessment, for example a Cultural Heritage Management Plan’. Many of the ESSs have links to planning agendas including, for example, 1: Assessment and Management; 5: Land Acquisition, Restrictions on Land Use and Involuntary Resettlement; 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources; 7: Indigenous Peoples/Sub-­ Saharan African Historically Underserved Traditional Local Communities; 8: Cultural Heritage; and 10: Stakeholder Engagement and Information Disclosure. But this does not always imply a close integration with the planning system. For example, though ESS 5 ‘applies to permanent or temporary physical and economic displacement’ resulting from a variety of types of ‘land acquisition or restrictions on land use undertaken or imposed in connection with project implementation’, it is also explicitly stated that ‘This ESS (continued)

The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning


Box 6.1  (continued)

does not apply to land use planning or the regulation of natural resources to promote their sustainability on a regional, national or subnational level (including watershed management, groundwater management, fisheries management, and coastal zone management)’. Instead ‘Where a project supports such activities, the Borrower will be required to conduct a social, legal and institutional assessment under ESS1, in order to identify potential economic and social risks and impacts of the planning or regulation, and appropriate measures to minimize and mitigate them, in particular those that affect poor and vulnerable groups’. Text adapted from: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/ The World Bank (2017)

The Rise of the International Sustainability Agenda The emergence of a global agenda for planning is inextricably linked to the international rise of the sustainability agenda in the latter decades of the twentieth century. A foundational moment of this was the publication of the report of the Brundtland Commission, Our Common Future, in 1987 (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987) which introduced many to the concept of sustainable development as a means of balancing societal needs, economic growth, and the carrying capacity of the natural environment. Its definition of sustainable development as ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ rapidly became established as the core definition of the concept. There were many who criticised the notion of a ‘three legged’ stool of environment, society, and economy as comprising sustainable development, pointing out that the first of these elements provided the fundamental, thus more important, context for the nurturing of the latter two, but the concept soon gained traction becoming almost the doctrine of the age. As Reyes et al. (2020, p. 346) note, ‘From the 1987 Brundtland report and the 1992 Rio Earth Summit that informed HABITAT II, to the more recent development of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sustainability has risen to the forefront as the most central, albeit nebulous, policy paradigm in current UN-HABITAT thinking’. The 1990s saw the flourishing of initiatives across different scales couched in terms of promoting sustainable development, as international, supranational, national, regional, and local institutions sought to position and rationalise their policies, plans and programmes in the terms of the new orthodoxy. In 1992, at the Rio Earth Summit over 178 countries signed up to a new initiative called Agenda 21. This was aimed at forging a global partnership which would promote sustainable development as a means of improving human lives and protecting the environment, through proactive engagement of a wide range of stakeholders including


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government, the private sector, NGOs, and civil society, working collectively in partnership to build a consensual ‘Agenda for the 21st Century’. Its influence across many countries was considerable with real mobilisation and results being achieved in some places. But as ever, context played an important role and Agenda 21 was enthusiastically taken up in some places but not others with a corresponding variety of experiences and levels of success. By 2000, the turn of the century and the arrival of a new millennium, focussed minds, and at a ‘Millennium Summit’ held in New York, UN Member States unanimously adopted a Millennium Declaration. This led to the adoption of eight MDGs, with a key aspiration of reducing extreme poverty by 2015. The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and  a Plan of Implementation followed, in 2002, reaffirming the global community’s commitment to the aspirational target of poverty eradication and protecting the environment. In 2012, 20 years after the first Earth Summit, a UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) was again held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Here UN Member States adopted a document entitled The Future We Want which started a process of developing a set of 17 interconnected thematic ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) to follow on from the MDGs and be monitored by a UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Between 2013 and 2015, 17 new SDGs, 169 associated targets, and 230 indicators were developed as part of a document Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN, 2015). This was formally  adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit held in September 2015 and articulated as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (see Fig. 6.1). Also in 2015, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change set new targets for climate change mitigation, committing nation states to developing their own nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to ensure that earth warming is kept below 2 °C. With cities collectively emitting 70% of the CO2 emissions, many local governments are declaring a climate change emergency, and committing themselves and their citizens to action in support of responding to this crisis. Whilst some actions might involve energy efficiency measures, others may involve a reordering or restructuring of urban areas, with potentially significant implications for planning.

An Evolving Place for Planning in the Sustainability Agenda The growing focus on urban issues in the international development agenda has seen the importance of planning in helping to deliver sustainable development receive increasing attention. As Reyes et  al. (2020) demonstrate (Fig.  6.2) the 20-year cycle of UN-HABITAT conferences in particular has contributed to this, focussing attention on issues such as informal settlements (1976), the right to shelter, and promotion of sustainable communities (1996), and, most recently, with the adoption of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) at the HABITAT III conference (2016), on the goal of making cities more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning


Fig. 6.1  The UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2015). https://www.

Fig. 6.2  The Timeline of UN-HABITAT and Sustainable Development Conferences (1976-2016). Source: Reyes et al. (2020, p. 338) Note: The content of this publication has not been approved by the United Nations and does not reflect the views of the United Nations or its officials or Member States

Alongside such major conferences and political agreements, there has been continuing analysis and reflection on the role that planning can and should play and how it needs to evolve to contribute to the achievement of such goals. Stiftel (2021, p.  425) notes how, ‘At the first World Urban Forum in Vancouver in 2006, UN-HABITAT argued for a reinvented urban planning that fostered inclusion, built bottom-up consensus, and adopted a comprehensive approach going far beyond traditional master planning’. A particularly valuable contribution to this debate came in 2009 with  the publication of the report Planning Sustainable Cities: Global Report on Human Settlements 2009 which assessed ‘the effectiveness of urban planning as a tool for dealing with the unprecedented challenges facing 21st.-century cities and for enhancing sustainable urbanization’ (UN-HABITAT 2009, p. vi). This argued that ‘future urban planning must take place within an understanding of the factors shaping 21st-century cities’ (see Box 6.2).


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Box 6.2  Current and Future Urban Challenges (UN-HABITAT, 2009)

• the environmental challenges of climate change and cities’ excessive dependence on fossil fuels; • demographic challenges of rapid urbanization, rapid growth of small- and medium-sized towns and an expanding youth population in developing nations, and, in developed nations, the challenges of shrinking cities, ageing and the increasing multicultural composition of cities; • economic challenges of uncertain future growth and fundamental doubts about market-led approaches that the 2008 global financial crisis engendered, as well as increasing informality in urban activities; • increasing socio-spatial challenges, especially social and spatial inequalities, urban sprawl and unplanned periurbanization; and, • challenges and opportunities of increasing democratization of decision-­ making as well as increasing awareness of social and economic rights among ordinary people. Source: UN-HABITAT (2009, p. vi)

The UN-HABITAT (2009) report also emphasised that in meeting these challenges much could be learnt from innovative international planning approaches, such as: • Strategic spatial planning and use of spatial planning to integrate public sector functions; • New land regularisation and management approaches, especially in developing countries; • Participatory processes and partnerships, including community action planning and participatory budgeting; and • New forms of master planning (social justice–oriented) and planning for sustainable spatial forms (compact cities). In reflecting on how planning might respond to contemporary and future challenges, the report cast an eye back over the evolution of modern planning in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and how it was disseminated around the world (see Chap. 2). It noted that ‘Planning innovations must be shaped by the context in which they occur’ and that ‘there is no one model or system of urban planning that can be applied in all parts of the world’. This does not mean that it is not possible to generalise about ‘urban planning ideas and concepts’, but rather that ‘the way in which these might be used will be highly dependent upon contextual factors’ (UN-HABITAT, 2009, pp.  211–212). This dynamic between universalism and context-­dependency in planning models and ideas also emerges in commentaries on the implications of contemporary initiatives such as the NUA for planning and the pursuit of the SDGs under the 2030 agenda (see later in this chapter). Graute et al. (2018, p. 4) note, ‘cities are affected by the entire 2030 Agenda, as the bulk of SDG action (e.g. Goals 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13) tends to be located in urban areas,

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which in the end, host the majority of the global population’. Many of these goals have planning implications in terms of how land is organised and managed. The relevance of SDG11 to ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ is self-evident and a number of its specific sub-targets (11.a, 11.3, and 11.7) explicitly mention planning (see Box 6.3). The approval of SDG 11 has been described as ‘a product of what one might call a fluid alliance of interests and organisations that generated a coherent pro-urban discourse through which to assert the importance of cities in future development policy agendas’ (Barnett & Parnell, 2016, p. 89). Another dimension of the SDGs which creates a potential role for planning is that ‘When applied to a specific geographical area or territory, most of these goals are relevant and hence overlap’ (Graute et al., 2018, p. 4). This is notable given that coordinating policy goals as they relate to places, and interact, in territorial terms, is an aspiration of more expansive views of planning (e.g. some versions of spatial planning). Planning’s role as a facilitator of deliberation on policy decisions which affect spatial development may also prove to be valuable, as delivery of the SDGs is seen as requiring broad stakeholder ownership of the goals (accepting that the extent to which planning effectively performs this role varies in different contexts).

Box 6.3  SDG 11 Goal 11: Make Cities and Human Settlements Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable

11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries 11.4 Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage 11.5 By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations 11.6 By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities 11.a Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning (continued)


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Box 6.3  (continued)

11.b By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels 11.c Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials

Box 6.4  Extract from the Foreword to the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (UN-HABITAT, 2015a, b)

With the world’s urban population having crossed the fifty per cent threshold of global population, it has become increasingly clear that the future is urban. Urbanization is progressing rapidly, particularly in developing countries, and has been accompanied by both opportunities and challenges. Agglomeration provides significant economies of scale for cities and regions, but can also lead to costs and externalities such as those associated with noise, congestion and pollution. Global challenges such as climate change and resource depletion affect different areas in various ways and require new and innovative responses. In order to deal with these challenges, different approaches to planning have been tested and implemented worldwide. While there are valuable lessons learnt from these diverse efforts, the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (Guidelines) are designed to fill a critical gap providing a reference framework for planning that is useful across a range of scales and adaptable to distinct regional, national and local contexts.

The SDGs are reflected in other UN initiatives such as the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (IGUTP) adopted in 2015 (Box 6.4) which are intended to be ‘a framework for improving global policies, plans, designs and implementation processes, which will lead to more compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities and territories that foster sustainable urban development and are resilient to climate change’ (UN-HABITAT, 2015a, p. 1). The IGUTP have the following stated goals (UN-HABITAT, 2015a, p. 1): • To develop a universally applicable reference framework to guide urban policy reforms; • To capture universal principles from national and local experience that could support the development of diverse planning approaches adapted to different contexts and scales;


The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning

• To complement and link to other international guidelines aimed at fostering sustainable urban development; • To raise the urban and territorial dimensions of the development agendas of national, regional and local governments. They are intended for use ‘through the multiscale continuum of spatial planning’ at—(1) Supranational/transboundary level; (2) National level; (3) City-regional/metropolitan level; (4) City and municipal level; (5) Neighbourhood level (UN-HABITAT, 2015a, p. 2). Successful implementation of plans is seen as being dependent on ‘three key enabling components’ an ‘Enforceable and transparent legal Framework’; ‘Sound and flexible urban planning and design’; and ‘A financial plan for affordability and cost-effectiveness’. It is argued that the balancing of these components ‘should lead to increased cross sectoral synergies, delivery-focused partnerships and streamlined and effective procedures’ (UN-HABITAT, 2015a, p. 3). The document goes onto to set out 12 key planning principles (Box 6.5) and 114 recommendations, addressed to 4 key stakeholder groups—national governments, local authorities, civil society associations, and professional planning associations. There has been a concern to localise the guidelines and actions have been taken to promote this. Global conferences and launch events have taken place in different countries; the guidelines have been translated into 11 languages to aid dissemination in different parts of the world; and a compendium of inspiring practices was developed to illustrate ‘the conditions and benefits of the key principles included in the Guidelines while providing relevant facts and figures and concrete evidence of the impacts of sound urban and territorial planning’ (UN-HABITAT, 2015b, p. iii).

Box 6.5  International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning: Principles To orient and guide decision-makers in developing or reviewing urban and territorial policies, plans, and designs through an integrated planning approach, the Guidelines are structured along 12 key planning principles and 114 recommendations in 5 main sections and addressed to the 4 stakeholder groups. An abridged version of the 12 guiding principles can be found below. URBAN POLICY AND GOVERNANCE 1 Urban and Territorial Planning is an integrative and participatory decision-making process that addresses competing interests and is linked to a shared vision, an overall development strategy and national, regional and local urban policies. 2 Urban and Territorial Planning promotes local democracy, participation and inclusion, transparency and accountability. URBAN AND TERRITORIAL PLANNING FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Urban and Territorial Planning and Social Development 3 Urban and Territorial Planning primarily aims to realize adequate standards of living and working conditions for all through social inclusion and cohesion, recognizing the distinct needs of various groups. 4 Urban and Territorial Planning is a precondition for a better quality of life and successful globalization processes that respect cultural heritages and cultural diversity.



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Box 6.5  (continued) Urban and Territorial Planning and Sustained Economic Growth Urban and Territorial Planning provides an enabling framework for new economic opportunities, regulation of land and housing markets and timely provision of adequate infrastructure and basic services. 6 Urban and Territorial Planning provides a mechanism to ensure that sustained economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability go hand in hand to promote better connectivity at all territorial levels. Urban and Territorial Planning and the Environment 7 Urban and Territorial Planning provides a spatial framework to protect and manage the natural and built environment of cities and territories, including their biodiversity, land and natural resources. 8 Urban and Territorial Planning contributes to increased human security by strengthening environmental and socioeconomic resilience, enhancing mitigation of, and adaption to, climate change. URBAN AND TERRITORIAL PLANNING COMPONENTS 9 Urban and Territorial Planning is a continuous and iterative process, grounded in enforceable regulations, that aims to promote more compact cities and synergies between territories. 10 Urban and Territorial Planning aims to facilitate and articulate political decisions based on different scenarios. It translates those decisions into actions that will transform the physical and social space and will support the development of integrated cities and territories. IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING URBAN AND TERRITORIAL PLANNING 11 Implementation of spatial policies and plans requires political leadership, appropriate legal and institutional frameworks, efficient urban management, and improved coordination, consensus-building approaches to respond coherently and effectively to current and future challenges. 12 Effective implementation and evaluation of Urban and Territorial planning requires continuous monitoring, periodic adjustments and sufficient capacities at all levels, as well as sustainable financial mechanisms and technologies. 5

Source: UN-HABITAT (2015a)

In 2016 the urban dimension of the international sustainability agenda was further emphasised by the conclusion of the UN-HABITAT III process and adoption of the NUA at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III) in Quito, Ecuador, on 20 October 2016 (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, b, c; Robin, 2016). This was the culmination of a four-year-long process which included multiple stakeholders in addition to national governments including a new stakeholder representation mechanism, the General Assembly of Partners (GAP), with 16 Partner Constituency Groups representing ‘250,000 entities with total membership well in excess of 300 million persons’ (Stiftel, 2021, p. 426). The final conference also included the ‘strongest participation of civil society stakeholders and local authorities gathered to discuss urban development in the history of the United Nations’ (Stiftel, 2021, p.  421). The NUA was endorsed by the UN General Assembly at its 68th plenary meeting of the 71st session on 23 December 2016 with its Foreword stating:

The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning


In this unprecedented era of increasing urbanization, and in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement, and other global development agreements and frameworks, we have reached a critical point in understanding that cities can be the source of solutions to, rather than the cause of, the challenges that our world is facing today. If well-planned and well-managed, urbanization can be a powerful tool for sustainable development for both developing and developed countries. (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, p. iv, added emphases)

The rationale which underpins the NUA thus recognises that what happens in cities in the remainder of this century will impact more widely on a host of international and global agendas, notably those relating to ‘green’ challenges such as responding to the climate emergency, biodiversity, resource use, public health (e.g. addressing air pollution), and promoting greater environmental justice. For Satterthwaite (2016, p. 5), ‘The basis for a new urban agenda is the many SDGs that can be met with sensible urban policies and good local governance’ and ‘This requires all sectors and agencies to work across sectoral and spatial boundaries’. For Stiftel (2021, p. 421) the NUA is ‘a hard-fought diplomatic achievement’ and ‘an ambitious roadmap for the future of urbanization globally, built around five pillars: national urban policies, urban legislation and regulations, urban planning and design, local economy and municipal finance, and local implementation’. The Signatories of the NUA recognise that planning has a role to play stating (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, b, c, p. 21, Para. 72) that: We commit ourselves to long-term urban and territorial planning processes and spatial development practices that incorporate integrated water resources planning and management, considering the urban-rural continuum on the local and territorial scales and including the participation of relevant stakeholders and communities.

The NUA comprises two main parts: the ‘Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All’ and the ‘Quito Implementation Plan for the New Urban Agenda’ (HABITAT III, 2017a, b, c). Under Paragraph 15 (c) (iii) of the Quito Declaration, the Heads of State and Government, Ministers, and High Representatives commit themselves ‘to working towards an urban paradigm shift for a New Urban Agenda’ and ‘Reinvigorating long-term and integrated urban and territorial planning and design in order to optimize the spatial dimension of the urban form and deliver the positive outcomes of urbanization’ (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, p. 8). Under the Quito Implementation Plan the signatories ‘resolve to implement the New Urban Agenda as a key instrument for enabling national, subnational and local governments and all relevant stakeholders to achieve sustainable urban development’ (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, p.  11; Para. 23). The Implementation Plan also contains ‘Transformative Commitments for Sustainable Urban Development’ (Box 6.6).


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Box 6.6  Transformative Commitments for Sustainable Urban Development

a. Sustainable Urban Development for Social Inclusion and Ending Poverty; b. Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Prosperity and Opportunities for All; c. Environmentally Sustainable and Resilient Urban Development (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, pp. 11–22) UN-HABITAT (2018, pp. 5–6) summarises the key commitments made in the NUA as follows: Providing basic services for all citizens: Access to housing, safe drinking water and sanitation, nutritious food, healthcare and family planning, education, culture and access to communication technologies. Ensuring that all citizens have access to equal opportunities and face no discrimination: Everyone has the right to benefit from what their cities offer. The NUA calls on city authorities to take into account the needs of women, youth and children, people with disabilities, marginalised groups, older persons, and indigenous people, among other groups. Promoting measures that support cleaner cities: Tackling air pollution in cities, increasing use of renewable energy, providing better and greener public transport, and sustainably managing natural resources. Strengthening resilience in cities to reduce the risk and the impact of disasters: This requires better urban planning, quality infrastructure and improving local responses. Taking action to address climate change by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions: Sustainable cities that reduce emissions from energy and build resilience can play a lead role. Fully respecting the rights of refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons regardless of their migration status: These vulnerable people need to be able to access the opportunities provided by urban areas. Improving connectivity and supporting innovative and green initiatives: This includes establishing partnerships with businesses and civil society to find sustainable solutions to urban challenges. Promoting safe, accessible and green public spaces: Human interaction should be facilitated by urban planning, which is why the NUA calls for an increase in public spaces such as sidewalks, cycling lanes, gardens, squares and parks. Sustainable urban design plays a key role in ensuring the liveability and prosperity of a city.

As noted by UN-HABITAT (2018, p. 6), ‘Some 33 points in the NUA spotlight the contribution expected from planning and managing urban spatial development’. The Quito Implementation Plan contains a significant section on ‘Planning and managing urban spatial development’ which acknowledges the IGUTP (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, p. 24, Para. 93) and develops an extensive list of aspirations

The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning


for, and sets out a model of, planning (Watson, 2016—see also Box 6.11 later). For Stiftel (2021, p.  422), ‘In the past, urban planning was often far from central in U.N. approaches to sustainable development, so The Agenda reflects dramatic change in U.N. confidence in planning’.

Global Environmental Challenges and Planning Whilst sustainability in principle embraces the notion of balancing economic, social, and environmental agendas, there is a growing realisation that, on a global stage, issues such as long-range transboundary air pollution, global biodiversity loss, and the climate change emergency require collective coordinated action at all scales from the global to the local. Human actions have multiple impacts on the natural ecological processes upon which all life on earth depends. The ecosystem services approach recognises that the natural environment provides four distinct, but overlapping, ‘services’ that are critical to all life (Everard, 2017). The first three—provisioning services which involve extracting material from nature (e.g. food, timber, fossil fuels, minerals); regulating services that make life possible (e.g. plants clean air and filter water, bacteria decompose waste, bees pollinate plants); and supporting services that relate to the underlying natural processes that need to be in balance help to maintain a healthy and resilient ecosystem (e.g. photosynthesis, water cycle, nutrient cycle)—are critical to sustaining life. How we, as humans, interact with these services and the natural world has created a non-material benefit that guides our mental and spiritual wellbeing, where we ascribe intrinsic value to the natural world, generating cultural services. Human activity is now recognised as disrupting the balancing of these ecosystem services which could prove catastrophic. Planning, as defined within this book, has increasingly been attributed an important role in helping to address these challenges. It seeks, for example, to consider how the built environment needs to adapt to, or mitigate, the effects of climate change. Concepts such as the compact city are globally promoted across territorial scales as offering a more energy-efficient urban form, with potential to reduce the need for vehicular travel, as the distance from home to work and leisure is reduced and places and neighbourhoods become more walkable. The search for new sources of energy, which can help to decarbonise the economy, will require new space for development. For example, renewable energy developments to harness wind, solar, or tidal power require space whether on the land or sea, and planning has a role in identifying suitable locations, taking into account other interests and priorities for the use of space. Planning may also involve reflecting on where new development should be permitted to avoid the risk of flooding, or where new development is in a flood risk area how it can be designed in such a way to make buildings more resilient. Planning may also promote measures which seek to ensure that new development does not add to the risk of flooding, through Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), whereby emphasis is placed on controlling and minimising the volume and rate of run-off from the site, and by preventing diffuse pollution by


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creating more attractive natural environments within a development, which also enhances the amenity value of places and promotes biodiversity (Andreas-­ Domenech et al., 2021). Increasingly ideas of offsetting are also being used to compensate for environmental damage. Carbon offsetting is the idea that carbon can be captured through the planting of trees or the restoration of peat bogs. Biodiversity offsetting and biodiversity net gain suggest that new development should in some way contribute to a net increase in biodiversity and begin to redress the biodiversity losses which are now recognised as critical to mitigate if a functioning ecosystem is to be maintained. Many national planning systems are now beginning to adopt such ideas, in recognition of these agendas of global importance. There is a growing acknowledgement that international collaboration is required if the world is to work collectively to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Already there is much consensus that many parts of the world are now experiencing extreme weather events (prolonged periods of drought, extreme cold, intensive and excessive amount of rain, and consequent flooding events) which have been caused by anthropogenic impacts. World leaders have agreed to try and limit the net effects of global warming to between 1.5 and 2.0 °C by 2050 through the Paris Agreement, part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), although there remains deliberation about how much each country should commit to contributing to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions based on fairness, equity, and current and historical contributions to the current crisis. There is also much debate as to how the so-called developed world can help the rest of the world to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This is a significant political issue which has implications for planning. In much of Africa, in order to meet their increasing energy needs, many countries are turning to hydro-power utilising the power of the great rivers of the continent. This might seem a very sustainable and low-carbon solution. If the existing and planned hydro-electric power facilities are completed by 2030, then in the Nile catchment hydro production will increase from 62% to 82% of regional capacity and within the Zambezi basin from 73% to 85% (Conway et al., 2017). However, there are a number of critical challenges, which in many senses reflect ‘wicked problems’ (Rittel & Weber, 1973). First, many of the extensive river basins extend across multiple nation states, with the power generated by schemes in one country being claimed exclusively by that country. This inevitably raises questions about the rights to transnational common or shared resources. For example, Egypt is in dispute with North Sudan and Ethiopia over water rights in the Nile. Whilst developing new hydro schemes should ensure a greater consistency of electricity supply, it is estimated that currently power outages are costing the economies of Malawi, Tanzania, and South Africa a loss of between 5 and 7% of GDP (Conway  et  al., 2017, p.  946); in the light of climate change and the potential for sustained periods of low rainfall, these countries may also see reductions in generating capacity of between 10 and 20% of potential output (Conway et al., 2017, p. 951) which would make these countries extremely vulnerable being overly reliant on one main source of energy. Thus, as well as meeting economic and social challenges, planners and planning are increasingly being charged with thinking about how their decisions are resilient to environmental challenges, do not add to the environmental problems we face, and contribute to redressing the negative impacts of human activity on the environment.

The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning


Other Global Contexts for Planning Statements of intent such as the SDGs and the NUA and binding internationally agreed targets on climate change provide a global context for planning across different scales and in different places. There is an aspiration to address sustainable development in a holistic manner and generate synergies and complementarities between its different domains leading Reyes et al. (2020, p. 359) to comment that ‘the New Urban agenda and the SDGs are promising in their intersectional approach’. In addition to these overarching integrative agendas, there are also other thematically and sectorally focussed international activities, agencies and agendas which can shape planning on themes including culture, health, environment, and social justice, to name but a few. These typically pursue goals that are in theory complementary to the wider sustainable development agenda, though complex contextual factors and trade-offs between different objectives mean that sometimes this complementarity can be more difficult to identify and achieve in practice. Nevertheless, such initiatives and actions contribute to animating debates around planning and the diffusion and circulation of planning concepts, though with varying degrees of influence. Some are more ‘formal’, for example, having close links with the structures of the UN (see Boxes 6.7, 6.8 and 6.9), whilst others may be more voluntary networks of local governments, civil society organisations (CSO), or professional associations (see Chap. 8). Associations such as United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) play a role in representing the interests of local governments ‘on the world stage’ ( and events like the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments have fed into processes such as the NUA. UCLG develops positions on issues such as mobility, culture, housing, ecology and biodiversity, migration, and local finances. Cities too are also actors in their own right who can formulate policy responses to issues which often become manifest clearly in urban settings before they are picked up by national governments. As noted by Kaufmann and Sidney (2020, p. 3): Regarding the specific contextual characteristics of the urban setting, urban theories point to dimensions of size, density, and diversity of urban spaces as contributing to the particular visibility or immediacy of social, economic, and infrastructural problems in cities, even though these problems usually reflect broader forces originating beyond the city. This explains why cities might address policy issues prior to, or with more urgency, than national governments.

Professional associations of planners such as the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP), founded in 1965, also play a role in animating debate through annual congresses and publications such as the periodic International Manual of Planning Practice (Ryser & Franchini, 2008, 2015) and ‘Reviews’ on different themes which have recently included ‘sustainable cities; planning with water; food security planning; new planning tools and methods; and climate change planning’. These are intended to provide ‘the world’s planning community, with a comprehensive set of volumes providing solutions to the major challenges of contemporary urban planning’ (see and are a valuable resource for international planning studies. Both UCLG and ISOCARP were involved in the process of developing the IGTUP (UN-HABITAT, 2015b, p. 40, 2018, p. i).


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Box 6.7  The International Dimensions of Heritage Conservation and Planning

Since the mid-twentieth century, there has been a significant global rise in the attention given to heritage conservation and management. This has been coupled with an evolution in understandings of heritage and approaches to managing changes in the historic environment. Organisations such as ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) have been conduits for the sharing of experiences and techniques of conservation worldwide. The UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (UNESCO, 2011) is a recent example. More concretely the organisation also designates World Heritage Sites (WHS) which are inscribed for their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) (see As ICOMOS notes, ‘These sites represent the shared heritage of humankind and need to be preserved for current and future generations. They bear witness of our shared history and represent the dialogue between cultures’. Designation as a WHS comes with a set of expectations about how the site will be managed and protected to maintain its OUV. Meanwhile local practice has continued to operate within different socio-­ economic and political contexts so that there is great variety in objectives, principles, and approaches. The IGUTPs call on national governments to ‘Promote the integration of the identification, safeguarding and development of the cultural and natural heritage in urban and territorial planning processes’; and on local authorities to ‘Protect and value the cultural heritage, including traditional settlements and historic districts, religious and historical monuments and sites, archaeological areas and cultural landscapes’ (UN-HABITAT, 2015a, pp.  15, 16). Similarly, the signatories of the UN’s New Urban Agenda (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, b, c, p. 13) commit themselves to: the sustainable leveraging of natural and cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible … through integrated urban and territorial policies and adequate investments at the national, subnational and local levels, to safeguard and promote cultural infrastructures and sites … highlighting the role that these play in rehabilitating and revitalizing urban areas and in strengthening social participation and the exercise of citizenship.

This wider backdrop provides a context for how different states address such issues. For example, in China the China Principles from 1997 were developed by ICOMOS China with assistance from the Getty Conservation Institute and the Australian Heritage Commission (Zheng, 2007). The China Principles were adopted into legislation in 2002 (Zheng, 2007). They articulate China’s practice with international charters and conventions (ICOMOS China, 2000). The China Principles stress the historic, artistic, and scientific values of heritage and promote minimal intervention and regular maintenance. Meanwhile, new ideas such as intangible heritage (UNESCO, 2003) have been well received in China. Lists of intangible heritage have been established nationally and enriched over the years (Chen et al., 2021). International thinking and designations on heritage can have an influence on planning at local scales. An example of this is how the designation of World (continued)

The Emergence of a Global Agenda for Planning


Box 6.7  (continued)

Heritage Sites (WHS) can become a factor in subsequent decision-making. This is well-illustrated by the case of Liverpool (England). In many ways the city can be seen as an archetype of a post-industrial city which has sought to reinvent itself through the valorisation of its heritage and cultural assets; an impression reinforced by its successful bid to become European Capital of Culture 2008. An expansive view of heritage has been adopted by many policymakers which incorporates not just the tangible artefacts and built heritage of the city, but also its diverse artistic, musical, sporting, and community cultures. In 2004, six areas of its waterfront and city centre were inscribed on the list of WHSs as the ‘Maritime Mercantile City’ ( In 2012, however, a large-scale new dockland redevelopment scheme for the northern docks called ‘Liverpool Waters’ received outline planning consent from the local planning authority Liverpool City Council. The national government confirmed that it would not ‘call-in’ the Liverpool Waters application for scrutiny at the national level, leaving decision-­making to the local level. The scale, density, height, and design of many of the buildings in the initial Liverpool Waters plans caused local and international concern with regard to the impact that the proposed new skyline would have on Liverpool’s waterfront, the WHS, and local heritage. English Heritage formally objected to the outline planning permission and in 2012 UNESCO added the Maritime Mercantile City to the list of endangered WHSs arguing that the Liverpool Waters proposals ‘will extend the city centre significantly and alter the skyline and profile of the site inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004’ and ‘that the redevelopment scheme will fragment and isolate the different dock areas visually’ (UNESCO World Heritage Committee, 2012). The issue of the relative importance of WHS status and the Liverpool Waters scheme to the city soon became politicised. The planning question raised in a city like Liverpool is how the relationship between international heritage designations and economic growth evolves as circumstances change (Sykes & Ludwig, 2015; Fageir et al., 2021; West, 2021). As development plans continued to evolve, including for a new football stadium on a former historic dock site, local interests lobbied for retention of WHS status claiming that it should be possible for major development to proceed without loss of the WHS status. Arguments put forward included the ‘economic, social and moral challenge’ of securing regeneration for a ‘part of the north Liverpool area which has some of the greatest economic and social challenges in the whole UK – indeed Europe’ (Liverpool City Council, 2021, p. 16). The case of the city also emphasised the investments made over recent years in protecting heritage assets, a strong planning policy framework and local management plans to support conservation of the site, and the ‘reversibility’ of some of the physical changes to be caused by the proposed schemes. Ultimately, however, UNESCO was not satisfied that enough was being done to protect the OUV of Liverpool’s WHS, and the site was deleted from the World Heritage List in 2021 (continued)


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Box 6.7  (continued)

‘due to the irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value of the property’ (UNESCO, 2021). Although such delisting is a rare occurrence—with Liverpool being only the third property to lose its WHS status after the Elbe Valley in Dresden (Germany) and the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)—the case raises questions about the impact of such international designations if the risk of loss of designated status is insufficient to really influence the planning and development of a given place.

Box 6.8  International Civil Society Organisations: Shack/Slum Dwellers International

Recent international statements around planning are keen to stress the important role of public participation and civil society organisations (CSOs) in encouraging governments to deliver on the commitments made in international statements like the SDGs, NUA, and IGUTP (UN-HABITAT, 2018, p.  12). The NUA mentions ‘the meaningful inclusion of slum dwellers and grassroots leaders’ in the HABITAT III conference in Quito in 2016 (HABITAT, 2017a, p. v). Satterthwaite (2016, p. 6) notes how ‘Innovations in the “bottom-up” agenda in countries around the world have also been driven by the organizations and federations of slum/shack dwellers, but have at the same time depended on local civil servants and politicians who have been prepared to listen to them and work with them, through what might be termed the co-production of the SDGs’. Fraser (2018, p.  125) meanwhile argues that  ‘A growing body of evidence points to an important role for organised civil society based in informal settlements, when enabled to engage with the state and external agencies (the activities of Slum Dweller’s International (SDI) being key in this regard)’. The latter is ‘a network of community-based organisations of the urban poor in 32 countries and hundreds of cities and towns across Africa, Asia and Latin America. In each country where SDI has a presence, affiliate organisations come together at the community, city and national level to form federations of the urban poor’ (­is-­sdi/about-­us/). The network was launched in 1996 to offer a global platform to help federations from different countries ‘develop alternatives to evictions while also influencing the global agenda for urban development’ (­dwellers-­international/). It has helped ‘to create a global voice of the urban poor, engaging international agencies and operating on the international stage in order to support and advance local struggles. Nevertheless, the principal theatre of practice for SDI’s constituent organisations is the local level: the informal settlements where the urban poor of the developing world struggle to build more inclusive cities, economies, and politics’. It does this through promulgating its six Practices for Change. (1) Savings Schemes, (2) Central Participation of Women, (3) Enumeration and Mapping, (4) Partnerships, (5) Slum Upgrading, and (6) Learning Exchanges. Reference:­practices-­for-­change/

Reflecting on the Global Agenda for Planning and Its Impact


Box 6.9  The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Healthy Cities Movement

Initiated by the WHO in 1986, Healthy Cities is a global movement working to put health high on the social, economic, and political agenda of city governments. Since 1998 the WHO European Healthy Cities Network has brought together some 100 ‘flagship’ cities and approximately 30 national networks. These aim to engage local governments in political commitment, institutional change, capacity-building, partnership-based planning, and innovation. Healthy Cities have spread rapidly across Europe and other parts of the world. The WHO definition draws on the ‘Healthy Settings’ approach articulated in the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986) which considers that ‘Health is created and lived by people within the settings of their everyday life; where they learn, work, play, and love’ A Healthy City aims to: • • • •

to create a health-supportive environment, to achieve a good quality of life, to provide basic sanitation and hygiene needs, to supply access to health care.

Being a Healthy City depends not on current health infrastructure, but rather upon a commitment to improve a city’s environs and a willingness to forge the necessary connections between political, economic, and social arenas. In 2016, the Shanghai Consensus on Healthy Cities was adopted by over 100 mayors who recognised the need to work towards creating healthy urban environments by advancing health and sustainable urban development due to the increasing urbanisation of the world’s population. The promotion of Healthy Cities is also fostered by voluntary networks such as the Alliance for Healthy Cities (AFHC) which is ‘an international network aiming at protecting and enhancing the health of city dwellers’ (http://www.alliance-­ This is a group of cities and other organisations that seek to achieve this goal by promoting the Healthy Cities approach. Their activities are based on the belief ‘that international cooperation is an effective and efficient tool to achieve the goal’ of enhancing the health of city dwellers and they ‘promote the interaction of people who are in the front lines of health issues’. Reference:­topics/environment-­and-­ health/urban-­health/who-­european-­healthy-­cities-­network/

Reflecting on the Global Agenda for Planning and Its Impact The developments outlined in the previous sections set a global context for planning. Significantly, as noted by Garschagen and Porter (2018, pp.  118–119), the implication of the NUA is that ‘improvements of planning frameworks and


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institutions are not only considered necessary in countries with weak planning systems and poor law enforcement, but also in countries with strong institutions, given the manifold new challenges posed by climate change, globalization, demographic change and other pressures’. This is then an authentically global agenda for planning, not one limited to particular kinds of countries (developed or developing), or parts of the world (global ‘north and ‘south’). It recognises that given the depth and urgency of the challenges different societies face in making meaningful progress towards sustainable development, no system has all the ‘answers’, but that there is at least some consensus about the really important issues that need to be addressed. In light of this context, international planning studies might explore whether the global agenda for planning articulates a new planning doctrine, and if so what are its elements, and how influential it might be in practice? Some themes of enquiry can be identified here relating to the planning model(s) that are implied, promoted, and circulated by the activities of the UN, other global agencies, actors and networks. For example, what impact and ‘difference’ (if any) will these make as regards planning practice and development outcomes; what kinds of knowledge, information, and analysis are most appropriate in monitoring and evaluating implementation of the global urban and planning agendas; and are the planning models being promoted effective in practice?

Towards a New Global Planning Doctrine? One way of interpreting the international planning context provided by the developments noted earlier and statements of intent such as the 2030 Agenda, NUA, and IGUTP is to posit whether taken collectively these might be considered to articulate a new global planning doctrine. Referring to the work of Faludi and van der Valk, Coop and Thomas (2007, p.  167) state that a planning doctrine is ‘a perspective within which planning issues are framed, and possibilities and solutions emerge; it includes ideas about appropriate spatial structure as well as appropriate mechanisms (public/private/and so on) for achieving change’. One question which can be asked of the NUA is whether it establishes a new global planning doctrine and if so which model of planning it promotes. The Foreword to the document arguably stakes a claim to be doing this, stating that: The New Urban Agenda presents a paradigm shift based on the science of cities; it lays out standards and principles for the planning, construction, development, management, and improvement of urban areas along its five main pillars of implementation: national urban policies, urban legislation and regulations, urban planning and design, local economy and municipal finance, and local implementation. It is a resource for every level of government, from national to local; for civil society organizations; the private sector; constituent groups; and for all who call the urban spaces of the world “home” to realize this vision. (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, p. iv)

Paragraphs 93-160 of the NUA address ‘Planning and Managing Urban Spatial Development’. Paragraph 93 acknowledges ‘the principles and strategies for urban

Reflecting on the Global Agenda for Planning and Its Impact


and territorial planning contained in the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning’, whilst paragraph 94 states: We will implement integrated planning that aims to balance short-term needs with the longterm desired outcomes of a competitive economy, high quality of life and sustainable environment. We will also strive to build flexibility into our plans in order to adjust to changing social and economic conditions over time. We will implement and systematically evaluate these plans, while making efforts to leverage innovations in technology and to produce a better living environment.

Paragraph 95 makes a commitment to: support the implementation of integrated, polycentric and balanced territorial development policies and plans, encouraging cooperation and mutual support among different scales of cities and human settlements, strengthening the role of small and intermediate cities and towns in enhancing food security and nutrition systems, providing access to sustainable, affordable, adequate, resilient and safe housing, infrastructure and services, facilitating effective trade links across the urban-rural continuum and ensuring that small-scale farmers and fishers are linked to local, subnational, national, regional and global value chains and markets.

Paragraph 96 then states the signatories: will encourage the implementation of sustainable urban and territorial planning, including city-region and metropolitan plans, to encourage synergies and interactions among urban areas of all sizes and their peri-urban and rural surroundings, including those that are cross-­border, and we will support the development of sustainable regional infrastructure projects that stimulate sustainable economic productivity, promoting equitable growth of regions across the urban-rural continuum. In this regard, we will promote urban-rural partnerships and inter-municipal cooperation mechanisms based on functional territories and urban areas as effective instruments for performing municipal and metropolitan administrative tasks, delivering public services and promoting both local and regional development.

The remaining paragraphs (97–160) in the NUA’s section on ‘Planning and Managing Urban Spatial Development’ also cover many varied aspects of planning and related fields making links between different issues with some sentences running to many lines. Two very useful further sources which can help in gaining an understanding of the concept of planning articulated ‘internally’ within the NUA process are the NUA Subject Index and the Glossary of the HABITAT III Preparatory Process (UN-HABITAT, 2017b, c). It is, also instructive to consider how the NUA’s planning model is considered ‘externally’, by reviewing how two leading planning scholars based in different global regions who have followed the evolution of the global agenda for planningVanessa Watson (2016) and Bruce Stiftel (2021)-summarise the planning model, or doctrine, it promotes (Box 6.10).


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Box 6.10  Views of the NUA’s ‘Planning Model’

Vanessa Watson (2016, p. 443) summarises ‘the planned and regulated spatial constructs and forms of land use, applicable in all cities in the world’ designed to address the ‘ambitious socio-economic vision in the first part of the NUA’ from paragraph 97 onwards,1 commenting that these: anticipate urban growth managed through planned urban extensions, infill, regeneration and informal upgrading, while avoiding gentrification and reducing spatial and socioeconomic segregation. Development will be compact, dense, connected, with multiple use of space and mixed economic uses to prevent sprawl, reduce mobility requirements and service delivery costs. Affordable housing will have access to quality public spaces which are well designed and safe, and streets will support commerce, local markets and walkability. Climate change and urban safety measures will be integrated. There will be public supply of affordable land for housing in central and consolidated areas, with a wide range of housing and tenure options. Significant attention is paid to mobility and transport, integrated into urban plans, and encouraging public transport, non-motorised transport and transit-oriented development. Urban infrastructure will be integrated into urban spatial plans and will deliver universal access to water, sanitation and waste disposal. Urban culture and cultural heritage will be ‘priority components’.

She then comments that ‘These qualities, which in many parts of the world will require a radical shift in planning approach and practice, will be achieved through measures which are largely regulatory, although frequent reference is made to participatory planning’ (Watson, 2016, p.  442) and notes that the NUA signatories state they will: • promote compliance with legal requirements through strong, inclusive management frameworks and accountable institutions that deal with land registration and governance, applying transparent and sustainable management and use of land, property registration, and sound financial systems (paragraph 104); • promote the development of adequate and enforceable regulations in the housing sector, including, as applicable, resilient building codes, standards, development permits, land use by-laws and ordinances, and planning regulations, combating and preventing speculation, displacement, homelessness and arbitrary forced evictions and ensuring sustainability, quality, affordability, health, safety, accessibility, energy and resource efficiency, and resilience (paragraph 111); • include culture as a priority component of urban plans and strategies in the adoption of planning instruments, including master plans, zoning guidelines, building codes, coastal management policies and strategic development policies that safeguard a diverse range of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and landscapes, and will protect them from potential disruptive impacts of urban development. (paragraph 124). (continued)  Watson’s comments were on the ‘Zero Draft’ of the NUA, but the paragraphs cited are materially the same in the final adopted version and numbering has been adjusted. 1

Reflecting on the Global Agenda for Planning and Its Impact


Box 6.10  (continued)

Stiftel (2021, pp. 430–431) also provides a comprehensive discussion of the main components of the NUA’s planning model, commenting that ‘Urban Planning and Design is one of the five main pillars of implementation laid out in the Agenda, and National Urban Policy, itself an urban planning rich practice, is a second pillar’. He notes that ‘Planning is called for at global, multi-­ national regional, national, subnational regional, metropolitan and local scales’ and that ‘39 of the 175 paragraphs in the Agenda discuss planning’ (Stiftel, 2021, p. 430). Within the document he notes that there are calls to: reinvigorate long-term and integrated urban and territorial planning and design, strengthen ICT and infrastructure planning and coordination of transportation with land use, planning for urban freight, food systems, compact design, basic services, coastal areas, water resources, disaster risk reduction, mitigation and adaptation to climate vulnerabilities, natural resources, energy, affordable housing, and mobility.

In terms of spatial principles and goals for cities, he notes how ‘Metropolitan planning and urban-rural linkages are discussed in terms of preventing urban sprawl, planning for urban expansion, rural development, and encouraging synergies involving periurban and rural surroundings’ (Stiftel, 2021, p. 430). Meanwhile ‘There are frequent calls to enrich stakeholder participation in planning processes, with specific mention including local and sub-national governments, the homeless, low-income groups, persons with disabilities, women and girls, children and youth, older persons, indigenous peoples and local communities’ (Stiftel, 2021, p. 430). The planning instruments said to be needed ‘include master plans, zoning guidelines, building codes, coastal management policies, and strategic development policies’ (Stiftel, 2021, p. 430). Finally, ‘The Agenda calls for promotion of information and communication technology in planning, robust science-policy interfaces including reliable data collection and dissemination, improved statistical capabilities, and better coordination of urban planning with financial planning’ (Stiftel, 2021, pp. 430–431).

Watson (2016, pp. 445–446) seems circumspect on the issue of whether the NUA really represents a ‘paradigm shift’, at least as far as planning is concerned, commenting that the ‘kind of planning’ the NUA promotes: is difficult to describe as transformational change. Parts of it hark back to an earlier era of planning thought and practice which assumed cities were bounded spaces responding to spatially adjacent territorial change and are now perhaps out of step with urban and regional processes in a globalised and highly interconnected world. City socio-spatial economies are much less amenable to top-down management and planning through a hierarchy of plans, and governments are unlikely to be able to control them through master plans, regulations, zoning laws and building codes.


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Caprotti et al. (2017, p. 373) observe positively that ‘The need for meaningful urban interventions, as emphasized in the New Urban Agenda, includes an important role for the urban planning profession’ and ‘Explicit references to the centrality of spatial planning are encouraging and signify a timely moment for the consideration of its professional parameters’. However, they also caution that: an approach that assumes the combination of a strong state with industrialization, employment growth and the financial as well as institutional capacity to deliver on multiple plans will be limited in cities of Africa in particular, where some of the highest rates of urban growth take place.

Meanwhile, Garschagen and Porter (2018, p. 119) posit that: the tools suggested in the NUA are based on techno-managerial approaches and modernization paradigms such as smart cities or indicator-based management which, in principle, have been around for a long time, but have proven to be ineffective in shifting urban development onto more sustainable pathways, especially in the developing world.

There is thus some debate about the model of planning promoted by the NUA and whether it can deliver the transformational urban agenda which is sought—perhaps especially in the ‘Global South’. Here how planning works with informality and civil society organisations is a key theme and there were some notable debates during the NUA preparation process on issues related to this (Box 6.11). As noted by Satterthwaite (2016, p. 6), ‘co-production requires and involves contributions from almost all sectors – and local government taking a key role in making sure these are coherent and coordinated. It also needs cooperation between neighbouring local governments’. Despite some of the criticisms of the NUA it ‘acknowledges that implementing and financing urban sustainability cannot be borne by urban governments alone but will need strong commitments from civil society actors and especially the private sector’ and ‘This push is in line with a wider shift in how the roles and responsibility for action are seen within the post-2015 development agenda’ (Garschagen & Porter, 2018, p. 118).

Box 6.11  Universal, or Context-Specific, Urban and Planning Agendas?: Divergent Ideas About the ‘Right to the City’

The aspiration of statements of intent like the SDGs, NUA, and IGUTP to develop global or ‘universal’ principles and agendas sits in contrast to earlier goal-setting such as the MDGs which were focussed on developing countries. This creates an important contextual difference for, as Watson (2017, p. 438) notes, this not only potentially complicates ‘the debate significantly across global North and South on what are the main objectives and indicators of Goal 11, but there are also a range of normative positions in play, with the ‘right to the city’ being strongly promoted by civil society organisations from Latin American countries but considered with much more caution elsewhere’. The Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City was signed in 2010 (see Gerlofs, 2020); however, Reyes et al. (2020, p. 345) note how: (continued)

Reflecting on the Global Agenda for Planning and Its Impact


Box 6.11  (continued) In many countries, and within UN-HABITAT, the right to the city is hotly contested, and equity and right-based considerations have led to significant debate during HABITAT conferences. The explicit right to housing, for instance, was left out of the HABITAT II final declaration due to the opposition of some countries (most notably the U.S.) to such a binding policy framework, … In the run into HABITAT III, a few other countries continued to voice opposition to these rights-based frameworks.

The debate shows the highly political nature of language and concepts around planning and urban development, notably around specific forms of words and what different nations and interests may take these to imply in their own contexts. Differing state, society, and market relations and political and cultural contexts play a role in such debates. As regards the ‘right to the city’, in the final lead up to the adoption of the NUA ‘The USA and a number of European countries opposed this, saying that the UN Declaration on Human Rights already established similar rights’ (Stiftel, 2021, p. 427). The first paragraph of the Foreword to the NUA does places a strong emphasis on rights noting that ‘The New Urban Agenda represents a shared vision for a better and more sustainable future – one in which all people have equal rights and access to the benefits and opportunities that cities can offer, and in which the international community reconsiders the urban systems and physical form of our urban spaces to achieve this’. However, the specific term ‘right to the city’ appears only once in the final document where the signatories state that they ‘note the efforts of some national and local governments to enshrine this vision, referred to as “right to the city”, in their legislation, political declarations and charters’ (paragraph 11, p. 5, added emphases). The use of the qualifier ‘some’ underscores that the concept is not universally accepted and that ultimately the NUA does not fully endorse its application as part of a global agenda. This is despite the fact that during the preparation process ‘the right to the city was listed as HABITAT III’s first policy unit to guide sustainable urban development, and described as the heart of the New Urban Agenda’ (Reyes et  al., 2020, p. 345). The debate regarding the fate of the ‘right to the city’ in the NUA process illustrates well Watson’s (2016, p. 438) point that: The need to achieve consensus across widely differing interests and parts of the world in a short space of time explains the difficulty of creating a universal vision for the NUA as well as the inevitable mismatch of ideas and planning approaches which have found their way into the document.

References: Gerlofs (2020), Reyes et  al. (2020), Stiftel (2021), Watson (2016), UN-HABITAT (2016)


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With What Impact? Debates about the policy orientations of the NUA and the planning model/doctrine it promotes are closely related to the question of whether it, and related processes and statements, will make a material difference to planning and urbanisation. Some have argued, for example, ‘that UN-HABITAT has historically failed in guiding nations to implement effective on-the-ground changes through its policy prescriptions’, though they also acknowledge that, more so than previous cycles, ‘multiple voices contributed to the framing of the New Urban Agenda (NUA)’ (Reyes et al., 2020, p. 354). HABITAT III participants also noted the ‘poor record of implementation of previous agendas and resolutions’ and that ‘There is thus recognition of the need to move beyond technical solutions to incorporate political realities’. Dellas and Schrieber (2018, p. 133) similarly observe that previous experience is salutary and that ‘It is crucial that stakeholders engage in the follow-up and review of the New Urban Agenda with more ambition than they did during the Agenda’s predecessors  – the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements (HABITAT I, 1976) and the HABITAT Agenda agreed at HABITAT II in Istanbul in 1996’. They see this as an issue on which the NUA could add value to the wider UN 2030 sustainability agenda; as the space for mutual learning under SDG 11 is limited in their view. The NUA appears to recognise this stating ‘that the follow-up to and review of the New Urban Agenda must have effective linkages with the follow-up to, and review of, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ensure coordination and coherence in their implementation’ (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, p. 40, para. 164). So, in theory the relationship between the SDGs and the NUA should be symbiotic and mutually reinforcing, but there is also potential for competition between these two agendas and for the NUA to be ‘overshadowed’ by the SDGs (Stiftel, 2019). Thus, whilst the ‘intersectional’ (Reyes et al., 2020) nature of the NUA could be seen as a strength in helping apply the SDGs in an integrated and ‘localised’ manner, there are also more cautious voices. Garschagen et al. (2018, p. 119), for example, note: Whilst the NUA is a spacious policy document that has been able to accommodate claims and visions from all directions, its ‘fuzziness’ presents a challenge to its potential for guiding action. In particular, the NUA has the problem that it calls for too much at the same time – hence overburdening any realistic agenda for policy-makers. At the same time, it is short of setting priorities and hierarchies, and presenting clear guidance on the policy trajectories that need to be followed to achieve its ambitious goals. While the so-called implementation plan occupies the longest chapter of the NUA, it provides surprisingly little insight into the concrete implementation policies and measures.

In gauging impact, there is also a need to recognise that statements of intent like the NUA, and guidelines like the IGUTPs, are effectively non-binding in nature and rely on stakeholders across scales and sectors embedding these goals into their own strategies and decision-making. A key question for Satterthwaite (2018, pp. 121–122) is thus, ‘do UN Conferences where the representatives of national governments approve a long list of non-binding commitments actually produce change to meet

Reflecting on the Global Agenda for Planning and Its Impact


these commitments?’ Though as Garschagen and Porter (2018, p. 117) note, ‘The NUA is legally non-binding, yet has been endorsed by the UN member states through a General Assembly decision’. This imbues it with a certain legitimacy as a global framework of consensus for domestic action (Robin, 2016). Satterthwaite (2016, p. 1) argues that in practice ‘what will determine the effectiveness of any New Urban Agenda is whether it is relevant to urban governments and urban dwellers, especially those whose needs are not currently met, and gets their buy-in’ (Satterthwaite, 2016, p.  1). It is positive in this regard that ‘Co-production’ is mentioned in the NUA (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, p. 14, para. 41) and both the SDGs and NUA are acknowledged to require joint working (Satterthwaite, 2016, p. 6). Similarly Dellas and Schrieber (2018, p. 133) suggest that ‘The relevance of the New Urban Agenda, in the coming years, will also be affected by the extent to which the follow-up and review process manages to create and reinforce partnerships among all relevant stakeholders and foster exchanges of urban solutions and mutual learning’. The issues discussed above also relate to the question of how the impact of such statements of intent can be monitored.

 onitoring and Follow-Up: Collecting Data and/or M ‘Shaping Minds’? The NUA proposes that local actors and appropriate platforms have an important role in the follow-up and review of the agenda alongside the World Urban Forum (WUF), and that a report will be prepared every four years and fed into the General Assembly and the Higher-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). It is stated that this ‘will provide a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the progress made in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and internationally agreed goals and targets relevant to sustainable urbanization and human settlements’ (UN-HABITAT, 2017a, pp.  40–41, paras. 166–167). In the wake of the adoption of the SDGs and the NUA and such commitments, commentators have reflected on some of the challenges that monitoring progress may entail. Reyes et al. (2020, p. 354) have commented that, despite the commitments mentioned above, ‘One main obstacle for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, however, is that UN HABITAT does not have a comprehensive monitoring framework’. Caprotti et al. (2017, p. 368) meanwhile comment on how ‘The difficulties in translating SDG11’s targets into Quito’s New Urban Agenda exemplify how measurement becomes a challenge when it moves into the very practical realm of urban development: not just because of the lack of data and difficulties in measuring urban realities, but also because at the urban level measurement becomes entangled with people’s lives and priorities’. Whilst accepting that developing new standards with which to gauge progress towards sustainable development has some advantages (e.g. ‘to enable shared practice learning, scale up innovation and improve benchmarking’), they argue ‘this comes at the risk of decontextualizing and devaluing the intrinsically local and social urban realities’ (Caprotti et al., 2017, p. 370). They go on to comment ‘there remain three main challenges for conceptualizing, designing


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and collecting data for the SDGs in urban areas within the context of HABITAT III and the New Urban Agenda’ (Caprotti et al., 2017, p. 371–372): • First, ‘a key challenge exists around the issue of measurement of both SDG11 and its interaction with other SDGs that focus on urban areas. Cities have a central role in other SDGs. If tackling the SDGs in the New Urban Agenda focuses too narrowly on the Urban SDG, then a more holistic approach to urban development could be at risk’. • Second, data need to be disaggregated in order to be useful. Here they echo Satterthwaite (2016, p. 6) who points out that ‘Recommendations for SDG indicators may mention the importance of disaggregation by geographic location, but they need to be more specific on what level of disaggregation is needed to support local governments to address the SDGs’. • Third, there is a ‘need to move beyond existing data to more inclusive, alternative measurement approaches’ which could include a role for ‘Big Data’, citizen-­ generated, and earth observation data. There are also some practical and capacity issues to be considered. Dellas and Schrieber (2018, p. 134) note, how following the HABITAT III process, ‘Debates centered on issues such as the need for explicit targets and indicators comparable to the 2030 Agenda to monitor the New Urban Agenda’. They note that ‘While some argued that clear indicators and targets would be essential to track progress on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, others feared an unreasonable burden for governments’. Here it is significant that Hansson et al. (2019, p. 230) comment on the irony that, with many of the SDGs still seemingly conceived ‘with prevailing conditions and developmental objectives in the Global South in mind’ (including SDG Goal 11), many local authorities there ‘continue to express concern at the number and diversity of indicators on which they are expected to have or collect data, for which they lack resources and sometimes mandates in terms of their governance remits’. As a result, they conclude that ‘it is highly likely that urban areas in different countries worldwide will choose, or be directed by their national reporting agencies, to report only on those targets and indicators that fulfil the criteria of ease of measurement or collection, appropriateness, convenience and relevance to prevailing conditions and national and local development policies, priorities and programmes’ (Hansson et al., 2019, p. 230). This would result by default in a situation rather like that which emerged from HABITAT III where the NUA ‘process did not result in such explicit targets and indicators’ and ‘there is much leeway for governments to decide how to track progress’ (Dellas & Schrieber, 2018, p. 124). It is also in keeping with the view that ‘Successful implementation of the New Urban Agenda will also be dependent on the flexibility of its policy proposals to fit in varying contexts’, and evidence from UN-HABITAT itself about ‘the extent to which urban density, transportation infrastructure, and a host of other urban development challenges differ markedly between regions’ (Reyes et  al., 2020, p.  355). It also

Reflecting on the Global Agenda for Planning and Its Impact


leads to questions about how statements of intent like the NUA and IGTUP may, or may not, come to exert influence on planning practices and outcomes. As noted earlier, for Satterthwaite (2018, pp. 121–122) ultimately the ‘power of non-binding commitments’ lies in ‘the scale and range of those who buy-in to them and act on them’. This acknowledges the human and political dimension and ‘there is now a notable recognition that the New Urban Agenda needs to move beyond technical and technocratic recommendations and acknowledge the importance of political considerations for the successful implementation of HABITAT goals’ (Reyes et al., 2020, p. 358). But how can the influence of non-binding statements of intent be conceptualised and gauged? Here it is useful to consider previous instances of transnational reflection and goal setting with relevance to planning where non-­ binding frameworks have been developed outlining normative goals and suggested approaches. A notable example was the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) (see Box 7.2) adopted in the EU in 1999 as a set of non-binding principles to inform spatial development. This was not framed as a spatial ‘plan’ but as a ‘perspective’ and was non-spatially specific in its policy orientations, other than framing general stances and principles towards balanced and sustainable development of the EU territory. There are thus some commonalities with the NUA which similarly articulates some spatial development principles (some of which like polycentric development echo those of the ESDP—see Paragraph 95 of the NUA), but overall is even less spatially specific, other than applying to the planet Earth! In his work on the ESDP, Faludi took inspiration from the Dutch ‘performance school’ of plan evaluation (Faludi, 2000, 2001; Mastop & Faludi, 1997) to argue that ‘When discussing strategic planning frameworks, it is more fitting to describe their follow-up as the `application’ of ideas contained therein rather than as the `implementation’ of plan proposals’ (Faludi, 2003, p. 1). Strategic frameworks and concepts can be said to have been ‘applied’ where the ideas and policy messages they articulate have ‘shaped the minds’ of actors involved in further planning processes and played ‘a tangible role in the choices of the actors’ to whom they are addressed (Faludi, 2000, p.  306). When decision-makers imagine, or interpret a message of a plan, and modify it to their specific local context, the plan might be said to have ‘generative capacity’ (Faludi, 2001). To facilitate their application, ‘so conceived, such documents often need to undergo further elaboration, entailing among others the making of new institutional arrangements’ (Faludi, 2003, p. 1). The ‘application’ perspective is thus about ‘evaluating strategic planning documents by their ‘performance’ in shaping ongoing action, rather than by the ‘conformance’ of outcomes to intentions stated therein’ (Faludi, 2003, p.  1). It might usefully complement indicator-based approaches, which set precise aspirational targets against which progress can be evaluated, by offering a way of monitoring the influence of the goals and ideas articulated in statements of intent such as the SDGs and NUA. For example,  providing insights into how far any conditions and outcomes which can be observed reflect their influence, other factors, or potentially a combination of both—in short have such goals and agendas made any difference ‘on the ground’. Indicators on their own may reveal present conditions to be in conformity, or non-conforming, as regards given SDGs and NUA principles and goals,


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but not always why conditions are as they are, and whether these global agendas have had any influence on practices and outcomes. Combining evaluative approaches might foster reflection on the ‘global reach’ of the UN-HABITAT process and respond to calls for the NUA to ‘recognize the need for highly contextualized and locally-grounded policy responses’ (Reyes et  al., 2020, p.  359). It could also enhance understandings of how different SDG and NUA goals interrelate in given territorial settings, addressing some of the data availability and methodological challenges of using indicators (Wong, 2015; Hansson et al., 2019), and helping to grow ‘appreciation of context in policy responses’ (Reyes et  al., 2020, p.  359). Finally, by exploring if and how the principles enunciated in global documents and discussions exert influence on practice and outcomes at other scales it can help explore claims that ‘Ultimately, this new agenda may very well be regional or local, rather than global, in nature, but it is arguably within such a structure that radical change may most effectively be realized’ (Reyes et al., 2020, p. 359).

Summary The emergence of a global agenda for planning clearly creates opportunities, but also challenges, for planning and those who practice it in different world settings. It also raises a host of rich and interesting themes of enquiry for international planning studies. One theme relates to ‘universalism’ and ‘context-dependency’ in planning. Clearly there is a growing recognition that global challenges (see Box 6.2) require a collaborative approach if they are to be addressed, and statements of intent like the SDGs and NUA seek to provide a framework to assist in achieving this and monitoring progress. They are accompanied by a discourse which recognises the need for ‘localisation’ of various goals to ensure they remain relevant in and are adaptable to different local contexts. How this might be achieved in practice is sometimes less clear, raising questions such as should global sustainability agendas be promoted top down, or does meeting their goals require a more bottom-up ‘sum of the parts’ approach? The need to embed the ‘global in the local’ and the ‘local in the global’, whereby exchange of experiences facilitates learning from others, whilst adapting to local circumstances is often emphasised. It is argued that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to the challenges. Whilst the global agenda for planning articulates concepts and models which are seen as desirable to pursue globally, not all observers feel that an appropriate balance between universal ideas and context specificity has been achieved. Commenting on the NUA, Watson (2016, p. 446) argues that ‘In the framing of this new global urban goal which must apply universally, it appears that a model of planning developed in Europe, which assumes resources and capacities (and a compliant civil society) way beyond much of the rest of the world, is now expected to shape planning everywhere else’ (Watson, 2016, p. 446). She adds that ‘In many parts of the global South, governments are weak, under-resourced and under capacitated, and still highly centralised: they may not have the institutional hierarchy



(regional, metropolitan, local governments) assumed’ in the NUA to enable them to carry out the ‘extensive and comprehensive planning’ it envisages ‘let alone reversing trends of inequality and exclusion’ (Watson, 2016, p. 446). Here the notion of ‘contingent universals’ invoked by Healey (2012) and Stiftel (2021) might help bridge the aspirations of frameworks that signpost a role for planning in meeting urgent global sustainable development challenges, whilst remaining sensitive and relevant in diverse planning contexts and helping ‘analysts and practitioners avoid the traps of over-localizing and of over-generalizing’ (Healey, 2012, p. 202). The global agenda for planning also raises questions about the scope and boundaries of planning. The NUA, for example, sets many expectations regarding planning’s role and responsibilities. Reading some of its passages one is perhaps reminded of Wildavsky’s (1973) provocation that ‘If planning is everything, maybe it’s nothing?’ and Alexander’s (1981) reformulation that ‘If planning isn’t everything, maybe it’s something?’ Certainly, the global agenda for planning highlights themes which are familiar within planning—for example, the balance between more top-down or bottom-up; techno-rational or collaborative and qualitative; and growth-orientated or conservation-focussed approaches to planning to name but a few. Ultimately, however, Watson (2016, p. 435) argues that ‘in an attempt to create a universal vision that everyone could agree on and that has potential to cross borders, the [NUA] conversations and negotiations have led to an amalgam of different planning objectives and styles that is far from what today’s planning theorists would recommend’. Arguably therefore, the global agenda for planning exposes a theory-­ practice gap in thinking around planning. Certainly, there seems to be a gulf between the bold, normativism, and at times enthusiasm of many of the documents and stakeholders driving the global agenda, and the generally more circumspect and critical tone of academic commentaries on the process. There are also questions about the degree of influence the global agenda for planning will have. Though statements of intent like the NUA and SDGs have been agreed under the auspices of the UN and signed up to by national governments, the degree to which they are responded to varies. In the case of the NUA Reyes et al. (2020, p.  357) note that ‘Pending the further drafting of action plans and their implementation, the effect of the NUA will likely constitute a patchwork of piecemeal efforts around the globe which will move certain regions closer to advancing the SDGs but hardly act as a cohesive instrument for global change’. They add that ‘Implementation of the NUA will inevitably require the commitment and political will of governments at different levels and this is evidently absent in several contexts’. Then there are questions about which kind of follow-up and monitoring is appropriate. For example, does the drive to collect indicators really capture well the kinds of principles and ideas which the NUA and IGUTP articulate? Reyes et al. (2020, p. 357) comment that ‘While increased data availability with respect to previous UN-Habitats is certainly exciting, one of the recurring faults is the prescriptive and one-size-fits-all nature that efforts in the last 4 years have taken’. In some countries, international best practice and benchmarking has become a driver of reform processes with implications for spatial organisation and planning. This can


6  A Global Agenda for Planning

in some cases lead to a constant tinkering with planning systems, tools, processes, and institutions, but without due consideration being given to the human capacity of the system to perform. This striving for learning and reflection often reduces comparisons to indicators, which can often oversimplify what are complex issues. Though the first monitoring report on the NUA, published in 2017, suggested that in some places planning systems and practices were evolving in similar directions to those promoted by the NUA/IGUTP, it did not begin to evaluate how the systems were performing, or how far this apparent ‘convergence’ was due to conscious efforts to align with these agendas. Establishing how the global agenda for planning is shaping planning practices and outcomes is a rich potential theme for international planning studies to explore. The distinction between ‘implicit’ and ‘explicit’ application revealed by research into the application of the non-binding ESDP in Europe in the 2000s might usefully be mobilised here. This ‘application’ approach suggested that such frameworks may stimulate new thinking and approaches; be used as an additional ‘hook’ on which to hang or justify certain planning choices; however, that at other times the approaches promoted by national, regional, and local plans may be broadly consistent with non-binding transnational frameworks, but this is not really as a result of a direction response to these and an attempt to apply their principles. Echoing this, and taking a more positive view on the debates about the limits of universalism, as well as perhaps implicitly adopting such an ‘application perspective’; Reyes et al. (2020, p. 357) note that whilst ‘The implementation of a global policy agenda … is arguably an unreachable ideal. Nonetheless, it is providing several willing governments with tools to better guide their development in more equitable and sustainable ways’. Conversely, as with the earlier ESDP, there may be some ‘developed’ countries that feel they don’t need to respond to the NUA/IGTUP as they are ‘already doing’ the things suggested, or perhaps the policy orientations are not seen as relevant. Yet there are many cases where binary assumptions and categorisations such as ‘developed’ or ‘less developed’, ‘formal’, or ‘informal’ do not fully recognise the potential for lessons to be drawn in novel and productive ways. For example, the emergence of informality in some developed country contexts could be addressed through forms of mutual learning from countries and contexts where this is a more familiar issue for planning. Ultimately, thinking of the global agenda for planning in terms of mutual learning and ‘performance’ views of evaluation may generate richer insights for the scholar of international planning studies than assuming that all countries can be ‘mapped’ onto some kind of scale of best practice as regards a  notional ‘conformity’ with the normative principles of international planning statements. The following chapter examines the different ways in which ‘sub-global scale’ transnational contexts shape planning, by considering cross-border planning, and the settings for planning provided by transnational institutions and initiatives which have emerged in different global regions.



Exercise 6.1  How Do Different Planning Systems Address International Planning Agendas and Goals?

As discussed in this chapter there is increasing attention to how international sustainability and planning agendas can be ‘localised’ and meaningfully delivered in different places. Individually, or as part of a group, consider how the five ‘Current and Future Urban challenges’ (Box 6.3) and ‘Transformative Commitments for Sustainable Urban Development’ (Box 6.7) are being addressed in different planning systems. If you are working individually you could compare 2 or more planning systems. If working in a group each member could select a planning system to consider and findings could be compared at the end of the exercise. In approaching the exercise, you could consider: –– the general context and situation regarding the selected planning issue in the different countries –– the key institutional and legal/policy frameworks for planning within which the selected planning issue is being addressed in the countries –– providing some evaluation of the effectiveness of the approaches being adopted to the chosen issue in each country—where appropriate referring to examples of planning policies, programmes, and projects (e.g. consider using case studies) –– seeking to identify some ‘best/better’ practice lessons from the approaches adopted in the different countries; if appropriate, commenting on approaches that appear to have been less successful –– making an assessment of the potential for ‘policy transfer’ of any successful approaches adopted between the countries you have studied, or on a wider international basis

Exercise 6.2  Reflecting on the Relevance and Application of the ‘Global Agenda for Planning’ (GAP)

This exercise considers the relevance and application of the ‘global agenda for planning’ (GAP—i.e. SDGs/NUA/IGUTP goals) to a planning context at transnational, national, regional, or local level. Key themes and goals from such policy statements are summarised in Boxes 6.3, 6.5 and 6.6 above, or can be distilled from the original documents (UN-HABITAT, 2015a, 2016, 2017a). You may find it useful to approach the exercise in two stages. (continued)

6  A Global Agenda for Planning


Exercise 6.2  (continued)

Stage 1- Identifying which goals appear to be most relevant to the chosen planning context. Consider: Are conditions and processes in conformity with the aspirations of the selected goals and what data can be sourced to gauge this? Will the goals need to be tailored or adapted to the context? Is there anything in the context which would make the goals unattainable, unachievable, or even counterproductive? Which actors would need to be involved and are they likely to ‘buy­in’ to the achievement of the goals? Does the capacity (e.g. legal/administrative; financial; political support; public engagement) exist  to achieve the goals? How far might planning and planners be key to the achievement of the goals? Would there be other significant actors and agencies (e.g. the IGUTP guidelines  identify 4 key stakeholder groups—national governments, local authorities, civil society associations, and professional planning associations)? Stage 2—Gauging how far there appears to be conformity with the selected goals and what role statements of intent such as the SDGs/NAU/IGUTP have played in shaping planning practices and outcomes. Seven grades of application status are represented on the table below to capture the ‘application’ or ‘non application’ of GAP principles in planning policies, practices, or culture. They range from ‘application’ (implicit or explicit) to ‘non-application’ of GAP principles. Application does not necessarily result from an explicit application of GAP principles (performance). Rather, conformity with GAP principles, aims, and policy options might result from territorial conditions or the influence of other discourses and policies at transnational, national, regional, or local scales. Assessment categories for application or non-application of SDGs/NAU/ IGUTP goals and principles (the ‘global agenda for planning’—GAP) Status of Application Non-application Non-application Non-application Implicit application Implicit application Explicit application (partial) Explicit application (strong)

Descriptor No awareness of GAP and unapplied principles Principle not considered appropriate Principle still under discussion Already in conformity (no performance) Change and conformity mainly due to other factors rather than GAP (no performance) Change and conformity due to a combination of other factors and GAP Change and conformity mainly due to the application of the GAP

Evidence to support assessment (e.g. key documents and other data)

Adapted from Project ESPON 2.3.1 files/attachments/fr-­2.3.1-­full_rev_Jan2007.pdf



References Alexander, E. R. (1981). If planning isn’t everything, maybe it’s something. The Town Planning Review, 52(2), 131–142. Andrés-Doménech, I., Anta, J., Perales-Momparler, S., Rodriguez-Hernandez, J. (2021). Sustainable urban drainage systems in Spain: A diagnosis. Sustainability, 13(5), 2791-10.3390/ su13052791. Barnett, C., & Parnell, S. (2016). Ideas, implementation and indicators: Epistemologies of the post-2015 urban agenda. Environment and Urbanization, 28(1), 87–98. https://doi. org/10.1177/0956247815621473 Caprotti, F., Cowley, R., Datta, A., Castán Broto, V., Gao, E., Georgeson, L., Herrick, C., Nancy Odendaal, N., & Joss, S. (2017). The new urban agenda: Key opportunities and challenges for policy and practice. Urban Research & Practice, 10(3), 367–378. 0/17535069.2016.1275618 Chen, F., Ludwig, C., & Sykes, O. (2021). Heritage conservation through planning: A comparison of policies and principles in England and China. Planning Practice & Research, 36(5), 578–601. Conway, D., Dalin, C., Landman, W. A., & Osborn, J. O. (2017). Hydropower plans in eastern and southern Africa increase risk of concurrent climate-related electricity supply disruption. Nature Energy, 2(12), 946–953. Coop, S., & Thomas, H. (2007). Planning doctrine as an element in planning history: The case of Cardiff. Planning Perspectives, 22(2), 167–193. Dellas, E., & Schrieber, F. (2018). Follow-up and review of the new urban agenda. Planning Theory and Practice, 19(1), 133–137. Everard, M. (2017) Ecosystem Services  - Key Issues. London, Routledge. 10.4324/9781315531816 Fageir, M., Porter, N., & Borsi, K. (2021). Contested grounds: The regeneration of Liverpool waterfront. Planning Perspectives, 36(3), 535–557. Faludi, A. (2000). The European spatial development perspective - What next? European Planning Studies, 8(2), 237–250. Faludi, A. (2001). The application of the European spatial development perspective: Evidence from the north-West metropolitan area. European Planning Studies, 9(5), 663–675. Faludi, A. (2003). The application of the European spatial development perspective: Introduction to the special issue. The Town Planning Review, 74(1), 1–9. Fraser, A. (2018). Informality in the new urban agenda: From the aspirational policies of integration to a politics of constructive engagement. Planning Theory and Practice, 19(1), 124–126. Garschagen, M., & Porter, L. (2018). The new urban agenda: From vision to policy and action. Planning Theory and Practice, 19(1), 117–121. Garschagen, M., Porter, L., Satterthwaite, D., Fraser, A., Horne, R., Nolan, M., Solecki, W., Friedman, E., Dellas, E., & Schreiber, F. (2018). The new urban agenda: From vision to policy and action/will the new urban agenda have any positive influence on governments and international agencies?/Informality in the new urban agenda: From the aspirational policies of integration to a politics of constructive engagement/growing up or growing despair? Prospects for multi-sector progression city sustainability under the NUA/approaching risk and hazards in the new urban agenda: A commentary/follow-up and review of the new urban agenda. Planning Theory & Practice, 19(1), 117–137. Gerlofs, B. (2020). Dreaming dialectically: The death and life of the Mexico City charter for the right to the city. Urban Studies, 57(10), 2064–2079. Graute, U., D’hondt, F., Petrella, L., Bajaj, M., & Oyuela, A. (2018). International guidelines on urban and territorial planning (IG-UTP) handbook. United Nations Human Settlements Programme.


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HABITAT I. (1976). The Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements From the report of Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements,Vancouver, Canada, 31 May to 11 June 1976, (A/CONF.10/15), HABITAT: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements. pdf?OpenElement HABITAT II. (1996). Report of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) (A/CONF.165/14), Istanbul, 3-14 June 1996. Hansson, H., Arfvidsson, H., & Simon, D. (2019). Governance for sustainable urban development: The double function of SDG indicators. Area Development and Policy, 4(3), 217–235. https:// Healey, P. (2012). The universal and the contingent: Some reflections on the transnational flow of planning ideas and practices. Planning Theory, 11(2), 188–207. 10.1177/1473095211419333 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank. (2017) The World Bank Environmental and Social Framework, Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://pubdocs. Kaufmann, D., & Sidney, M. (2020). Toward an urban policy analysis: Incorporating participation, multilevel governance, and “seeing like a city”. PS: Political Science & Politics, 53(1), 1–5. Liverpool City Council. (2021) Liverpool a World Heritage City. Liverpool City Council. Retrieved August 05, 2021, from Liverpool-World-Heritage-City.pdf ( Mastop, H., & Faludi, A. (1997). Evaluation of strategic plans: The performance principle. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 24, 815–832. Reyes, A., Reyes, A., & Daigle, C. (2020). Looking Back to look forward: Evolution of the HABITAT agenda and prospects for implementation of the new urban agenda. Current Urban Studies, 8, 337–363. Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155–169. Robin, E. (2016, October 11), What is HABITAT III and why does it matter? A beginner’s guide to the new urban agenda. The Conversation. Ryser, J., & Franchini, T. (2008). International manual of planning practice. ISOCARP. Ryser, J., & Franchini, T. (2015). International manual of planning practice. ISOCARP. Satterthwaite, D. (2016). Missing the millennium development goal targets for water and sanitation in urban areas. Environment and Urbanization, 28(1), 99–118. Retrieved from http:// Satterthwaite, D. (2018). Will the new urban agenda have any positive influence on governments and international agencies? Planning Theory and Practice, 19(1), 121–123. Stiftel, B. (2019, September 2). Planners and the new urban agenda: Will we lead the agenda, or will the agenda lead us? In 16th Abercrombie Lecture University of Liverpool. Stiftel, B. (2021). Planners and the new urban agenda: Will we lead the agenda, or will the agenda lead us? Town Planning Review, 92(04), 421–441. Sykes, O., & Ludwig, C. (2015). Defining and managing the historic urban landscape: Reflections on the English experience and some stories from Liverpool. European Spatial Research and Policy, 22(02), 9–35. UNESCO. (2003). Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible heritage. UNESCO. UNESCO. (2011). Recommendation on the historic urban landscape, including a glossary of definitions. Retrieved from­URL_ID=48857&URL_DO=DO_ TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html UNESCO. (2021). World Heritage Committee deletes Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City from UNESCO’s World Heritage List  - UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from World Heritage Committee deletes Liverpool  - Maritime Mercantile City from UNESCO’s World Heritage List - UNESCO World Heritage Centre



UNESCO World Heritage Committee. (2012). World heritage committee places Liverpool on list of world heritage in danger. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from news/890 UN-HABITAT. (2009). Planning sustainable cities: Global report on human settlements. Earthscan. UN-HABITAT. (2015a). International guidelines on urban and territorial planning. UN-HABITAT. UN-HABITAT. (2015b). International guidelines on urban and territorial planning - Towards a compendium of inspiring practices. UN-HABITAT. UN-HABITAT. (2017a) New urban agenda. UN Habitat. Retrieved from­ content/uploads/NUA-­English.pdf UN-HABITAT. (2017b) Subject index of the new urban agenda. Retrieved from Subject Index -­ Habitat III ( UN-HABITAT. (2017c). NUA glossary. Retrieved from Glossary -­Habitat III ( UN-HABITAT. (2018). Leading change: Delivering the new urban agenda through urban and territorial planning. UN-HABITAT. United Nations (UN). (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. United Nations. Ward, S. (1999). The international diffusion of planning: A review and a Canadian case study. International Planning Studies, 4(1), 53–77. Watson, V. (2016). Locating planning in the new urban agenda of the urban sustainable development goal. Planning Theory, 15(4), 435–448. Watson, V. (2017). Planning and the new urban agenda (pp. 12–13). Urban Design. West, T. (2021). Liverpool’s European capital of culture legacy narrative: A selective heritage? European Planning Studies, 30, 534. Wildavsky, A. (1973). If planning is everything, maybe it’s nothing. Policy Sciences, 4, 127–153. Wong, C. (2015). A framework for ‘city prosperity index’: Linking indicators, analysis and policy. Habitat International, 45(1), 3–9. World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our common future. United Nations & Oxford University Press. Zheng, J. (2007). Conservation planning for heritage sites: A critical review and case studies. University of London.


Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

Introduction: Planning ‘Above and Beyond’ the State (2) Traditionally planning systems are seen as operating in national spaces (see Chap. 5) constrained by borders. However, such borders are essentially political constructs, lines on a map, which can be disputed, and sometimes adjusted, for example, following conflicts. Often the ‘container’ like geographies of state territorialism do not reflect the realities of cross-border material flows of goods and persons, the lived experiences, and identities of those that live in border areas and participate in various activities either side of the border. There is also a growing realisation that planning needs to be cognisant of relational geographies of a world characterised by cross-border flows—not only those generated by human activities, but those of the natural world. These can take place at a number of different scales, generating a variety of impacts and implications for planning. UN-HABITAT (2015, p. 2) thus refers to ‘the multiscale continuum of spatial planning’ and how: At supranational and transboundary level, multinational regional strategies could help direct investment to address global issues such as climate change and energy efficiency, enable the integrated expansion of urban areas in cross-border regions, mitigate natural risks and improve the sustainable management of shared natural resources.

As noted in Chap. 6, however, the degree of compulsion behind such exhortations often remains rather ‘soft’. In certain places regions which appear logically as natural, or functional, planning units in the analyses and imaginaries of planners, conservationists, economic development specialists, transport planners and sometimes border-dwelling citizens,  may be viewed differently by the ‘high politics’ (Peña, 2007) of international relations and national states. In fact, features like rivers and mountain chains, which may imply some need to coordinate cross-boundary action in planning terms, are often conversely constituted as borders to be maintained, or defended under state territorialism (Faludi, 2013, 2018). This is important to bear in mind, not least as the context for transnational working and strategy © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 O. Sykes et al., International Planning Studies, Planning, Environment, Cities,



7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

development in different parts of the globe varies widely given differing geopolitical conditions and international relations between states. Informed by the context and themes above, the rest of this chapter reviews various kinds of ‘transnational planning’ including cross-border and supranational planning contexts and examples of  related policies and strategies. It firstly considers planning for cross-border regions, nodes, and urban areas. Secondly, the influence of different forms of transnational regionalism on planning, including the effects of regional supranationalism, is considered. The conclusion offers some general reflections on the relevance of transnational scales, institutions, and initiatives for planning.

Cross-Border Planning What Are Borders and Why Do They Matter to Planning? In many ways cross-border regions can be seen as ‘laboratories’ of the trends and planning issues and responses discussed throughout this book, revealing both the possibilities and challenges of thinking and acting from an international perspective in planning. Border areas (sometimes described more evocatively as ‘borderlands’, or ‘borderscapes’) are places where international flows of persons, goods, and capital encounter and sometimes confront, challenge, and overcome state territoriality. It is important to recognise too that under conditions of globalisation borders exist in abstract spatial and relational terms as much as ‘on the ground’. A search for ‘cross-border planning’ in Google, for example, yields a mixed set of results—most relating to the promotion of services for those with financial affairs in ‘more than one land’ rather than the kind of ‘cross-border planning’ considered below. To consider the latter kind of ‘cross-border planning’ it is first necessary to consider the concept and role of borders, some of their effects on spatial development, and the kinds of territories which result from these. As noted by Patent (2017, para. 4), ‘Borders may be permeable or closed. In the more permeable state they allow exchange of people goods and ideas. In the more closed state they prevent the flow of people, ideas and goods’. The permeability and indeed the stability of borders affects the flows of goods and services and people across boundaries, and this can have a profound effect on development opportunities and trends either side of a border which may also evolve through time. Historically border regions were often ravaged by war—for example, the destruction of parts of northern France and Belgium during WWI led to significant reconstruction of cities like Ypres/Ieper in the post-war period and drove the need for new planning legislation. Herzog and Sohn (2014, p. 442) refer to this history in reflecting on the emergence of cross-border functional urban regions: The evolution of trans-frontier metropolitan regions remains a very recent phenomenon if one looks at the historic relationship between cities and territorial boundaries.… Before 1950, in fact, border regions were viewed as buffer zones that helped to protect the nation from invasion by land. Under these conditions, there were few significant cities near national boundaries

Cross-Border Planning


Today, by contrast, in settings where peace and greater permeability have been established, ‘The border can counterbalance peripheralization and marginalization trends that border regions might experience in their state’ and their ‘inbetweenness’ can be seen as a ‘resource or as a barrier’ (Nienaber & Wille, 2020, pp. 2–3). Thus, such areas may become sites of opportunity rather than of rupture and open the possibility for places to reposition themselves both nationally and internationally. For example, there may be competitive advantages for some businesses to locate close to a border for logistical reasons or to access labour and customers on either side of the border. The case of the US-Mexico border in North America provides an example of this where ‘A cheap labour enclave on the Mexican side of the border (i.e. maquiladoras) is linked to a headquarter office and warehouse on the US side of the border’ (Herzog & Sohn, 2014, p.  448). Meanwhile, cross-border nodes are the points where goods and people usually cross the border. As trade has intensified logistic hubs situated in such nodes have generated demands for space, whether for loading, unloading, distribution or storage, or further processing of imported products. As well as broader inter-state exchanges and cross-border regions, there are also a number of metropolitan areas around the globe which straddle national borders. Commenting on the trends noted above, Herzog and Sohn (2014, p.  442) note how: We have entered a new global age where property at the edges of nations can attract investors, businesses and governments. Industrial parks, highways, rail systems and airports that once bypassed international frontiers are relocating there. It is now possible for large cities to be developed along international frontiers.

The development issues faced in such areas and the possibilities of planning to address these can be affected by border permeability or closedness, and processes of de- and re-bordering (Herzog & Sohn, 2014). It should also be noted that in addition to crossing points, nodes, and ports on physical borders, in legal terms state borders are also to be found at sites remote from the physical border such as airports (in fact a majority of flows, especially of people may enter national territories across such borders). Whilst spatial effects can be generated around such points of entry and departure (e.g. development pressure in the vicinity of airports), the primary focus here is on the cross-border planning of areas that are adjacent to, or whose development it affected by, physical international borders. Notions of adjacency and the economic, ecological, social, and cultural extent of ‘functional’ border regions can also vary and are context dependent. For example, Cappellano et al.’s (2021, p. 2) notion of Cross Border Regional Planning (CBRP) ‘focuses on regional scale in borderland partnerships which goes beyond cooperation between twin cities but encompasses actors in a larger geographical scope (+200 km distant)’.


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

 iffering Geopolitical and Governance Contexts D for Cross-Border Planning Wider geopolitical contexts and governance structures also affect how cross-border issues are planned and managed. As Nienaber and Wille (2020, p. 3) note with reference to  Europe, ‘border regions cannot be seen as independent entities, but are located in a multilevel governance system of global developments, European, national, regional and local policies, actors, networks and social, economic, historical and political contexts’. A border between two or more states may thus be located within a part of the world where there is some form of overarching multilateral agreement, or supranational entity, to which the individual states are party and within which border regions and urban areas are ‘nested’. The motivations for crossborder cooperation and strategy-making vary too, in terms of both the interests of places and actors on each side of the border, and the broader regional context. Contrasting the European and North American contexts for cross-border regionalism, Scott (1999, p. 613), for example, notes how regional strategies are ‘conditioned by the overall contexts of interstate integration and are thus characteristic of the specific strategic orientations of political and economic co-operation in the two settings’. He observes how ‘With a very different history than that of Europe, North America’s drive for regional integration is motivated by economic concerns rather than any sense of a ‘North American destiny’’ (1999, p. 610), though he also notes how ‘In both cases regional strategies are heavily oriented towards economic development, infrastructure and [related] issues’ (p.  613). In the EU context, there is ‘formal’ institutional and financial support for cross-boundary working (see Box 7.1). In North America ‘In contrast to the European situation, NAFTA [now replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement] adheres to a logic of limited integration that recognizes, for example, the fact of functional interdependence of border cities and regions, but does not envisage a ‘borderless’ North America, nor a comprehensive policy-making process at the supranational level’ (Scott, 1999, p. 610). A further issue to consider is that whilst the logic of cross-border cooperation and joint approaches to certain planning issues may seem clear to some actors (e.g. planners), effectively delivering these can be made more complex in practice by the embeddedness of border areas in the multi-level political, institutional, and governance settings described above. As Nienaber and Wille (2020, p. 2) note, ‘Crossborder processes need … to overcome discontinuities that result from, for example, differences of systems, political cultures or a complex situation of actors involved in the specific conditions and contexts of border regions’. One of the complexities is that, by definition, different parts of a cross-border region, or metropolitan area, remain embedded within the territories of two, or more, nation states. One issue which can arise as a result in such areas is the extent to which national concerns and ‘high politics’ trump local issues of ‘low politics’. Thus Peña (2007, p. 11) notes how in the 2000s in the United States ‘Under the post 9/11 conditions, “low politics” cross-border planning such as environmental infrastructure has taken the back seat with respect to “high-politics” cross-border planning such as national security’.

Cross-Border Planning


In some parts of the globe borders also remain places of closure, and incipient, or open, conflict. But even where a supranational framework ostensibly creates a favourable setting for cross-border cooperation and action the tendency for national concerns to override local interest can arise leading to processes of ‘re-bordering’, or reassertion of state territorialism (Faludi, 2013, 2018). Thus, Decoville and Durand (2017, p. 66) note how Europe ‘is nowadays threatened by a tendency towards a reclosure of borders in a context of multiple crises (terrorist risks, the refugee crisis)’ and that ‘border regions are hotspots that condense most of the challenges that the European construct faces’. There are many cases where centralised state jurisdiction and ‘interference’ in local and regional affairs, and the choices of voters at an ‘aggregate’ state level, have created new challenges for cross-border territories and their populations and development—as in the case of President Donald Trump’s ‘wall’ on the US-Mexico border, or the impacts of the UK’s departure from the EU on Northern Ireland. State-level politics and policy can thus have profound effects on cross-border territories. A recent study of the cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, for example, reveals how federal policies influence local land use outcomes and decisions and that ‘changes in land use logically correspond to federal level policy, despite the fact that policy has nothing to do with local land use’ (Entrikin, 2019, p. 34). More specifically, ‘When federal immigration policy plays such a key role in the economic relationships of border cities, and the economic relationship is a driver in land use decisions, local land use in border cities becomes the manifestation of federal international policy’ (Entrikin, 2019, p. 38). Land use patterns at the border thus come to reflect remote policy choices, not local ones. However, in North America, Scott (1999, p.  612) also notes that ‘Within this trinational context, for example, ecological concerns were successfully added to the co-operation agenda thanks, in great measure, to the efforts of US  - Mexican border cities faced with environmental pressures’ that ‘(rightly) felt that local interests and local impacts of free trade were not being sufficiently considered by policy-makers’. Challenges to effective cross-border working may also originate from dynamics at the more local or regional level and from the territorially bounded nature of planning itself, notably as regards the development and planning interests of different  cross-border territories. Thus, Scott notes, ‘As far as co-operation in urban planning is concerned, local patriotism has resisted most attempts to regionalize land use and growth management policies insofar as they affect housing, industrial and commercial development’ (Scott, 1999, p. 610). Yet the fact that this situation can arise is again a product of the fact that planning systems remain territorially bounded. Durand (2014, p. 117) observes that ‘From a conceptual point of view, the aim of cross-border planning is to develop a common project with a variety of actors on both sides of the border in order to discuss a joint development strategy. However, from an operational point of view, that is to say, in implementing cross-border development projects, matters are more complex’. Paasi and Zimmerbauer (2016, p. 75) note a tension/contradiction in so far as ‘In strategic planning, planners need to think increasingly in terms of open, porous borders despite the fact that in concrete planning activities, politics, and governance, the region continues to exist largely in the form of bounded and territorial political units’. Similarly, Durand (2014, p. 129) comments:


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

at present, binding planning documents are limited to their sphere of competence and do not extend to areas outside the territory, beyond borders. There is also a discrepancy between the discourse and stated ambitions of local political actors and the reality of a legal planning framework which limits the implementation of a concerted development strategy.

When studying ‘cross-border planning’ it is therefore important to be clear about which kind of planning is being referred to (see discussion in Chaps. 1 and 5). Recognising this, Decoville and Durand (2017, p. 66) use what they acknowledge is the ‘quite ambiguous terminology of “territorial strategy”’ to ‘mean a document, developed at the cross-border level, which summarises the priorities shared by all the parties concerning territorial development and which should help to formulate policies in the field of spatial planning’. However, they explicitly note that such ‘cross-border territorial strategies cannot be perceived as spatial planning documents stricto sensu since there is no cross-border jurisdiction in this field’ and ‘Spatial planning remains totally embedded in national and regional contexts’ (2017, p. 66). None of this is to argue that such cross-border cooperation and resulting strategies are not important for planning, or that those trained and working as planners might not find themselves becoming involved in such initiatives. But, rather, it is to note that it is important to be clear about terms, so that a realistic assessment can be made of the potential to address cross-border dynamics and implement cross-border objectives through planning. Some of the other kinds of ‘boundaries’ in planning, such as those across sectoral boundaries, can also be significant  when considering cross-border planning. The aspiration, notably in some spatial planning systems (Chap. 5), to coordinate wider spatially significant policymaking is frequently challenging enough to achieve within a single territorial unit even before cross ‘territorial’ boundary issues are considered. However, somewhat ironically perhaps, it can also be at the sectorally/technically specific, ‘problem solving’, project level that progress can be made. Thus Durand (2014, p. 124) notes, with regard to the metropolitan areas of Luxembourg and Lille that ‘In terms of the projects achieved, two main themes emerge’ concerning crossborder spatial planning ‘accessibility (road, rail and river transport projects) and specialized issues concerning water and risk management (joint projects concerning water supply and management of waste water)’. Similarly, he notes that ‘more environmental projects’ seem to be those ‘for which it is easier, politically, to find a compromise with neighbouring partners, in particular to deal with shared problems (such as flooding) or to seek the optimization of a public facility by pooling resources for its construction and management (water treatment plants)’. Ultimately, he concludes, ‘it is clear that many of the cross-border development projects which succeed are ones which (re)create a junction (bridges, roads, footbridges) or connections between technical networks (water, electricity, telephone, drainage)’. It seems therefore that ‘hard’ physical and ‘technical’ cross-border issues and challenges which need to be resolved can provide the focus for practical cross-border cooperation. This again leads to reflection on the kind of planning which might be pursued under which institutional arrangements. Some have approached the

Cross-Border Planning


study of cross-border cooperation from the perspective of ‘soft spaces’ (Allmendinger et al., 2015) ‘notable for their flexible territorial configurations that transect national administrative borders’ and ‘intended to cope with manifold common challenges, such as congested cross-border transport networks’ (Caesar, 2017, p. 248). Given that the ‘soft nature’ of some cross-border cooperation ‘has hindered implementation ambitions’ (Caesar, 2017, p.  253), some cross-border cooperation initiatives have sought to ‘harden’ themselves institutionally and ‘to increase their independence from the national level and gain enhanced powers’ (Caesar, 2017, p. 248). These processes raise questions such as whether such institutional ‘hardening’ actually enhances the effectiveness of cross-border strategy making and actions, and how these  might relate to planning. They also focus attention on how far crossborder cooperation is promoted through formal institutional frameworks and processes, and the actors that drive it. The extent to which cross-border reflection and cooperation is driven by public actors such as local, regional, nation states, or supranational bodies and/or by a wider coalition of private and civil interests varies, as illustrated by the examples discussed below.

Informal Cross-Border Cooperation in North America The Cascadia Innovation Corridor (CIC) spans the British Columbia-Washington State region of the Canada-US border. It began in 2016, largely promoted by Microsoft, when a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Washington State and British Columbia, which, although not legally binding, established a vision of advancing Cascadia as a cross-border innovation ecosystem, including a new high-speed rail connection between Seattle and Vancouver (Cappellano et  al., 2021, p.  1, 4). The impetus came from US federal and state immigration policies which restricted the access of  highly-skilled workers to  the United States (Cappellano et al., 2021, p. 4). Research into the CIC, as an example of Cross-Border Regional Planning (CBRP), hints at ‘a discrepancy between supraregional ‘soft planning’ and the urban planning level’ in the cities within the territory, such as Seattle and Vancouver, where planning documents still have an ‘inward’ focus’ and there was scant evidence of ‘interest on border issues, relationships with neighbours on the other side of the international border, and cross-border regional development’ (Cappellano, et  al., 2021, p.  1, 9). However, this may be changing with the two cities signing a partnership to boost economic development in 2019. However, in practice, ‘The majority of the impediments to tighter cooperation in Cascadia pertain to federal level jurisdiction which highlights the challenges of CBRP’. Despite this ‘the advancement of the CIC … occurred alongside deteriorating bi-national relations at the federal scale between the U.S. and Canada’ (Cappellano et al., 2021, p. 13). The North American Borderplex Alliance is a nonprofit public/private organisation dedicated to economic development and policy advocacy in the El Paso, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, ‘three-state,


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

two-country region’ along the US-Mexico border. In 2015 it released a regional strategic plan, Borderplex 2020, which aimed to unify the Borderplex and leverage ‘the many combined assets within the area to compete globally, grow emerging industry sectors, and attract new investments and jobs’. The narrative around the initiative clearly reflects the idea of seeking to derive advantage and profile from a border setting. It is stated that Borderplex 2020 ‘will help ensure the future economic prosperity and diversity of the region and aims to insert quality into all aspects of business and daily living environments’ and that ‘As the global economy becomes interconnected, the Borderplex must find a way to stand out’ (added emphases, Para. 2). The case made is that ‘Banded together as one coordinated region, the three major cities in the Borderplex offer a wide range of opportunities for development’ and that ‘Working regionally, the cities are more powerful than the sum of their parts’ (Borderplex Alliance, 2015, p. 6). There is also an emphasis on the development of a regional identity seen as important in helping the region ‘to grow beyond a reputation as a low-wage, low-skill work basin to a vibrant center of Biomedical research, technology innovation, advanced manufacturing leadership and bi-modal transportation logistics’ (Borderplex Alliance, 2015, p. 24). Nine task forces have been created covering regional planning, education and workforce, and a range of key regional economic sectors including defence and aerospace, advanced logistics, life sciences, and tourism. The first of three overarching goals is to ‘Spearhead Regional Collaboration and Planning’ (Fig. 7.1). One of the key actions is to ‘Create an Informal Regional Council of Planning Departments’ which should include planning councils and development departments from all three cities, to ‘coordinate and communicate regional planning efforts, ensure high quality of services, streamline development processes and share know how’ (Borderplex Alliance, 2015, p. 31). Once again it is important to note that overall, the Borderplex 2020 Plan is described as an informal Regional Economic Development Strategic Plan. However, its agenda has clear implications for planning and infrastructure, both of which it discusses.

Fig. 7.1  Strategic objectives of Borderplex 2020 (Borderplex Alliance, 2015, p. 22)

Cross-Border Planning


Cross-Border Metropolitan Planning in a Supportive Context: The Lille—Kortrijk–Tournai Eurometropolis The French–Belgian border ‘can be currently characterized by its porosity’ (Durand & Perrin, 2018, p.  325). The Eurometropolis of Lille–Kortrijk– Tournai is a metropolitan area which straddles this border covering an area of 3589  km2 with a total of 2.1 million French or Dutch-speaking inhabitants). It consists of 157 municipalities drawn from the West Flanders  (WestVlaanderen) and Walloon (Wallonie) regions and extending over seven districts in Belgium and from the inter-communal institution Métropole Européenne de Lille (MEL) situated in the Hauts-de-France region in France. Therefore the Belgium– France ‘nation state border’ is not the only kind of border which transects the ‘Eurometropolis’. There are also regional borders Wallonia/Flanders/Hauts-deFrance and a linguistic border between French- and Dutch-speaking areas—the latter being even more significant than the state and regional borders for some stakeholders (Durand & Perrin, 2018). As its name suggests the Eurometropolis is centred around three main cities: Lille (France), Kortrijk (Flanders), and Tournai (Wallonia), and at the centre of the Brussels/London/Paris triangle. The cross-border urban fabric is partially continuous and at a density more typical of north-western European regions than, for example, most of France. The area has a dense network of roads and two major motorways not only linking France and Belgium but also providing corridors southwards towards Paris and southern Europe and towards the Channel ports and the UK and Ireland. It is also a central node on the north-west European high-speed rail network. The area has long experienced cross-border flows, with workers arriving in Lille to work, from Belgium and further afield, notably in the area’s textile industries. Today around 47,000 inhabitants of the Métropole européenne de Lille travel to Belgium, whilst 32,000 Belgian residents enter the conurbation of Lille each day (Durand & Perrin, 2018 citing Lille Métropole (LMCU), 2010)). The cross-border flows arise for various reasons, notably work and study (around 33%), shopping and accessing services (around 33%), with the remainder being trips made for recreation, tourism, and other activities. Cross-border institutional structures can be traced back to the early 1990s when intermunicipal groupings from France and Belgium began working together. It was soon recognised that a cross-border agenda required financial and political capacity to deliver projects and cooperation from other levels of jurisdiction. The French and Belgian governments subsequently signed the ‘Brussels Agreement’ and a French– Belgian Parliamentary Working Group was created in 2005, to identify the main legal, legislative, and regulatory obstacles limiting effective cross-border cooperation. In 2008, the Eurometropolis became the pioneer European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC—see Box 7.1) regrouping 14 partners drawn from all French and Belgian institutional levels (2 countries, 3 regions, 2 provinces, and 1 department as well as 5 intermunicipal associations). This reflected a political


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

commitment to cross-border working and the choice of a ‘European development path’ by leading actors in the MEL (Perrin, 2016). The Eurometropolis represents a ‘coming together’ to build critical mass and boost the profile of the area internationally. Research by Durand and Perrin (2018, p. 327), which interviewed key actors in the area, showed that there is also a continued awareness that there is still competition between the territories of the Eurometropolis which share the same locational attributes of proximity to the border. Yet there is cooperation ‘to share public facilities and to seek complementarity between the territories’ and  the three main cities have a shared stand at the annual MIPIM (Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier) property fair. Local actors try to take ‘advantage of the positive aspects, both of cooperation and of competition’ referring to this approach as ‘Coopetition’ (Durand & Perrin, 2018, p. 327). The Eurometropolis has evolved in an environment supportive of cross-border cooperation across the supranational, national, regional, and local levels. There is local-local and regional-regional cooperation and the area is embedded into the territories of relevant EU initiatives too, with the national states also being supportive. Durand and Perrin (2018, p. 328) note, however, that despite strong ‘institutionalization of cross-border cooperation’, ‘cross-border planning and policies are weak in the mind of actors’ who ‘highlight the lack of concrete achievements and the lack of strategic and operational planning’. Despite the very different context—as in the Cascadia Corridor—inwardness in planning documents can be an issue (Durand, 2014, p.  122). The two main French planning documents—the regional-level ‘SRADT’ and metropolitan ‘SCOT’—do, however, note that ‘the cross-border metropolis of Lille is already a reality’ and ‘Development guidelines have been defined with a concrete and functional vision (creation of a cross-border structure, improvement of accessibility within the cross-border territory, redefining urban functions)’ (Durand, 2014, p. 122). Local actors have ‘made the decision to anchor Lille’s metropolitan development in a cross-border dimension and to take advantage of development potential for positioning the metropolis in competition with other global cities’. Since 2015, following a reform on intermunicipal status in France, the Métropole européenne de Lille, like the  other cross-border agglomerations Strasbourg and Nice, must adopt a cross-border Schéma de coopération transfrontalière. Overall, the Eurometropolis shows how cross-border cooperation is not a ‘linear’ but an iterative process which can come in cycles (Durand, 2014, p.  130). After the ‘euphoria’ of the 1990s, with the launch of the INTERREG initiative (Box 7.1) and building of the Channel Tunnel and high-speed railway lines, today ‘the institutional actors have a more realistic and mature attitude towards coping with the challenges and issues of the Eurometropolis project’ (Durand & Perrin, 2018, p. 331).

Cross-Border Planning


Box 7.1  Cross-Border Cooperation in a Supranational Setting: European Territorial Cooperation

Cross-border cooperation (CBC) in Europe has been driven by a range of different factors, both from the bottom-up and in the wider context of EU supranationalism. Initial examples predate EU action in the field and the founding of its INTERREG initiative—for example, the Dutch-German border region EUREGIO was established in 1965. Today the European Commission ‘promotes soft planning in soft cross-border and transnational spaces as part of its Cohesion policy’ (Faludi, 2013, p. 1312). ‘The variety of CBC is now very broad, ranging from informal meetings between actors in the cross-border regions, through different types of formalization and institutionalization, to the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) as a legal entity’, and these initiatives ‘can vary in terms of their organizational forms, the content-related orientation, their territorial perimeters or the networks, stakeholders and actors involved’ (Nienaber & Wille, 2020, p. 2). Financial support for cooperation is provided by the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC), programme, also known as the ‘Interreg’. This is part of EU Cohesion Policy and provides a framework and financial support for joint actions and policy exchanges between national, regional, and local actors from different Member States. The overarching objective of ETC is to promote a harmonious economic, social, and territorial development of the Union as a whole. There have been successive Interreg programmes which run over the EU’s multiannual programming periods—for example, during the 2021–2027 programming period around EUR 8 billion (in 2018 prices) has been committed to support cooperation activities. Four strands of cooperation are supported: European Cross-Border Cooperation, known as Interreg A, supports cooperation between regions from at least two different Member States ‘lying directly on the borders or adjacent to them’. It aims to tackle common challenges identified jointly in the border regions, to exploit the untapped growth potential in border areas, while enhancing the cooperation process for the purposes of the overall harmonious development of the Union. The contemporary and historical context is that ‘37.5% of the EU population lives in border areas, along some 38 internal borders made up of geographic, linguistic barriers often bearing the scars of European wars’. Cooperation is thus seen as moving from the need in some cases to ‘heal the scars of history’ towards addressing common challenges (e.g. risk prevention and emergency responses), through to more integrated cooperation approaches aimed at  jointly exploiting untapped potential to boost economic development in often peripheral regions. Such cooperation is seen as being important in contributing to harmonious territorial development by retaining population and talent in border areas that might otherwise migrate to more dynamic economic centres and regions within nation states, and indeed across Europe. To enhance opportunities and the quality of life in border regions investments (continued)


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

Box 7.1  (continued)

are made in areas such as innovation, health care, education, employment, and labour mobility. The majority of the budget for ETC is allocated to this strand of cooperation (around 72% in the 2021–2027 programming period). Transnational cooperation, known as Interreg B, involves regions from several countries of the EU forming bigger areas, or ‘macroregions’ (see Box 7.3 on the Baltic Sea Region). The term ‘transnational’ thus has a quite specific meaning when it is used in the EU Cohesion Policy context. The aim is to promote better cooperation and regional development within the EU by a joint approach to tackle common issues such as communication corridors, flood management, international business and research linkages, and the development of more viable and sustainable markets. Project investments are made in innovation (especially networks of universities, research institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises); environment (especially water resources, rivers, lakes, sea); accessibility (including telecommunications, and in particular the completion of networks); and sustainable urban development (especially polycentric development). The goal is to recognise and use the European dimension of regional development to identify agreed priorities and develop a coordinated strategic response to key issues across the programme areas. The second largest amount of the budget for ETC is allocated to this strand of cooperation (around 18% in the 2021–2027 programming period). Interregional cooperation, known as Interreg C, works at pan-European level, covering all EU Member States, Norway, and Switzerland. Unlike the other strands of ETC it is not based on territorial contiguity, but nevertheless is relevant to territorial development and planning. It supports networks to develop good practice and facilitate the exchange and transfer of experience to showcase ‘what regions do well’ through four interregional cooperation programmes: –– Interreg EUROPE—a policy learning programme for European public authorities promoting the exchange of experience and the transfer of good practices between actors at all levels in Europe. –– INTERACT—support to programme managing authorities tasked with the administration of cooperation programmes. –– URBACT—support to networks between local and regional bodies facing similar urban challenges to find common solutions for a sustainable and integrated urban development in Europe it and help cities to exchange information and identify good practices. –– ESPON—funds pan-European territorial research and analysis to support public authorities and the development of regions in line with the EU Cohesion Policy as well as national development policies. The latter two programmes in particular have particularly strong links with urban development and spatial planning. A smaller proportion of the budget (continued)

Cross-Border Planning


Box 7.1  (continued)

for ETC is allocated to this strand of cooperation (around 6% in the 2021–2027 programming period). Cooperation in the Outermost regions is known as Interreg D and concerns nine such regions of the EU member states France, Portugal, and Spain. This is allocated the smallest share of the budget for ETC (around 3.5% in the 2021–2027 programming period). There are also a number of regional development co-operation programmes with areas outside the EU to support regional development along the EU’s external borders with countries which are either candidates for EU membership or potential candidates, and also with so-called third countries such as Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. URBACT IV, for example, now covers EU pre-accession countries such as Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. This reflects the interactions with neighbouring countries and regions and recognises that not all parts of Europe are in the EU—though they may be integrated to greater and lesser degrees with common frameworks such as the European Economic Area, Single European Market, Customs Union, and Schengen Area. Finally, since 2007 the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) has acted as legal entity that enables regional and local authorities and other public bodies from different member states, to set up cooperation groupings with a legal personality and currently there are 78 EGTCs (e.g.  the  Eurometropole Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai discussed above). They are designed to facilitate and promote cross-border, transnational, and interregional cooperation. Sources: european-territorial/

 ross-Border Cooperation on the Island of Ireland: Addressing C the Uncertain Impacts of Rebordering EU membership and international agreements such as the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998 have provided the basis for cross-border cooperation on the island of Ireland. There is, however, uncertainty surrounding future cross-border cooperation given the retreat of the UK from the EU (so-called Brexit). The situation is complicated politically as two of the territories of the present UK with the closest spatial, social, economic, and environmental links to  the Republic of Ireland—Northern Ireland (NI) and Scotland—voted to remain within the EU.  Commenting on the situation Cave and Semple (2018, pp.  41–42) note that ‘The shared body of EU laws and regulations, known as the acquis communautaire (acquis), has provided regulatory alignment on a cross-border basis’ and that ‘Concerns have been expressed in relation to the potential for regulatory divergence post Brexit and the possible impacts of this’. With regard to planning, they add that


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

‘While NI and Ireland operate under different planning systems, both systems have been influenced by developments in the EU’. For example, both the Project Ireland 2040 – National Planning Framework in Ireland (NPF) (Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, 2018) and the Regional Development Strategy (RDS) 2035 (Department for Regional Development, 2010) for NI  reference the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) (see Box 7.2) and the need for co-operation across the border in order to encourage development. The NPF includes a chapter specifically titled ‘Working With Our Neighbours’ which considers links with the EU, NI, England, Scotland and Wales (Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, 2018, pp. 106–115). Earlier, a non-statutory document Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland  – Framework for Collaboration (InterTradeIreland, 2006) was adopted to guide cooperation in the implementation of spatial strategies. The north-west of the island was one area seen as requiring cross-border co-operative working to promote a Derry/Londonderry Letterkenny gateway for economic growth and development. Regionally significant cross-border projects are also seen as needing a common approach on each side of the border. However, in future there could be concerns about different jurisdictions ‘potentially working to different overarching spatial planning frameworks and environmental requirements’ (Cave & Semple, 2018, p. 43). To try and address such issues, Ireland’s latest NPF of 2018, ‘aims to promote an all-island approach to planning and development through cross-border cooperation in strategic planning and the coordination of national, regional and local authority policies and plans’ (Cave & Semple, 2018, p. 43). It identifies three key areas of focus for cross-border cooperation: (1) Working together for economic advantage (Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor, North West Strategic Group Partnership and Cross Border Local Initiatives); (2) Coordination in investment for infrastructure (mobility and accessibility, energy, communications and tourism); and (3) Managing our shared environment responsibly. Environmental requirements are another area where ‘Planning is informed and influenced greatly by environmental requirements, which are currently driven by EU legislation’—for example, the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directives and their assessment requirements for plans and projects. The EU Habitats Directive also drives biodiversity conservation in Ireland and NI requiring ‘appropriate assessment’ to make sure designated sites and species are not harmed by development. Under this and the EU Birds Directive there are also a number of cross-border sites designated as part of the Natura 2000 network of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). NGOs in Ireland have called for a common approach to nature conservation on both sides of the border. One concern has been with ‘governance gaps’ in relation to environmental provisions given that  in NI these  will no longer be subject to the oversight of the European Commission but a new so-called Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) which will cover England and Northern Ireland. This has political

Cross-Border Planning


importance as environment was identified under the Good Friday Agreement as one of the key areas for ‘North-South cooperation and implementation’. Ireland’s latest NPF notes the importance of cross-border collaboration with regard to Letterkenny, in the context of the North-West Gateway Initiative, and Drogheda-Dundalk, in relation to the Dublin-Belfast economic corridor, as crossborder networks for regional development (Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, 2018, p. 22–23, 27). Local councils on both sides of the border are responsible for community planning in NI, or local economic and community development in Ireland. A 2017 study highlighted some of the main concerns from people living and working in the Central Border Area and the importance of preserving the benefits of cross-border collaborative working for the area in overcoming severe social, political, and economic challenges, as well as violent conflict (Hayward, 2017). Finally, cross-border working often requires resources and the peace process in Northern Ireland has received financial support from the EU since 1989, through both EU regional policy (e.g. the PEACE crossborder cooperation programme in the context of European Territorial Cooperation—ETC) and EU contributions to the International Fund for Ireland (IFI). The PEACE (now  ‘PEACE Plus’) programme  will continue for the 2021–2027 EU programming period. The situation on the island of Ireland reflects how political changes at other levels can impact on border areas and cross-border cooperation. It also demonstrates how shifts in ‘abstract’ relational economic and regulatory spaces such as those defined by the Single European Market and Customs Union can have impacts ‘on the ground’. A key goal has thus been to avoid the installation of a ‘hard border’ on land on the island of Ireland with requirements for border infrastructures and a disruption of flows across the border. The situation also reflects how the ‘poverty of territorialism’ described by Faludi (2013, 2018) generates democratic deficits, as the people of NI voted against ‘Brexit’ and the people of the Republic of Ireland had no vote on the changes which will impact their lives and territorial context.

 onservation Across Borders: The Case of the Sengwe-Tshipise C Wilderness Corridor Chirozva et  al. (2017, p.  1) note how ‘In southern Africa, the creation of TransFrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) has renewed debates on the impacts of such initiatives on biodiversity and local communities’ and how ‘One of the arguments for establishing TFCAs is that nature does not respect political borders’. One such area is the Great Limpopo TFCA, which includes the Sengwe-Tshipise Wilderness Corridor (STWC), ‘a thin strip of communal land that separates the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and the Kruger National Park in South Africa’ (UN-HABITAT, 2015, p. 33).


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

The STWC has been cited as an example of good practice in the Compendium of Inspiring Practices developed by UN-HABITAT to support and illustrate the IGTUP (UN-HABITAT, 2015). Before 2002, uncoordinated management resulted in fences separating sovereign territory, threatening spatial continuity, biodiversity conservation, and effective ecosystem management. A treaty signed between Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe created the Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Park (GLTP) with an area of 37,572 km2 within which the STWC ‘was a key milestone in transfrontier conservation and collaboration efforts’ (UN-HABITAT, 2015, p.  33). In 2005, a Combination Authority was constituted to prepare a Local Development Plan for the Corridor and tasked ‘with hosting community sensitization and planning workshops to enhance the planning and management capacities of the communities involved’ (UN-HABITAT, 2015, p. 33). Research by Chirozva et al. (2017) gathered the views of villagers affected by the STWC. This showed how community agency operated through ‘open and visible confrontations with district planning officials where villagers resisted the spatial extent of the Corridor’ (Chirozva et al., 2017, pp. 11–12). Although this ‘did not completely stall the delineation process, it nevertheless resulted in significant changes to the spatial extent of the Corridor and institutional arrangements for its Governance’ and ‘the emergence of the Combined Management Authority provided an important avenue through which questions of place and resource use and governance were discussed. The implementation of the Corridor itself opened a discursive space through which communities could reinterpret the TFCA’s discourses and rework them to their advantage’ (Chirozva et al., 2017, p. 12). ‘The successful adoption of the STWC has made GLTP the largest trans-frontier park in the world and has succeeded in re-establishing endangered wildlife populations by opening up historic migration routes’ UN-HABITAT (2015, p.  33). As well as conservation benefits, including reduced poaching of wildlife, there have been other advantages such as financial contributions from development agencies and support for eco-tourism with associated local employment opportunities. Finally, UN-HABITAT (2015, p. 33) reports how the success of a community-based planning model has led community groups to acknowledge the economic and environmental benefits of the plan and commit to its implementation (UN-HABITAT, 2015, p. 33). The case of the STWC is a reminder that as well as requiring institution building, cross-border initiatives also affect citizens and that their views need to be considered if they are to be successful.

Transnational Regionalism and Planning As noted earlier natural or economic regions frequently transcend nation state boundaries, creating a common interest to co-operate across borders to address shared agendas through co-operative action. For example, a transnational river catchment where upstream activities might exacerbate flooding and pollution downstream, a shared sea basin where individual state actions may have adverse consequences on the economic, social, and environmental wellbeing of others, or ‘major

Transnational Regionalism and Planning


river systems’ where ‘a transnational territory is likely to be the most appropriate unit to plan for disaster risk reduction’ (UNHSP, 2018, p. 28). Cross-border planning and strategies which address such issues have been considered in the previous section. This section considers transnationalism in planning from the wider interregional and global perspective—that is, within and between ‘global regions’ including at what Stiftel (Stiftel, 2021, p. 430) terms the ‘multi-national regional’ scale. There is inevitably some overlap between these different forms of transnational planning and different contexts play a role. A ‘cross-border’ initiative in North America which may cover only two regions in two nation states may, for example, cover a physical area that would, in Europe, make it a multi-region and multi-state initiative. Thus, in regard to the Cascadia Innovation Corridor discussed previously, Cappellano et al. (2021, p. 14) note that this ‘engages actors (+300 km distant from each other) in a regional scale which in Europe is covered only by the EU Macro-Regions where the Member States take the leading role’. As noted in Chap. 3 the terms ‘supranational’ and ‘transnational’ are not synonyms (even if they seem to be used quite interchangeably in many contexts). In practice most examples of transnational reflection and cooperation around planning are not supranational, but rely on looser, more ad hoc, arrangements often led by local and regional actors, though perhaps framed by intergovernmental agreements at nation state level. There are also examples of transnational development visions which are promoted by specific states, perhaps as a means of supporting economic development through developing markets and promoting international development. Reflecting this diversity of settings and approaches, different examples of transnationalism and planning are considered next.

 Distinctive Case of Supranationalism and Planning: A The European Union The process of European integration began in the 1950s as a way to overcome the fragmentation and repeated cycles of conflict which had beset Europe throughout history. The movement towards European unity had pre-war origins, but following WWII gained a new impetus as leaders of the time, many of whom had lived through both world wars of the early twentieth century, called for action. The Council of Europe was established in 1949, as a body with a focus on human rights, eventually also providing a setting for planning ministers from member states to meet with the creation in 1968 of CEMAT (Conférence du Conseil de l’Europe des ministres responsables de l’aménagement du territoire; the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning). The adoption of the European Spatial Planning Charter at Torremolinos in 1983 was a milestone in this process of cooperation. Separately, the origins of the present European Union (EU) were to be found in the Schuman Plan of 1950 which proposed a European Coal and Steel Community. In presenting this the word ‘plan’ featured prominently as Schuman noted that ‘Europe will not be made all at once, or according


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity’. The Treaty of Rome followed, in 1957, creating the European Economic Community (EEC). As the process of European integration developed there was a move towards frictionless borders, with goods, people, services, and capital being able to flow freely within the EEC area. This created the ‘de facto’ solidarity mentioned by Schuman, and in time, new areas of cooperation were added to facilitate the smooth operation of the single market such as transport, environment, and, eventually, a European regional policy, in the 1970s, following the accession of the UK, Ireland, and Denmark to the EEC (Sykes & SchulzeBäing, 2017). The signing of the Treaty on European Union in Maastricht in the Netherlands in 1992  consolidated  existing arrangements, added new areas of cooperation, and led to the official creation of the EU on 1 November 1993. As a supranational organisation, the EU has the competence to propose policy for those areas of activity for which it has a competence assigned to it according to the treaties which are agreed and endorsed by the member states. Thus, the principal idea is that in some areas of activity, there are advantages of working together collaboratively, rather than working on an individual state basis. This is particularly relevant when it comes to negotiating global international agreements when a collective endeavour of twenty-seven member states representing 447 million people, with a broadly common agenda, is more powerful and persuasive than individual states working independently. The member states still exercise a great deal of independence over their national affairs and action taken at the EU level is based around the ideas of consensus and two key principles: subsidiarity and proportionality. Subsidiarity embeds the idea that action at the EU level, or scale, should only be proposed if, and when, those tasks cannot be performed better and more appropriately at a lower scale of regulation and governance. Proportionality refers to the idea that an action taken at the EU level should not impose any disproportionate obligations on nation states, local government, the private sector, or citizens, as regards the means adopted to deliver what the action is intended to achieve. Finally, all key legislation is adopted through the mechanisms of the EU and after drafting by the European Commission is subject to a double democratic process of scrutiny and adoption by the Council of Ministers (which is made up of sectoral ministers from the member states) and the directly elected members of the European Parliament. In discussing the EU context for planning it is useful to be aware of three different facets of ‘Europeanisation’—uploading, downloading, and cross-loading. The first is the process by which certain member states, or groups of like-minded states, seek to get certain policy objectives or approaches adopted at the EU level. For example, they may wish to see more attention and action on a particular issue (e.g. air quality) and seek to use the EU level to promote this. They may also be aiming to ensure that any subsequent collective action taken at EU level reflects their domestic approaches reducing the need to adapt to new EU legislation. EU member states then respond to EU legislation and policy by transposing, or ‘downloading’, its requirements into national legislation and policy. Clearly the

Transnational Regionalism and Planning


more the requirements differ from those pursued under existing arrangements, the greater the need for adjustment and potential costs and other impacts. These could arise, for example, in the form of legislative time needed to develop new law and policy, or sometimes as a need to make actual physical investments— e.g. new directives on water quality, or waste management, could generate the need for new infrastructure as well as revised administrative procedures. Finally, cross-loading is the process by which member states, and regions and cities, may learn from one another, sharing best practices and experiences—sometimes enabled by funding from EU programmes promoting territorial cooperation (see Box 7.1 above). Europeanisation has relevance for planning, as EU legislation, policy, and programmes form part of the context in which planning operates. Evolutions such as the expansion of the initial regional policy into EU Cohesion Policy after 1988, the completion of the Single Market by 1992, developing EU environmental policy, and the adoption of a more comprehensive transport policy meant that by the 1990s this influence on planning was being increasingly acknowledged. Work by planning ministers, notably through CEMAT under the auspices of the Council of Europe, had also helped shape this awareness. Dalhammer et al. (2018, pp. 2–3) note that: Even if the EU has no explicit competence in spatial planning, it is by no means without influence in regard to spatial planning and development. A major influence on spatial planning in the Member States by the EU is driven by existing sectoral competencies and activities that influence spatial planning instruments and spatial developments indirectly. Additionally, informal influence through dialogue on an intergovernmental basis can exert influence on planning within Member States even without binding agreements.

Though, they also  stress that ‘most instruments available to actors on a supranational level are rather weak in regard to exercising territorial policies’ (Dalhammer et  al., 2018, p.  3). Reflecting this European setting for planning, Böhme (2002) identifies a planning in Europe and planning for Europe dimension of ‘European spatial planning’ where: • Planning in Europe—describes the variety of planning approaches and traditions which exist in European countries. • Planning for Europe—relates to  an emerging policy field being developed by European countries and the institutions of the EU in response to the growing effects of the processes of European integration on the spatial development of Europe’s diverse spaces and places. The EU activities that have an impact on spatial planning are many and varied (see Table  7.1). For example, planning procedures have been affected by EU Directives on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)  and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which require that projects likely to have significant environmental effects, and certain plans and strategies, are subject to a


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

process of environmental appraisal. European environmental protection legislation, such as the Birds and Habitat Directives, requires some sites, both on land and in the sea, to be designated as Natura 2000 sites. These key habitats are protected by European law which means that no development should take place on or near these sites which might damage their integrity. Exceptions are rare and for a development to proceed it needs to be of overriding national interest, such as for reasons of national security, typically for military purposes, or because it will safeguard human health. EU environmental policy can thus drive action in member states and planning may be used as one of policy systems through which to meet its  requirements. The EU also promotes compliance with the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters  (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), 1998). As well as legislation there are a range of EU financial incentives which have spatial impacts. For example, the EU aims to address uneven development and its Cohesion Fund focusses on improving critical infrastructure (transport, communication, water supply waste and sewerage disposal energy supply systems etc.) in Member States whose gross national income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) focusses on improving regional competitiveness by focusing on the indigenous strengths and characteristics of regions, through ‘smart specialisation’. Projects should have a focus on innovation and research, the digital agenda, support for small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), and the low-carbon economy. Meanwhile the European Social Fund (ESF) is available for the upskilling of local workforces to improve employability and access to the labour market. Other initiatives, notably those which aim to promote spatial planning as a means to coordinate and integrate a range of sectoral issues with differential impacts in different places and urban policy, have been promoted through intergovernmental working and consensus building. The European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) (see Box 7.2) of 1999 is arguably the most significant of these. Subsequent initiatives have continued intergovernmental cooperation through informal structures in matters relating to spatial development, urban policy, and territorial issues. This has resulted in documents such as the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities (2007),  the Territorial Agenda of the European Union (2007), the Toledo Declaration on urban policy (2010), the updated Territorial Agenda 2020 (2011), the Pact of Amsterdam establishing the Urban Agenda for the EU (2016), the Territorial Agenda 2030 (2020), and The New Leipzig Charter (2020). The EU activities that have an impact on spatial planning are therefore many and varied and their influence can be hard (e.g. regulatory requirements) or more persuasive in providing resources, themes, ideas, or policy ‘hooks’ that can be used as a supportive framework often for regional and local action (Table 7.1).


Transnational Regionalism and Planning

Table 7.1  Examples of EU competences and activities with significant impact on spatial planning (adapted from Dalhammer et al., 2018, p. 3) Harder/Formal - more binding

Legislation Environment – SEA Directive – EIA Directive – Birds Directive – Habitat Directive – Water Framework Directive – Floods Directive – Environmental Noise Directive – SEVESO III Directive – Waste Framework Directive – Landfill Directive Energy – Renewable Energy Directive – Energy Efficiency Directive – Regulation on Guidelines for Trans-European energy Infrastructure Competition – Directive on public procurement and Directive on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors Maritime – Marine Spatial Planning Directive – Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Softer/informal - non-binding

Incentives Cohesion Policy – ESI Funds (ERDF, ESF) – Community Led Local Development (CLLD) – Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI) Rural development policy – European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD) – Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale (LEADER) Transport policy – TEN Networks e.g. Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) – Symbolic incentives— labelisation (European Capitals of Culture and European Green Capitals) a

Agendas and discourse setting – Reports on Urban Europe, Urban Audit, State of cities report – EU Cohesion reports – European Environment— state and outlook – Country Specific Recommendations (CSR)

Intergovernmental spatial planning and urban policies – European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) (1999) – Territorial Agenda of the EU (TAEU) (2007) – Territorial Agenda of the EU 2020 (TA2020) (2011) – Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities (2007) – Urban Agenda for the EU (UAEU) – Pact of Amsterdam (2016)  – The New Leipzig Charter (2020) – Territorial Agenda of the EU 2030 (2020)

EU financial support is often conditional on meeting certain criteria in projects e.g. around sustainability, or social equality objectives. There is therefore an element of conformity involved (as well as on financial reporting, etc.). a


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

Box 7.2  Informal Cooperation on Spatial Planning and Territorial Development in the EU: From the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) to the Territorial Agenda of the EU 2030

The European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) (CEC, 1999) was a non-binding framework agreed in 1999 in Potsdam, Germany. The goal was to guide spatially significant policymaking across the European Union (EU) in order to promote a balanced and sustainable spatial development strategy. The ESDP identified three  key  development goals; Economic and Social cohesion; Conservation and management of natural resources and cultural heritage; and More balanced competitiveness of the European territory. The ESDP mirrored a number of prevailing aims and principles from both nationaland European-level planning discourses of the 1990s. The document promoted a number of specific policy aims to achieve the ESDP goals, such as the recognition of the need for a new urban-rural relationship through the development of polycentric regions, infrastructure integration across Europe, and consideration of water management in spatial planning policies. The three main ESDP policy guidelines for the spatial orientation of policies were: 1. Development of a balanced and polycentric urban system and a new urbanrural relationship 2. Securing parity of access to infrastructure and knowledge 3. Sustainable development, prudent management, and the protection of natural and cultural heritage The ESDP also promoted cooperation between all administration levels in the EU (vertical integration) and between different sectors (horizontal integration) that have spatial impacts. Its goals were to be pursued through voluntary cooperation that respected the variable spatial competencies of different levels of government within the EU as well as through a reorientation of member state national policies and EU sectoral policies. The document stated that member states should ‘now take into account the policy aims and options of the ESDP in their national spatial planning systems in the way they see fit and inform the public of their experiences gained from European co-operation in spatial development’ (CEC, 1999, p. 44) and ‘take into consideration the European dimension of spatial development in adjusting national spatial development policies, plans and reports’ (CEC, 1999, p.  45). While the spatial planning approach was common to that already existing in some European countries, other countries drew on the ESDP to expand their conceptualisation of planning. In the UK, the newly devolved nations referred to the ESDP as they developed their spatial planning approaches and governance spaces. Scotland’s National Planning Framework and the Wales Spatial Plan identified national transport corridors linked to the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). Regional plans in parts of England also referred to polycentric development. (continued)

Transnational Regionalism and Planning


Box 7.2  (continued)

Ultimately the ESDP played a role in the diffusion of spatial planning concepts throughout Europe despite its non-binding nature, though its influence was varied in different places (ESPON, 2007). Successor documents such as the first two Territorial Agendas of the European Union (TAEU) adopted in 2007 and 2011 have arguably not achieved the same profile, or degree of (informal) influence, as the ESDP. A revised document entitled Territorial Agenda 2030 A Future for All Places was adopted in 2020 setting out two overarching objectives—a Just Europe and a Green Europe—and six priorities for developing the European territory as a whole and all its places. Sources:; sites/default/files/attachments/fr-2.3.1-full_rev_Jan2007.pdf

The EU has also promoted marine spatial planning with the goal that by 2020, all European countries with a maritime boundary should have a marine spatial plan in place. This reflects ‘one-space’ thinking regarding land and sea interactions and a growing interest in marine space as a new context for planning. In 2011, Maria Damanaki, the then EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, acknowledged these developments stating that ‘Governments are waking up to the fact that we have just about reached the limit of what can be squeezed from the 29% of the planet that is land. Therefore, it becomes clear that we need to look even more to the sea’. Traditional, mature maritime industries, such as fishing, shipping, and offshore oil and gas production, are now frequently accompanied by a range of other offshore uses such as aquaculture and offshore energy production and combined with new business possibilities in sectors such as blue biotechnology and expansion of marine mineral extraction. These activities are increasingly competing for the rights to use sea space. Whilst these reflect developmental opportunities, there is a growing understanding that most services derived from marine and coastal ecosystems are being degraded, are used unsustainably, and are deteriorating faster than other ecosystems. Trying to reconcile these competing interests has led to a new and emerging field for planning, notably the idea of marine spatial planning (MSP) (see Box 7.3). Consequently, MSP has emerged as a new tool, defined by UNESCO as ‘a public process of analysing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives that are usually specified through a political process’ (Ehler & Douvere, 2009, p. 18). Land and sea interactions (LSI) are inevitably interlinked and whilst planning for the land (terrestrial planning) and sea (marine or maritime planning) have been seen as two separate regimes, there is a growing realisation they should be considered as addressing one territorial space and that territorial planning should consider these spaces as an integrated whole. Despite this, a recent project which revisited the EU Compendium of Spatial Planning Systems and Policies (CEC, 1997) and explored changes in territorial governance and spatial planning, over the past 15 years, only made very passing reference to the marine environment (Nadin et  al., 2018).


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

Box 7.3  Marine Spatial Planning and Transnational Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region

The Baltic Sea is a largely enclosed sea bounded by ten different countries who have a shared interest in its collective planning. Through two transnational collaborations—VASAB (Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea) (which has been traditionally land based) and HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission)—these states are increasingly working together to produce a common vision and policies for the area. There are three overarching objectives, and a number of sub-measures for this macro region and maritime agendas hold a key place within the overall strategy. These are not just confined under the Save the Sea objective, where action to reduce problems of eutrophication of the sea and pollution associated with shipping is complemented by increased protection of marine species and habitats. They are also prominent within the Connect the Region objective. This considers improvements of key logistics routes spanning land and sea, and increased energy security for the region through offshore windfarm development.

Transnational Regionalism and Planning


This  is  perhaps surprising when in response to the EU  Marine Spatial Planning Directive, requiring member states to have marine plans in place by 2021, several countries have developed a spatial planning system that is covered by a single piece of integrated legislation combining both land and sea and governed by a single institution (Kidd & Shaw, 2021). In this context territorial planning, or ‘one space’ planning, is reconceptualising spatial planning as covering both a terrestrial and a marine remit (see Fig. 7.2). Addressing these issues also often requires a transnational dimension in the context of maritime borders and sea basins. The sea space, which can extend to a maximum 200 miles out from the shoreline (this is termed the Exclusive Economic Zone), means that in practice, significantly more of a nation’s territory may be in the sea, rather than on the land. For example, in the case of the following states, France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and the UK significantly more than 50% of national territory is in the sea. Marine planning is a new planning domain, whose boundaries cannot be easily demarcated on a map, and certainly flows across and through these boundaries are very fluid. Increasingly land and sea interactions and this fluidity mean that these spaces need to be conceived not just as a single territorial space, but with regard to cross-border and transnational collaborations.

Fig. 7.2  Reconceptualising territorial planning to incorporate land sea interactions (LSI) (Kidd et al. (2020, p. 3)


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

Developing an Urban Agenda in the ASEAN Region Whilst the EU is probably the most developed regional integration organisation, in different parts of the globe other regional  initiatives featuring varying degrees of integration have emerged. In the 1990s, following the end of the Cold War and resultant geopolitical changes, a number of regional organisations emerged in East and South East Asia, South Asia, Latin America, North America, and the Pacific (Wong, 2015). More recently progress and confidence in the capacity of such arrangements has been less pronounced, but movement has not stalled definitively (Yarashevich, 2021). The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on 8 August 1967. Its member states are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and its Secretariat is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Some have argued ‘that ASEAN will become, in a similar way to the EU, both institutionally deeper and regionally more inclusive’ (Close & Ohki-Close, 1999, p. x). Others suggest ‘ASEAN was built on a foundation of loose institutions and developed a culture in regional relations that is not based on hard and enforceable commitments’ and ‘Given that it has shown its dislike to supranational and judicial bodies, ASEAN has to work within the narrow confines of its legal and institutional framework’ (Deinla, 2017, p. 73). This needs to be borne in mind regarding the bloc’s response to major trends and issues of urbanisation and development (Box 7.4).

Box 7.4  Urbanisation Trends in the ASEAN Area (ASEAN, 2018, pp. 3–4)

1. Urbanisation is rising (particularly in middleweight cities). Today, half of all people in ASEAN are already living in urban areas and an additional 70 million more people are forecast to live in cities by 2025. Yet, this growth is increasingly happening in middleweight regions, with a population between 500,000 and five million. Underpinning this growth of urban areas are three main factors: strategically located cities benefitting from the increase of cross-border trade and logistics; the formation of economic clusters (often also referred to as economic zones); and the growing importance and development of satellite regions to ASEAN’s mega-cities. 2. Cities are becoming increasingly independent. Many ASEAN Member States (AMS) are increasingly shifting the responsibility of public services to local city governments, granting them increased autonomy. 3. Digital technologies are transforming cities and governments are increasingly turning to technology to manage and monitor their cities. Several technological innovations have been widely adopted by ASEAN cities. Disruptive technologies have the potential to generate between US$220 billion and US$625 billion in annual economic impact in ASEAN by 2030 but are also estimated to potentially displace 12–17 million non-farm jobs in ASEAN from 2015 to 2030. (continued)

Transnational Regionalism and Planning


Box 7.4  (continued)

4. Economic growth is neither inclusive nor equally distributed. In many Asian cities, including in Southeast Asia, income inequality has risen and is often higher than in rural areas. The prevalence of urban poverty and inequality has several implications for cities in ASEAN including the spread of slums and informal settlements, increase in informal employment, a lack of financial inclusion, and spreading gender inequality. 5. Urban sprawl is creating concerns for congestion, economic efficiency, and cultural heritage. Rapid urbanisation in ASEAN has led to a large share of urban growth involving unplanned, unstructured expansion, with high rates of car use which has resulted in chronic traffic congestion, costing about 2–5% of GDP per year. 6. The resource footprint of cities is expanding. While ASEAN’s urban population has grown by around 3% annually, the rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have increased by 6.1% annually. By 2025, the amount of waste volume in ASEAN will increase by 150% from 1995 levels. Many ASEAN cities are also among the world’s cities most exposed to natural disasters and environmental concerns, particularly from rising sea levels as a result of climate change. 7. Increasing emphasis is placed on maintaining rule of law, including in relation to new threats such as cyber-security. Cities in ASEAN are stepping up anti-crime efforts by increasing the number of police officers, and cooperation on trans-national crime and terrorism. There have also been several instances of cyber-attacks in various ASEAN member states. 8. Non-communicable diseases are becoming more prevalent amongst urban populations. Southeast Asia had the highest urban ambient air pollution levels worldwide in 2016, with annual mean levels often exceeding 5–10 times World Health Organization (WHO) limits which have been linked to illnesses such as cancer, asthma, and bronchitis. Cities in ASEAN also suffer from a rising proportion of adults with obesity and elevated stress levels. Informed by this context of rapid urbanisation, which is seen as a ‘crucial driver of economic growth’, an ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy (ASUS) has been developed which seeks to address issues such as the need ‘to provide adequate and sustainable urban infrastructure to meet the increasing pace of urbanisation’ (ASEAN, 2018, p. v). Reflecting cooperation in the wider Asia–Pacific region the development of ASUS was supported by the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program. The strategy recognises that whilst urbanisation may bring development it also poses challenges related to ‘inclusiveness (particularly housing), environmental pollution, economic efficiency (linked to rising traffic congestion), health and cultural heritage’ and issues as well as opportunities for women and girls (ASEAN, 2018, p. v). The ASUS also notes that ‘These challenges can be amplified by rapid and haphazard urbanisation, which has occurred in many ASEAN countries’ and ‘must be addressed in order to achieve sustainable urbanisation’ (ASEAN, 2018, p. v).


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

Attention to these issues is seen as important because cities are seen to play a ‘critical role’ in the wider development, connectivity, production, and distribution networks within the ASEAN Economic Community. There is also a recognition that ASEAN cities ‘have evolved differently and at very different paces’ which is seen as ‘an opportunity for ASEAN cities to leverage each other’s comparative advantages and experiences to overcome the challenges of urbanisation’. There is thus an ambition to foster cross-national mutual learning between cities in the region, notably to draw on certain existing ASEAN city networks (ASEAN, 2018, p. vi). The ASUS contains 99 references to planning, referring to the lack of planning capacity and prevalence of unplanned and unstructured development in some contexts with impacts like ‘high rates of car use’, ‘low density, segregated land use and insufficient infrastructure, i.e. urban sprawl’ (ASEAN, 2018, p.  22), and to the role of planning as an enabler of sustainable urbanisation. As regards strategic planning it is noted that ‘Many cities lack a clear and robust long-term strategy to support the implementation of their sustainable urbanisation actions, or in fact lack the planning capacity to come up with viable proposals’ (ASEAN, 2018, p. 41). The ASUS puts forward a framework of sustainable urbanisation based on six areas and eighteen sub-areas which is closely aligned with the ASEAN Smart Cities (ASC) framework, developed as part of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) (see Fig. 7.3). A ‘stocktake’ of existing actions ‘supporting urbanisation’ across ASEAN ‘revealed that only 9 percent of actions are being implemented at an ASEAN and 10 percent at the Global/Asia level, implying a potentially large opportunity for more work to be done at the ASEAN level’ (ASEAN, 2018, p. 4). There is thus scope for The strategy employs a framework of sustainable urbanization centred around 6 areas and 18 sub-areas

1. Social cohesion 2. Inclusive & equitable growth 3. Culture & heritage 4. Tourism

5. Housing & home 6. Healthcare 7. Other public services

Quality environment

Civic & social

Sustainable urbanization strategic outcomes Health & well-being

8. Personal safety & security 9. Cyber-security

High quality of life • Competitive economy • Sustainable environment

Built infrastructure

Industry & innovation


10. Water, waste & sanitation 11. Energy 12. Food

13. Mobility 14. Building & construction 15. Urban resilience

16. Entrepreneurship & innovation 17. Trade & commerce 18. Education


• • • •

Integrated Master planning and development Dynamic urban governance Digital infrastructure and applications Partnership and funding

Fig. 7.3  ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy (ASUS)—a framework of sustainable urbanisation centred around 6 areas and 18 sub-areas with planning as an enabler (ASEAN, 2018). Source: ASEAN (2018, p. 9)

Other Transnational Settings for Planning


greater attention to be given to sustainable urbanisation at the ASEAN/‘supranational’ level. However, it is noted ‘that the ASUS is not an implementing body in itself, but rather focuses on providing high quality content (through this report and accompanying toolkits) for cities to utilise’ (ASEAN, 2018, p. 63). Despite the very different degrees of supranationalism of the EU and ASEAN overall, promoting an ‘urban agenda’ seems therefore in both cases to involve promoting best practice principles through ‘soft’ forms of action.

Other Transnational Settings for Planning China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative Not all transnational initiatives which may set a context for and impact on planning are derived from multilateral initiatives whether intergovernmental or supranational. A notable example of a transnational development vision originating from one state is China’s inter-regional and inter-continental ‘One Belt, One Road’ (or ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative—BRI) initiative, which since 2015 has been reconceptualising links across the world (Aoyama, 2016). This draws on a spatial imaginary of the traditional trade links that existed between China, much of Asia and Europe through what became known in Europe as ‘the Silk Road’ (Fig. 7.4). Whilst such spatial imaginaries may not of themselves create direct material effects on the ground, the mindsets they help form can influence decisions which ultimately have spatial effects in various places—for example, decisions to invest in certain infrastructure projects. The BRI seeks to re-establish spaces for co-operation based on reconnecting, or better connecting, places, largely through improving infrastructure connections. It

Fig. 7.4  ‘One Belt, One Road’ corridors and nodes. Source: Suzanne Yee, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

is a long-term vision for the next 35 years and envisages developing three overland routes and one maritime route. Over 60 separate nation states have become associated with the initiative, and a newly established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has been created, intended to support infrastructure investment in the AsiaPacific area. For Liu and Dunford (2016, p.  328) the rationale for the BRI is grounded in China’s own experience that ‘shows that trade and industrial growth require massive, possibly state-led investments in infrastructure - roads, ports, airports, railways, electricity, gas and water – that facilitate industrial development and the development of related industrial capacity construction materials, steel and so on’. They add that ‘China’s goal in this context is to develop cooperative relationships to develop industrial capacity, consumer and producer demand in countries outside of China, to make other developing countries richer encouraging demand for Chinese goods and services, to acquire advanced technologies and management methods from more advanced countries, and to secure energy and raw materials’ (pp. 328–329), by China seeking to establish its own regime of trade and FDI promotion. Liu and Dunford (2016, p. 335) argue that this is distinguishable from ‘neoliberal regimes of globalization characterized by laissez-faire policies, uneven development and inequality’ and that instead, the BRI ‘incorporates as goals joint efforts, inclusiveness, win–win and even development’. The BRI may articulate a ‘spatial imaginary’ of an interregional space which stretches from China across Asia towards Europe and Africa. However, it is not so much a planning strategy as a more fluid spatial vision which projects investment opportunities across geographical space—‘a multi-scalar notion, ranging from global and continental cooperation networks to transport corridors, major cities and even industrial parks’ (Liu & Dunford, 2016, p. 336). The various representations of the BRI are not necessarily definitive indications of the locations of corridors and nodes and there is some ambiguity about boundaries and which countries are included. There is, however, spatial selectivity and the BRI does prioritise ‘connections between China and countries along the ancient Silk Roads’ (Liu & Dunford, 2016, p. 336), notably proposing six major land transport corridors: 1 . New Eurasian Land Bridge 2. China–Mongolia–Russia Corridor 3. China–Central Asia–West Asia Corridor 4. China–Indochina Peninsula Corridor 5. China–Pakistan Corridor 6. Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Corridor Liu & Dunford (2016, p. 337) argue, however, that ‘Although the BRI seems to refer to transport and communications corridors, it is fundamentally not several corridors but an open spatial system with a network configuration’. Inevitably such an ambitious initiative also attracts critical commentary. Some argue it simply gives disparate Chinese projects overseas the veneer of being part of a ‘grand strategic plan’ (Kuo & Kommenda, 2018), reflects China flexing its economic muscles as part of an agenda to develop as a hegemonic global power, or at least seeking new markets to help absorb over-capacity in its home market, thereby avoiding, or

Other Transnational Settings for Planning


mitigating, the potential for a domestic economic crisis. Others have noted that Chinese firms have dominated BRI construction projects ‘at the expense of local contractors in partner countries’ which is often ‘at odds with the official rhetoric that Belt and Road is open to global participation’. Some have suggested that BRI loans could increase the level of debt distress and dependency in certain countries (Kuo & Kommenda, 2018). Overall, Aoyama (2016, p. 22) argues that a key question, as the initiative develops, will be whether China is ‘able to convince the world that it is not a threat but rather an opportunity’. The initiative’s ambitions might also flounder if China pursues geopolitical choices and alliances that erode its economic and ‘soft power’ potential. However, setting aside such wider geopolitical questions and the ambiguous spatiality of the BRI, for planners its key interest lies in how the economic links and infrastructure investments it is driving, have spatial impacts ‘on the ground’ in different places. These may, for example, take the form of new physical projects like railways, ports, and roads and the generation of economic activity and associated development demand, with impacts for land use and environmental management. The investments and infrastructure associated with BRI may, for example, modify the relational geographical position of places, creating a variety of spatial development opportunities and challenges. For example, the German city of Duisburg is fast becoming Europe’s central logistics hub as around 80% of trains from China now make it their first European stop. This ‘former rust-belt town’ has rediscovered a new centrality thanks to its location and harbour on the Rhine and these rail links. Duisburg is now billed as ‘Germany’s China city’ by some local politicians (Pomfret, 2021). Meanwhile, in Sir Lanka the ‘Port City’ project, in the capital Colombo, is being built on land reclaimed from the Indian Ocean, with a $1.4bn investment from the state-owned Chinese engineering firm China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), according to a master plan developed by US planning consultancy. Such a large project generates opportunities, but inevitably raises planning questions on issues such as environmental impacts and the relationship with the existing city (Safi, 2018).

Transnational Development Corridors and Gateways The BRI and other initiatives seek to promote transnational corridors often connected to gateways such as sea ports. Corridors and gateways have been explored for many years in planning and related disciplines such as geography, economics, management, and transport planning (Boelens, 2014; Debrie & Comtois, 2010; Hall et al., 2011; Van Klink & Van Den Berg, 1998; Priemus & Zonneveld, 2003) and by institutions like the EU, NAFTA, and the OECD. Policies to promote corridor development are found within, and increasingly between, many countries (Srivastava, 2011; Scholvin, 2021) and diverse actors promote new corridors and associated territorial imaginaries under initiatives such as the BRI, or the Canada–US Cascadia corridor discussed earlier. The contrast between the latter two examples illustrates well Scholvin’s point that ‘Corridors vary considerably in terms of their geographical range’ (2021, p. 443), with some existing in national space, and others being transnational, or even global in scale and ambition. And whilst some transnational corridors and their associated nodes and gateways have emerged naturally as part of an extant, or emergent, ‘geo-economic’


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

reality, in some parts of the globe, they are also explicitly deployed as tools to ‘frame’ planning and development and mobilise actors and groups behind certain territorial policy goals (Salet, 2008; Dembski & Salet, 2010). Transnational corridors are thus a phenomenon that is increasingly encountered when conducting international planning studies. Many different kinds of corridor exist in practice with a variety of impacts on places and their planning, including, but not limited to, urban development, innovation, transport, trade, conservation, and international cooperation corridors. Srivastava (2011, pp. 2–3) argues that ‘The use of the term “regional” in urban planning is of course quite different from its meaning in regional cooperation due to the former being in a national context while the latter applies across sovereign states’ and that as a result ‘The direct relevance of regional corridors in urban planning is thus diluted when the context is regional cooperation across countries and cross-border regional corridors’. These may be important distinctions to note, but transnational corridors do nevertheless generate impacts for the planning and development of places. In practice, initiatives to develop corridors are often anchored around plans for new infrastructure to develop transport corridors and maritime and logistics activities, with a  goal of linking the territories and regional economies concerned to global value chains (GVCs) (Scholvin, 2021, p. 444). Dzumbira et al. (2017, p. 647) state that ‘Corridors are a spatially organising tool that can be used to promote development in a region using bundles of infrastructure to support logistics coordination, trade facilitation, economic development and social development spillovers’. These linear ‘bundles of infrastructure’ aim to facilitate mobility and a concentration of flows along a given axis connected to an intermodal entry point, or gateway (Priemus & Zonneveld, 2003; Chapman et al., 2003). Many assumptions about the impacts of corridor development draw on the work of Perroux (1955) and others around growth poles. Scholvin (2021, p. 443) observes that ideas behind corridors have not changed since the 1960s and 1970s and that ‘Just as in the past, corridors today integrate extended rural areas with a network of urban nodes geared towards specific value-addition activities, which are to spread along the entire corridor, thus developing once far-flung places’. The corridor concept thus comprises two key spatial elements in the form of nodes at each end and/or along a corridor which play the role of growth poles, while ‘the bundle of infrastructure connecting them forms the spine of the corridor’ (Dzumbira et al., 2017, p. 638). The assumption is that ‘the intensity of corridor development tapers off as the distance away from the spine increases and likewise that the intensity of corridor development tapers off at increasing distance from the nodes’ (Dzumbira et al., 2017, p. 637). Corridor development has also been seen as having a temporal dimension and as passing through different stages. Thus Srivastava (2011, p. 1) notes five commonly posited stages of corridor development: Stage 1: Transport Corridor; Stage 2: Transport and Trade Facilitation Corridor; Stage 3: Logistics Corridor; Stage 4: Urban Development Corridor; and Stage 5: Economic Corridor. Dzumbira et  al. (2017, pp. 638–639) argue that each stage ‘is a type of corridor with its own distinctive features’ and note that ‘apart from stimulating economic growth, transportation corridors also structure space at three scales; global, regional and local’. It is this role in structuring space that can generate impacts on places and planning. Though

Other Transnational Settings for Planning


‘The effectiveness of the corridor concept in town and regional planning is a point of contention’ (Dzumbira et al., 2017, p. 640), given arguments that corridors can reinforce centripetal core-periphery dynamics and lead to de-concentration of development. The great variety in the scale and geographic extent of corridors and related characteristics such as the distance and relationships between their nodes will shape how far such issues arise. Any impacts of corridor development on planning, land use, and the pursuit of economic, social, and environmental goals will also vary depending on such contextual features. Gateways are an interface between global, national, regional, and local scales, and given the importance of maritime transport to global trade (ITF, 2019), the port–gateway interface is especially significant (Hall et al., 2011). Corridors connect gateways with their hinterland (Van Klink & Van Den Berg, 1998; Rodrigue, 2004) and may connect gateways and nodes situated in different nation states. As noted earlier, corridors are strongly shaped by concentrations of infrastructure (Notteboom & Rodrigue, 2005). Their geography can consequently be affected by the concentration of infrastructure and flows along axes of integration between marine and terrestrial channels within a wider continental setting (Hall et  al., 2011; Rodrigue & Notteboom, 2011). Their governance involves complex relationships between actors such as public infrastructure managers and private transport and logistics operators, which raises technical, legal, regulatory, and funding issues that require coordination between the private sector (e.g. transport operators) and the public sector (national, regional, and local governments, and infrastructure planners) (Priemus & Zonneveld, 2003). Corridors may often be seen as being primarily about infrastructure investment to improve transport corridors, but they are also often conceived and promoted as a way of achieving broader objectives of regional economic development and environmental protection, implying, one might think, an important role for planning in managing their land use and wider territorial impacts. Viewed from a ‘planning perspective’ corridors are thus territories, not simply ‘spaces of flows’, or ‘bundles’ of infrastructure, and their development can have direct effects on places at different scales. For example, at a local/metropolitan scale  the movement of port facilities away from the centre of cities in connection with capacity increases, and connections to new terrestrial transport links, can release large areas for redevelopment as new urban districts. The territorial effects often transcend established national, regional and local administrative boundaries, leading actors to explore new scales of governance including the city regional, inter-metropolitan, cross-border, and macroregional (often in Europe with EU support). Given this and the commitment of public policy and resources to corridor development in some places, there is also debate about their wider impacts. Scholvin (2021) thus highlights some of the mixed outcomes of development corridors, asking whether the expectation that they will generate regional development by ‘getting the territory right’ is always fulfilled in practice, or if, conversely, the pursuit of corridor development can sometimes generate negative impacts from ‘getting the territory wrong’. He then explores the ‘dark side of development corridors’, pointing to four types of ‘pitfalls’ which can arise: (1) unmet economic goals, (2) disarticulations which create benefits for some stakeholders and disbenefits/losses for others, (3) institutional deficiencies, and (4)


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

environmental and social shortcomings (Scholvin, 2021, p.  443). As regards the capacity to manage corridors and their effects, he notes how some public authorities ‘lack the capacities to consider cumulative effects of numerous ad hoc developments or realize synergies’ and that ‘Poor planning – especially the neglect of environmental and social issues  – has the same root’. He notes too that ‘These shortcomings are particularly pronounced for corridors that pass through several states, as multinational coordination is much more challenging than aligning public authorities within a single country’ (Scholvin, 2021, p. 446). He concludes with an observation which echoes a recurring theme in this book, that context is important: ‘Since the concept of corridor-based development is largely identical everywhere, there must be different contextual factors that lead to the different outcomes’ (Scholvin, 2021, p. 447). Corridor initiatives have thus encountered varying degrees of success, and have generated mixed positive and negative outcomes in different places. There can also be quite different views on the balance of positive and negative impacts generated by specific corridor initiatives (see Box 7.5).

Box 7.5  The Maputo Development Corridor: Mixed Views on the Success of a Corridor Development

The Maputo Development Corridor (MDC) links Gauteng, Witbank/ Middelburg, Nelspruit, in South Africa and Maputo in Mozambique. In South Africa the corridor concept is widely used as a development instrument at the national, regional, and local levels of planning whilst simultaneously aiming to guard against unregulated urban sprawl at the local level and the use of urban development corridors as a planning tool is legislated for. The goal of the transnational MDC is to revive ‘the once vital corridor linking South Africa’s economic heartland with its nearest seaport in Mozambique’ (Dzumbira et al., 2017, p. 640). After a decision, in 1995, to renew the corridor’s road and rail infrastructure, today the MDC is reported to be ‘the largest and most successful development corridor initiative thus far in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region’ and is even presented as ‘an example from which lessons can be drawn for other corridor initiatives within the region’ (Bowland & Otto, 2012, p. 1). The MDC was promoted as a Spatial Development Initiative, and involved infrastructure developments such as improvements to Maputo port and the development of the N4 highway in South Africa, which runs from Pretoria to the Mozambican Border. The main objectives of the corridor have been to: rehabilitate the existing core infrastructure; attract investment to the corridor and the region; make it sustainable through relevant policies and strategies; and maximise the impact of investing in and developing the corridor. For Bowland and Otto ‘The Maputo Corridor’s crowning success lies in the crucial role it has played in the broader, regional initiative of linking the Atlantic and Indian Oceans via the Trans-Kalahari and Capital Corridors’ (2012, p. 2). (continued)

Other Transnational Settings for Planning


Box 7.5  (continued)

Analysis by Dzumbira et al. (2017, p. 645) offers a more cautious assessment of the MDC’s achievements, suggesting that ‘In the final analysis, the theoretical foundations of the MDC appear to be at odds with its stated objectives’ and that ‘the growth and development impulses generated by the communication axis are generally weak’. A reliance on the ‘trickle down effects’ of development has also led to limited benefits to disadvantaged communities. The kinds of jobs created by such corridors often ‘require substantial skills and specialization’ whereas the local labour supply ‘in peripheral parts of the Global South is usually poorly qualified’ (Scholvin, 2021, p. 445), with Mitchell (1998) observing that this is the case for the MDC (cited in Scholvin, 2021). Spatial context and scale also play a role. Dzumbira et  al. note (2017, pp. 645–646) that: Although the corridor has strong regional linkages, particularly between its most prominent end node Pretoria and its second largest node Nelspruit/Mbombela, its function as a global and local corridor is weak. This lowers the growth potential of both the end nodes and other intermediate nodes, along or near, the corridor.

This partly reflects the long distances which separate Maputo from Pretoria and other prominent nodes on the corridor. Dzumbira et  al. (2017, p. 646) point to a need to strengthen the local and global functions of the corridor, by, amongst other things, making sure that local industries and local employment are linked to regional activities, and that internationally, regional infrastructure and institutions are consolidated to strengthen international producer and consumer cooperation and ‘align democratic planning mechanisms’. They also note that ‘the whole corridor area is administered under a single policy strategy’ whereas evidence and previous experience with other programmes suggest an approach more tailored to the unique characteristics of locations along the corridor may better maximise the spill-over benefits of corridor development (Dzumbira et  al., 2017, p.  647). They also feel greater state intervention as well as a reliance on private capital is ‘necessary to develop spatially concentrated development in the punctuated nodes along the length of the corridor’ (pp. 647–648). More effective planning and coordination may also be necessary to address some of the social equity and environmental issues which characterise the initiative. For example, referring to the work of Söderbaum and Taylor (2001), Scholvin (2021, p.  447) comments on ‘the high water consumption by heavy industries along the Maputo Corridor’ which ‘have been established in a region where most people do not have access to clean drinking water (or any output of these industries)’. Therefore, the MDC provides a clear case of the contrasting impacts and perspectives that can arise around development corridors and the challenges that planning and planners may encounter in seeking to manage their territorial effects to deliver goals of balanced sustainable development.


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

Summary This chapter has reviewed how transnational contexts, institutions, and initiatives can be relevant to planning, both in shaping the issues it is called upon to address and how planning responds. The discussions here echo some of the common themes in international planning studies which have emerged in earlier chapters. The discussions of cross-border planning reemphasise the need to always take context into  account in international planning studies and to be cautious about ‘reading off’ too much from certain seemingly obvious characteristics of different places and institutional settings. For example, things which may appear at first glance to be very different may on closer inspection turn out to be more similar than anticipated, whilst conversely things which appear to be similar may turn out to be rather different. This is well illustrated by the fact that, despite their apparently very different institutional and other characteristics, many of the cases of cross-border planning reviewed above reveal similar dynamics around the challenges and potential of planning at and across territorial borders. For example, the geopolitical settings of the North American continent and the EU offer a different context for transnational reflection and cross-border working, with the former being marked by more contingent, intergovernmentally based, and often informal forms of cooperation, and the latter featuring stronger supranational pooling of decision-making and resources. The socio-economic gradient between borders in these two global regions is also very different, with the US-Mexico border, for example, being marked by greater development disparities than intra-EU borders. Yet ‘on the ground’, at the level of planning for cross-border regions, or metropolitan areas, rather similar planning dynamics, opportunities, and challenges can often be observed, both in the ostensibly more fractured north American context, and in the more integrated EU. The examples of multiple forms of transnational planning (cross-border; transnational regional/inter-regional) also show how transnational planning contexts and responses overlap and are ‘nested’ across scales. The emphasis and scale of transnational planning contexts and the initiatives and institutions which may arise to address these vary from place to place. In some places the cross-border context and cooperation may solely be framed by bilateral relations between two states or regions, whilst in others it may also be influenced by, and constitutive of, a wider transnational territorial context, vision, or initiative. The BRI provides a striking contemporary example of the latter and of how planning may be impacted by wider geopolitical contexts and goals at a transnational scale. As in the past when the strategies of colonial powers often provided a wider setting for the diffusion of planning ideas and framed planning practice in different parts of the world (see Chap. 2), today the foreign policy and development goals of emerging world and regional powers can provide a context for spatial development and planning, either in their immediate geographical vicinity (e.g. cross-border regions), or across wider global regional and pan-regional spaces (e.g. as in the case of the BRI). How such initiatives ‘land’ in territories which they overarch, or traverse, is thus a contemporary theme in international planning studies. The cross-border planning, transnational, and supranational planning contexts discussed in this chapter have implications for planning practice and the evolution of planning as an international discipline. For example, spatial strategies



and plans may be called upon to make the most of, or mitigate, the effects of the associated spatial ramifications, transnational dynamics, institution building, and development visions and investment strategies that they generate. Alongside the global urban agendas and planning discourses considered in Chap. 6, cross-border, transnational and supranational planning contexts, can constitute another, more or less formalised, arena of ‘planning above and beyond the state’. As one result, placefocused actors such as planners, businesses, political leaders, and citizens, at a variety of different spatial scales, may find their gaze being drawn beyond their immediate context to contemplate the territorial implications of increased transnational and global relationships and interconnectedness. The attendant opportunities and risks for the development of places may require increased awareness of ostensibly ‘remote’ trends and initiatives. They also show how planning, as in the past, can get drawn into geopolitical processes as certain states seek new markets to absorb domestic productive capacity and invest financial surpluses in foreign development projects. Transnationalism at different scales is heightening attention to the land—sea interface in planning. This is clearly illustrated, for example, by developments in policy in the EU area and by the ‘maritime Silk Road’ and associated port developments promoted under the BRI. Finally, initiatives that provide a transnational context for planning are organised with varying degrees of formality and informality notably as regards the degree of influence which is vested in scales above and beyond the nation state. As Graute et al. (2018, p. 23) comment, ‘for the time being, there is often an absence of planning authorities and competences assigned to levels beyond the national level’. In practice therefore transnational reflection and strategy making in relation to planning can rarely be described as authentically ‘supranational’. This often affects how far institutional responses to transnational planning and contexts create binding, or nonbinding, frameworks and obligations that planning at other scales needs to consider. The following chapter now turns its attention to the planning discipline itself and how planning practice, education, and research are evolving within an international context.

Exercise 7.1  Planning for a Cross-Border Region or Metropolitan Area

Individually, or with colleagues, select a cross-border region or metropolitan area. Imagine that you have been tasked by the territorial authorities on either side of the border with preparing a baseline study on the current dynamics and economic, social, environmental, and cultural conditions of the cross-border territory and suggesting three to five realistic and deliverable future strategic planning objectives for its development over a 15-year time horizon. Some possible issues to consider: 1. What are the cross-border dynamics of the territory? What kind of border is present? Is it a permeable, or more impermeable border? How ‘open’ is the border to movement of people and goods? Is there any process of ‘debordering’ or a ‘rebordering’, or is the situation stable? (continued)


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

Exercise 7.1  (continued)

2. What is the extent of the functional ‘cross-border’ territory as regards different economic, social, environmental, and cultural issues? How far do these domains define a single cross-border territory, or describe different perimeters for different planning objectives? What is the extent of cultural, or linguistic, commonality across the border? How comparable are social and economic conditions and development levels on either side of the border (e.g. are there large disparities in income levels living conditions etc.)? 3. What kind of data is available to capture the issues above? Is data available, and if so, is it comparable? 4. What interests and goals might motivate the partners on each side of the border to engage in cooperation? Are these compatible? Is it possible to identify areas of mutual interest and potential ‘win-win’ scenarios, or are there areas of divergence and possible disagreement? Who are the wider stakeholders of the cross-border planning process? Is there an understanding of the views of the public, business interests, NGOs, and so on? 5. What is the multi-level institutional context for cross-border cooperation? Is there a formal body charged with overseeing the process and possibly with implementing planning goals? How supportive is the  nation state– level policy of cross-border cooperation—do national/federal policies facilitate, or hinder it (e.g. is there any dynamic towards de- or rebordering)? Is there some kind of wider multilateral, or supranational, institutional framework which might help frame cross-border working? 6. What is the realistic prospect of the planning objectives being achieved? What is the institutional capacity for their delivery (i.e. given the setting considered under point 5)? What resources might be available as regards funding, or legal mechanisms, to deliver a cross-border planning agenda? Is cross-border coordination of decisions on locations and physical development at a strategic level possible, or is project-level action to address specific sectoral and technical issues a more realistic prospect? 7. What are the timescales of different policy and political processes on either side of the border—for example, how do electoral cycles and the time horizons of relevant policies and strategies compare?

Exercise 7.2  Thinking Outside the Territorial Box! Considering the Impact of Transnational and Supranational Contexts, Institutions, Visions, Policies and Programmes on Planning

Individually, or as a group, imagine you have been commissioned by a territorial authority (i.e. municipality, or regional authority) to produce an evaluation of the impacts on the planning of its territory of any relevant transnational, or supranational contexts, institutions, visions, policies. As detailed in this chapter, the range and significance of the latter will vary depending on where the territory concerned is situated on the globe.



Exercise 7.2  (continued)

Once you have chosen a territory you should identify how its transnational context might impact on its spatial planning and development over the next five years, and think about how the territorial authority might respond. For example, in Europe this may involve considering the impacts of any European economic, environmental, demographic, and social trends on the selected territory’s spatial planning, environmental, economic, and social development. If the territory is in the EU the impacts of any spatially significant relevant EU legislation, policies, and programmes—for example, around environmental quality, climate change, economic, social, and territorial cohesion, transport, cultural development—should also be considered. Similarly, in the Eurasian region the contexts provided by any relevant transnational cooperation initiatives at regional, or cross-border, scales should be considered. This could include some of the institutions and initiatives outlined in this chapter, such as the work of ASEAN on sustainable urban development, or the spatial vision and investment priorities of the BRI initiative and the corridors it identifies. If the chosen territory is in another global region the relevant transnational context and its potential to impact on planning should similarly be reviewed. The task might be approached by considering the following: 1. The general ‘endogenous’ planning and development characteristics of your chosen territory—what are its own intrinsic significant features in planning terms? 2. The wider transnational context for the territory’s development, covering the general (global) regional context (e.g. Asia, America, Africa, Oceania, Europe); any interregional dimensions (e.g. Eurasian settings); and any specific ‘regional’ institutional frameworks or visions (either more formal/ supranational/‘binding’, or more ‘informal’/intergovernmental/incentive based, etc.) which could impact the planning and spatial development of the territory. This could include legislation, policies, or programmes that you feel could be particularly relevant to the area (e.g. environment, regional policy, transport, cultural policy). 3. How the characteristics set out under (1) above might interact with the settings mapped out under (2) above. This could lead to an assessment of how any transnational institutions, policies, and initiatives might impact the territory generating opportunities and challenges for its spatial planning and development. 4. Recommendations which could be made to the territorial authority about how it might respond to the identified and evaluated transnational context(s) for its spatial planning and development. (continued)


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

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Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. (2018). Project Ireland 2040 - National Planning Framework. Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Dublin. Department for Regional Development. (2010). Regional Development Strategy - Building a Better Future. Belfast, Department for Regional Development. Durand, F. (2014). Challenges of cross-border spatial planning in the metropolitan regions of Luxembourg and Lille. Planning Practice & Research, 29(2), 113–132. 0/02697459.2014.896148 Durand, F., & Perrin, T. (2018). Eurometropolis Lille–Kortrijk–Tournai: Cross-border integration with or without the border? European Urban and Regional Studies, 25(3), 320–336. https://doi. org/10.1177/0969776417704688 Dzumbira, W., Geyer, H. S., Jr., & Geyer, H. S. (2017). Measuring the spatial economic impact of the Maputo development corridor. Development Southern Africa, 34(5), 635–651. https://doi. org/10.1080/0376835X.2017.1318699 Ehler, C., & Douvere, F. (2009). Marine spatial planning: A step-by-step approach toward ecosystem-based management. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and Man and the Biosphere Programme. Entrikin, M. (2019). Bordered: Land use development in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico (Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University). ESPON. (2007). ESPON project 2.3.1 Application and effects of the ESDP in the Member States. Luxembourg, ESPON. Faludi, A. (2013). Territorial cohesion, territorialism, territoriality, and soft planning: A critical review. Environment and Planning A, 45(6), 1302–1317. Faludi, A. (2018). The Poverty of Territorialism - A Neo-Medieval View of Europe and European Planning. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar. Graute, U., D’hondt, F., Petrella, L., Bajaj, M., & Oyuela, A. (2018). International guidelines on urban and territorial planning (IG-UTP) handbook. United Nations Human Settlements Programme. Hall, P., McCalla, R. J., Comtois, C., & Slack, B. (Eds.). (2011). Integrating seaports and trade corridors. Ashgate. Hayward, K. (2017). Bordering on Brexit: Views from local communities in the central border region of Ireland/Northern Ireland. Herzog, L.  A., & Sohn, C. (2014). The cross-border metropolis in a global age: A conceptual model and empirical evidence from the US–Mexico and European border regions. Global Society, 28(4), 441–461. InterTradeIreland. (2006). Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland Development of a Framework for Collaborative Action. Newry, InterTradeIreland. ITF. (2019). ITF transport outlook 2019. OECD Publishing. Kidd, S., & Shaw, D. (2021). Regional design stepping into the sea. In M. Nueman & W. Zonneveld (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of regional design (pp. 338–355). Routledge. Kidd, S., Shaw, D., & Janssen, H. (2020). Exploring land-sea interactions: Insights for shaping territorial space. Europa XXI, 36, 45–59. Kuo, L., & Kommenda, N. (2018). What is China’s belt and road initiative. The Guardian, 30, 2018. Lille Métropole (LMCU). (2010). Les flux d’échanges de personnes entre Métropole européenne de Lille et l’extérieur. Lille: Métropole européenne de Lille – Service études de déplacements. Liu, W., & Dunford, M. (2016). Inclusive globalization: Unpacking China’s belt and road initiative. Area Development and Policy, 1(3), 323–340. Mitchell, J. (1998). The Maputo development corridor: A case study of the SDI process in Mpumalanga. Development Southern Africa, 15(5), 757–779. https://doi. org/10.1080/03768359808440048 Nadin, V., Fernandez Maldonado, A.  M., Zonneveld, W.  A. M., Stead, D., Dabrowski, M.  M., Piskorek, K.  I., Sarkar, A., Schmitt, P., Smas, L., Cotella, G., & Janin Rivolin, U. (2018). COMPASS–Comparative analysis of territorial governance and spatial planning Systems in Europe. ESPON. Nienaber, B., & Wille, C. (2020). Cross-border cooperation in Europe: A relational perspective. European Planning Studies, 28(1), 1–7.


7  Cross-Border Planning, Transnational, and Supranational Planning Contexts

Notteboom, T.  E., & Rodrigue, J.  P. (2005). Port regionalization: Towards a new phase in port development. Maritime Policy & Management, 32(3), 297–313. Paasi, A., & Zimmerbauer, K. (2016). Penumbral borders and planning paradoxes: Relational thinking and the question of borders in spatial planning. Environment and Planning A, 48(1), 75–93. Patent, V. (2017). What are borders? OpenLearn. Retrieved March 17, 2022. Peña, S. (2007). Cross-border planning at the U.S.-Mexico border: An institutional approach. Journal of Borderlands Studies, 22(1), 1–18. Perrin, T. (2016). D’Euralille à la métropole européenne de Lille: l’Europe, axe majeur du développement métropolitain? In: Lebras, D., Seigneuret, N., & Talandier, M. (Eds.), Métropoles en chantiers (pp. 63–78). Boulogne-Billancourt: Berger-Levrault. Perroux, F. (1955). Note sur la notion de pole de croissance. Economie Appliquee, 7, 307–320. Pomfret, R. (2021). Mutual gains from Eurasian railway connectivity. China and the World, 4(03), 2150012. Priemus, H., & Zonneveld, W. (2003). What are corridors and what are the issues? Introduction to special issue: The governance of corridors. Journal of Transport Geography, 11(3), 167–177. Rodrigue, J.  P. (2004). Freight, gateways and mega-urban regions: The logistical integration of the Bostwash Corridor. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 95(2), 147–161. Rodrigue, J. P., & Notteboom, T. (2011). Port regionalization: Improving port competitiveness by reaching beyond the port perimeter. Port Technology International, 52, 11–17. Safi, M. (2018). Sri Lanka’s ‘new Dubai’: will Chinese-built city suck the life out of Colombo?. The Guardian, 02 August 2018, Retrieved 29 October 2022. Salet, W. (2008). Rethinking urban projects: Experiences in Europe. Urban Studies, 45(11), 2343–2363. Scholvin, S. (2021). Getting the territory wrong: The dark side of development corridors. Area Development and Policy, 6(4), 441–450. Scott, J. W. (1999). European and North American contexts for cross-border regionalism. Regional Studies, 33(7), 605–617. Söderbaum, F., & Taylor, I. (2001). Transmission belt for transnational capital or facilitator for development? Problematising the role of the state in the Maputo Development Corridor. Journal of Modern African Studies, 39(4), 675–695. Srivastava, P. (2011). Regional corridors development in regional cooperation. Asian Development Bank Economics Working Paper Series 258. Stiftel, B. (2021). Planners and the new urban agenda: Will we lead the agenda, or will the agenda lead us?. Town Planning Review, 92(04), 421–441. Sykes, O., & Schulze-Bäing, A. (2017). Regional and territorial development policy after the 2016 EU referendum–initial reflections and some tentative scenarios. Local Economy, 32(3), 240–256. UN-Habitat. (2015). International guidelines on urban and territorial planning: Towards a compendium of inspiring practices. UN-Habitat. UNHSP (United Nations Human Settlements Programme). (2018), Leading change: Delivering the new urban agenda through urban and territorial planning. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). (1998). Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters done at Aarhus, Denmark, on 25 June 1998. Van Klink, H., & Van Den Berg, G. (1998). Gateways and intermodalism. Journal of Transport Geography, 6, 1–9. Wong, C. (2015). A framework for ‘City prosperity index’: Linking indicators, analysis and policy. Habitat International, 45, 3–9. Yarashevich, V. (2021). The Eurasian Economic Union as a regional development project: Expectations and realities. Area Development and Policy, 6(1), 82–105.


Planning as an International Discipline

Introduction This chapter discusses planning as an international discipline and considers the three pillars of professionalism and practice, planning education, and planning research. Firstly, the concepts of profession and professionalism are explored with an emphasis on how they relate to planning practice in an international context. Secondly, the internationalisation of planning education is discussed, and finally, the international dimensions of planning scholarship and research are explored. In a practice-facing discipline these three areas are obviously closely interrelated—for example, raising issues about how future planners are educated to take up their roles in practice; how relevant the knowledge about planning produced by planner scholars is to practising planners; and how experiences and planning issues which arise from the ‘real world’ of practice inform planning education and research. These interrelationships are often complex and debated in different national settings and are inflected when considering planning practice, education, and scholarship in an international context.

An International Context for the Planning Profession As discussed in earlier chapters, international experience and professional lives which take in work in different national contexts are nothing new in planning. Planning ideas have often been carried from place to place by individuals who have gained knowledge and experience of how planning addresses certain issues in different places. Though international aspects of planning may seem remote from the day-to-day working lives of many planners (even if these do exert an implicit influence on their activities), those working in cross-border regions, or on planning challenges with a global dimension, may see a closer link to the international context. Today planners from diverse sectors and scales of planning encounter international

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8  Planning as an International Discipline

issues in their work. International and supranational bodies like the UN and the EU set policies which can affect planning (both binding and non-binding—see Chaps. 6 and 7), and some planners will find employment within such organisations, or their agencies. Planners working in the private sector for large multinational developers, or planning and design consultants, may have the option to work in offices and on projects in a range of countries. The third sector, NGO, and aid organisations also provide a setting for the work of planners. For example, the French charity Urbanistes Sans Frontières (USF—Town Planners Without Borders/https://www. usf-­ fosters international cooperation and promotes sustainable development in the fields of town and regional planning. So, whilst some other professions may have a higher profile as ‘international professions’ gained, for example, through prominent exposure in the media, planning can stake a strong claim to being a profession with a significant international dimension. In order to more fully examine planning as an international profession, it is useful to explore the issue in relation to some of what are commonly seen as the attributes of professions.

What Is a Profession? According to the Campbell and Marshall (2005) a profession and its members may commonly be characterised by a set of attributes: 1. Specialised knowledge which in its application requires a distinguishing expertise and set of skills: 2. Autonomy—independence of authority in transactions with clients; 3. Commitment to altruistic public service; and 4. Existence of an occupational (professional) association which controls entry to its ranks, exercises responsibility for the advancement of knowledge and for the training of recruits to the profession, and establishes standards of professional conduct Alterman (2017) also includes a criterion of legal recognition noting that this is not currently acquired by planning in many countries. This reflects an essential issue that needs to be recognised when considering the nature of the planning profession in a given country. Namely that what constitutes the planning profession and planning practice varies widely in different international contexts. In particular, the extent to which planning in different countries possesses the attributes listed by Campbell and Marshall (2005), and its degree, and form of professionalization, are highly differentiated. One must therefore avoid crudely applying models of professional organisation inspired by how things work in one country when seeking to define or ‘read’ planning in other places. With this ‘health warning’ in mind, the following paragraphs seek to explore the professional attributes noted earlier from an international planning perspective.

An International Context for the Planning Profession


• As regards specialised knowledge, Alterman (2017, p. 3) argues that planning as a profession is distinctive in that it ‘uniquely stands on two quite different pillars: substantive knowledge about cities and spatial relations; and expert knowledge about public policymaking, how it works, and how to design policies that governments are likely to adopt’. But she also notes that in a context where emphasis is being placed globally on new urban agendas and measures to address urban issues planning faces competition for influence over urban transitions from other disciplines and professionals. Some of these are more long-established and may be more powerful than planning, for example, architects, engineers, and real estate professionals. This issue relates to that of autonomy which is considered next. The notion of specialised knowledge being a requirement of professional status is also clearly linked to the issue of education considered later. • On the issue of autonomy, a key criterion is how much discretion professionals have in transactions with clients. This has always posed an interesting set of issues for planning given that many planners work for bodies tasked with taking forward public policies in the collective interest. The latter point relates to the second characteristic of professions identified earlier, the commitment to altruistic public service. Such roles and obligations mean that often planners may not have full autonomy to practice planning in any way they may wish, being constrained by their role and duties as professionals and often public servants committed to serving the general interest. The other issue is defining who is, or are, the ‘client(s)’ of planning—the individuals who use a local planning service; the elected political masters of planners in a democratic system; the whole population of a given territory whose government a planner may work for; or even non-­ human entities such as the natural environment and species that inhabit it? In short who, or what, does the activity of planning and those who practice it exist to serve? Obviously, the answer may be clearer for a planner practising in the private sector who is commissioned to provide professional advice to a client in the more conventional sense. The international dimension enters the frame here because the degree of professional autonomy is also conditioned by the nature of different administrative and planning systems and the political culture in general. Are planners viewed ‘simply’ as state functionaries whose primary goal is to implement politically directed policies deemed to be in the public interest? Or are they expected or entitled to exercise discretion in decision-making based on their own professional expertise? A related question in some contexts might also  be  what are the consequences personally or professionally of exercising autonomy? • The degree of autonomy may also be in part related to another key attribute of professions outlined in Box 8.1, namely the existence of an occupational (professional) association. This might be expected to perform a number of functions including—controlling entry to the ranks of the profession, advancing the state of knowledge in the field that its members claim to ‘profess’ in, overseeing the education of those that wish to join the profession, and establishing


8  Planning as an International Discipline

required standards of professional conduct. There is a link to the issue of professional autonomy here, because this is not only conditioned by the varied nature of different administrative and planning systems, but also by planning’s perceived distinctiveness and independence from other (as noted earlier), often more long-established professions. This may be reflected in the presence or absence of a professional association dedicated solely, or principally, to planning, and whether planners (in the sense of those ‘doing planning’) must join the associations of other urban professions such as architecture or civil engineering  to practice professionally. In some parts of the world the planning profession is more long established and autonomous than in others, where planning continues to be seen as an activity which can be undertaken, perhaps as a specialism, by other urban professionals. The situation in this respect will reflect many of the contextual dimensions of planning addressed throughout this book, such as the moment of the historical emergence of planning, the planning issues a country faces, the institutional and societal settings within which planning has to operate, and the resultant ‘planning cultures’ (see Chap. 3). There is therefore a need to be contextually aware when looking at how the planning profession is constituted in different places. Rather than taking too narrow a perspective defined by the situation in one’s own context. Instead, recognising that systems which regulate land use and seek to address environmental impacts of development exist in  different countries around the world; international planning study might ask questions such as ‘what kind of planning takes place’, ‘who is doing planning’, ‘what skills do planners have’, and ‘what is their role’ in different countries? As Campbell and Marshall (2005) note, matters often seen as falling under the purview of a professional association include—the control of entry to a profession and the education of recruits, the advancement of knowledge, and the establishment of a code of professional conduct. Planning education and research in an international context are dealt with in later sections. The rest of this section now turns to the issue of ethics and professionalism.

Ethics and Professionalism in an International Context A key dimension of claims to professionalism in planning and other professions is that members are bound by some kind of code of ethical practice which is frequently linked to the commitment to altruistic public service mentioned previously. Thus, planning institutes and associations in different countries will often require planners to sign up to and follow such a code. When viewed from an international perspective this raises the question of whether there can be a universal concept of ethics and code of professional practice which could be meaningfully operationalized across diverse international contexts. Even within one country the range of different kinds of work that planners do makes defining a single appropriate set of

An International Context for the Planning Profession


professional guidelines complex. Planners work in the public, private, or third sectors and this may imply different conceptions of working altruistically, ethically, and professionally in the public interest—for example, supporting democratic oversight of development decisions, stimulating economic growth and job creation, or helping marginalised groups or interests find representation in the planning process. Ethical issues of course arise when working in planning internationally as they do when working in one national context and may be inflected by different perceptions of ethical or moral standards. Planners working in an international context may encounter very different ways of doing things than those with which they are familiar from their home, or other context(s) they might have worked in. This could relate to general systemic issues such as the extent of, or lack of, democratic involvement or scrutiny of planning decisions. Although planning academia and thought continues to be dominated by the global ‘north west’ in which most countries currently function according to, more or less, democratic assumptions around public policy and decision-making, this is not the case in all countries. Planners today find themselves being called to provide planning services for many different kinds of political regime. It is quite common today for consumers, and states, to informally or formally sanction, or in extreme cases boycott, the products of certain states, or impose certain restrictions on their citizens, based on state behaviour (e.g. the promulgation of warfare, or human rights abuses). Should planners do the same? The history of planning has not always lived up to the general claims made for the activity and profession—that they serve progressive ends and the collective interest (see Chap. 2). To avoid being co-opted in this way for purposes which may grate against the claimed progressive ends of the ‘planning project’, should planners therefore avoid working for certain kinds of regimes, or certain kinds of planning ends? Or not work in, or with, states and institutions that do not have the same ethics and values as their own, or those of the professional association to  which they  belong? Conversely, what if one is convinced that, despite the nature of a regime, one can do some ‘planning good’ by working in such a context? Should the poor or discriminated against, or non-human entities such as endangered species or habitats, lose out doubly just because they are located in the territory of a regime that one objects to for value-based reasons? Some planners who have worked in such contexts justify their engagement (e.g. taking commissions for planning work) in such settings in these terms. Are they naïve, in danger of being complicit, or brave, for making this choice? As noted previously one of the attributes often ascribed to professions is that they operate according to a code of professional practice which will typically require certain ethical and behavioural standards to be maintained. Many such codes today include a requirement that planners should not discriminate on the grounds of characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. Attitudes to such issues can shape the kinds of built environments that different societies produce—for example, sometimes resulting in the construction of segregated neighbourhoods for different religious or ethnic groups. Therefore, these kinds of issues may affect the work that planners are called upon to undertake. This can be an ethical challenge in any context, including one’s ‘home’ context, but may be particularly challenging when working in a different national or cultural setting.


8  Planning as an International Discipline

For example, how does one avoid being drawn into, and becoming responsible, for certain planning outcomes which may be at odds ethically with one’s professional, or personal code of ethics and beliefs? How might one express reservations to others in a self-aware and non-antagonistic manner? Remember, our own stances and attitudes are also shaped by the context in which we have lived and been educated. Planners from developed countries, for example, may need to appreciate the diverse  cultural and development contexts in different places to avoid appearing to adopt neo-colonial, or patronising stances towards different ways of doing things. An example of this may be perceived corruption in decision-making around planning and development of land. As Sundaresan (2019, p.  5) notes, ‘Discourse on corruption enjoys a privileged position’ in explaining the ‘un-governability’ of India and other developing countries. Yet as he points out, this is based on foundational assumptions about ‘how governing process should and ought to work’. Sometimes these do not account for the complexities, challenges, and context-­dependency of practice. For example, many codes of professional practice include clauses which warn against allowing pecuniary, familial, or ‘club’-related interests and affinities to affect planning practice generating potential conflicts of interest. The receiving of ‘gifts’ or benefits is also generally discouraged and these typically need to be declined or declared. But there may be contexts where such practices, which might be perceived as ‘corruption’ in one cultural setting, may be an acceptable, even necessary, way of doing things in another—for example, to show respect, or foster participation by certain groups in planning processes. To try and help planners navigate these issues, there are some potential sources of guidance on professional and ethical issues in international planning practice. Professional associations which accredit planning programmes in certain countries require that members adhere to their code of conduct regardless of where they are working in the world (e.g. the UK’s Royal Town Planning Institute). Documents such as the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (UN-HABITAT, 2015, p. 8) also advance some general normative principles about how planning should be conducted, noting it is ‘a core component of the renewed urban governance paradigm, which promotes local democracy, participation and inclusion, transparency and accountability’. There are also initiatives which have been developed through inter-professional and international cooperation and seek to provide guidance to urban professionals. The International Ethics Standards Coalition (IESC) is a group of over 100 professional organizations which has developed a universal set of ethical principles for real estate and related professions including planning which it hopes ‘will serve as an anchor to appropriate behaviours’ and ‘help ensure higher levels of global professionalism by challenging inconsistency’ (IESC, 2021, p. 1) (Box 8.1).

An International Context for the Planning Profession


Box 8.1  International Ethical Principles: An Ethical Framework for the Global Property Market

1. Accountability: Practitioners shall take full responsibility for the services they provide; shall recognise and respect client, third party and stakeholder rights and interests; and shall give due attention to social and environmental considerations throughout. 2. Confidentiality: Practitioners shall not disclose any confidential or proprietary information without prior permission, unless such disclosure is required by applicable laws or regulations. 3. Conflict of interest: Practitioners shall make any and all appropriate disclosures in a timely manner before and during the performance of a service. If, after disclosure, a conflict cannot be removed or mitigated, the practitioner shall withdraw from the matter unless the parties affected mutually agree that the practitioner should properly continue. 4. Financial Responsibility: Practitioners shall be truthful, transparent and trustworthy in all their financial dealings. 5. Integrity: Practitioners shall act with honesty and fairness and shall base their professional advice on relevant, valid, and objective evidence. 6. Lawfulness: Practitioners shall observe the legal requirements applicable to their discipline for the jurisdictions in which they practise, together with any applicable international laws. 7. Reflection: Practitioners shall regularly reflect on the standards for their discipline, and shall continually evaluate the services they provide to ensure that their practice is consistent with evolving ethical principles and professional standards. 8. Standard of Service: Practitioners shall only provide services for which they are competent and qualified; shall ensure that any employees or associates assisting in the provision of services have the necessary competence to do so; and shall provide reliable professional leadership for their colleagues or teams. 9. Transparency: Practitioners shall be open and accessible; shall not mislead or attempt to mislead; shall not misinform or withhold information as regards products or terms of service; and shall present relevant documentary or other material in plain and intelligible language. 10. Trust: Practitioners shall uphold their responsibility to promote the reputation of their profession and shall recognise that their practice and conduct bear upon the maintenance of public trust and confidence in the IESC professional organisations and the professions they represent.


8  Planning as an International Discipline

These principles mirror those of the individual codes of practice of the IESC members and of many other professions. Clearly, they are a useful guide, but the question may arise as to who will ensure compliance, and who does an individual practitioner turn to for support if they feel that something they are asked to do may conflict with these standards? Such questions can be challenging even when in one’s ‘home’ context but potentially more so when practising in another international setting where advice and line management may be thousands of kilometres away! Also, echoing a methodological issue raised in Chap. 4, though Principle 9 requires documents or other material to be presented in ‘plain and intelligible’ language, in an international situation this may require material to be translated into a different language from one in which a practitioner is competent. Language issues may also apply when taking ‘instruction’ for planning work affecting compliance with Principle 8. The idiomatic term ‘Lost in Translation’ provided the title of a 2003 film in which American characters experience a range of cross-cultural experiences and misunderstandings whilst  in Tokyo, and alludes to how communication can be challenging, and nuances of meaning lost, as ideas transition from one language to another. This reflects how meaning in translation is rarely just literal because different languages and cultures have distinctive ways of apprehending reality. This is an important issue to acknowledge, for as Kunzmann (2015, 2019) has pointed out, despite increased use of English amongst some ‘internationalised’ planners, the language of planning practice typically remains the local language, or indeed languages. Whilst progress on internationally agreed standards of practice is doubtlessly useful, as in many of the issues in this book an awareness of context—including being sure to ‘do one’s homework’ about any international setting one may be called upon to work in—is crucial in navigating the issues outlined above. This will not always guarantee that difficulties can be avoided, but as in undertaking any activity in planning, it is useful to be able to anticipate as far as possible any difficulties or issues that may arise. This relates to the final issue to be discussed in this section which also links to Principle 7 of the IESC framework—reflection. Indeed no discussion of professionalism would be complete without reference to the notion of reflective practice.

Reflective International Planning Practice In his book the Reflective Practitioner – How Professionals Think in Action (Schön, 1982) Schön examined how professionals in fields including town planning and architecture go about solving problems. He identified two forms of reflection which they undertake—‘reflection-in-action’ and ‘reflection-on-action’. The former is sometimes described as ‘thinking on your feet’ and is what professionals do whilst acting in practice, whilst reflection on action takes places later and involves ‘exploring why we acted as we did’ and developing ‘sets of questions and ideas about our activities and practice’ (Smith, 2011). Linked to this, in acting, professionals may be influenced by a ‘repertoire’ they have developed composed of ‘a collection of images, ideas, examples and actions that they can draw upon’ (Smith, 2011) in which ‘The familiar situation functions as a precedent, or a metaphor, or… an exemplar for the unfamiliar one’ (Schön, 1983, p. 138). Given that professional repertoires and the ‘familiar situations’

An International Context for Planning Education


which may act as precedents in guiding reflection in action may typically be derived from practising planning within a given national context and planning culture, they may retain more or less relevance, and be of varying degrees of assistance, when one is practising internationally in a different setting. An existing repertoire may still be very useful in guiding reflection ‘in action’, for example, on substantive and technical aspects of planning, but where cultural and institutional settings differ substantially from those with which we are familiar, ‘reflection on practice’ may be particularly important as a means of learning how to operate effectively and sensitively in a different international context. In summary, practising planning internationally requires not only an awareness of all the ‘usual’ issues associated with professionalism, but also an appreciation of how the international dimension may inflect many of these.

An International Context for Planning Education I nternationalisation and (or Versus?) Internationalism in Higher Education A range of forces are driving internationalisation trends in planning education raising a number of different issues (Frank, 2019; Chakravarty & Qamhaieh, 2019; Leigh et al., 2019). There is an evolving demand for knowledge and skills which relate to how urbanisation and development can be effectively managed. This has led to the education of urban professionals, including planners, receiving attention from various international bodies. For example, the signatories of the UN’s New Urban Agenda (UN-Habitat, 2017, p. 27) state that they ‘will strive to improve capacity for urban planning and design and the provision of training for urban planners at national, subnational and local levels’. However, there is also a ‘supply side’ to the rise of internationalised planning education with the provision of higher education—particularly in some countries and regions with more marketised education systems (Lambert, 2019)—becoming a ‘big business’. In this context the pursuit of internationalisation strategies by certain institutions (often, though not exclusively situated in the Global North) may flow from a blend of both profit-seeking internationalisation and  less pecuniary forms of internationalism. This section therefore considers the rapid rise of international planning education and training and the issues associated with the education of planners as ‘world professionals’. Universities around the world have developed strategies and teaching programmes which seek to promote internationalisation and respond to the issues it raises (Goldstein & Carmin, 2006). Within this wider context planning has often been viewed as a discipline well suited to internationalisation and a wide variety of degree programmes in planning and related subjects, such as environmental assessment, are offered internationally. Many of these are explicitly tailored to preparing graduates to contribute to the habitability (Conley, 2012) and resilience (Davoudi, 2012) of cities and regions in the face of the kinds of ‘current and future urban and development challenges’ relating to demography, environment, economy, socio-­ spatial issues, and institutions  identified  by bodies like  the UN (UN-HABITAT, 2009) (see Chap. 6). Such planning programmes in a number of countries now attract significant numbers of international students (Box 8.2).


8  Planning as an International Discipline

Box 8.2  An Example of the Internationalisation of Higher Education

The University of Liverpool emphasises the need for graduates to have an ‘ability to operate in culturally diverse contexts’ and the importance of ‘creating a distinctive and exciting learning environment for both international and UK students’. Internationalisation is a cross-cutting theme pursued through specific initiatives notably the founding, in 2006, of a partner university XJTLU in Suzhou, China. This offers students the opportunity to study towards a Chinese and a UK degree, with an option of transferring to Liverpool for the second and third years of their degrees to complete the rest of their undergraduate studies in the UK. As a result of such initiatives, international students now comprise a significant proportion of student cohorts at the University of Liverpool and in planning they sometimes comprise the majority of learners (Sykes et al., 2015).

Planning Education: Universal or Context Specific? One question for international planning education is whether planning is a universal activity which can be taught in more or less the same way with a similar curriculum in different places, or if planning education needs to be differentiated more strongly to reflect different contexts. There have been various attempts to define a general ‘core’ to planning education (Box 8.3) and ‘By the early 1990s the consensus seems to have been that the most appropriate way forward would be to provide a strong grounding in universalist planning principles together with a degree of flexibility’ to meet the needs of learners from different specific global contexts (Chakravarty & Qamhaieh, 2019, p. 24).

Box 8.3  The ‘Core of Planning Education’ (AESOP Working Group on the Curriculum of Planning Education, 1995)

Planning education involves the scientific study of and training in creative conceptual and practical thinking on the relation between society and environment at various territorial levels and in the search, development, and advancement of opportunities for purposeful intervention in that relation to ensure sustainable development. The core of the curriculum of planning education is threefold: • Theoretical and practical knowledge on the desirability of legitimacy of and conditions for purposeful planning intervention; • Theoretical and practical knowledge on the preparation and advancement of such interventions and on judging the effects thus generated; • Technological knowledge and skills to actually engage in planning activities in real-life situations. Source: https://aesop-­­recognition/core-­ curriculum

An International Context for Planning Education


The ‘dualism-versus-universalism’ debate (Burayidi, 1993, p.  223 cited in Chakravarty & Qamhaieh, 2019, p. 24) relates to the important issue of how relevant planning education in developed countries is to the needs of future planners from other contexts. UN-HABITAT (2009), for example, argues: Some planning schools in developed countries do not educate students to work in different contexts, thus limiting their mobility and posing a major problem for developing country students who want to return home to practice their skills.

This issue has become even more salient in recent years as notions such as international urban agendas and global planning challenges have come to the fore and international student mobility has increased. There is a strong link here to debates on the extent of genuine internationalisation of planning research and related issues such as the language in which allegedly ‘international’ planning debates take place. As Kunzmann (2019, p. 6) notes, ‘Planners have to be educated to cope with the challenges of their local or regional environments’, and in their daily work most planners in communicating with ‘citizens, developers, politicians and powerful local stakeholders, do it in their local language’. How relevant much scholarship on planning is across different world planning contexts, given the dominance of the international academic and publishing systems by a ‘core’ north-western often Anglophone region of the globe, is considered later. This is also a crucial question for the internationalisation of planning education. If the existence of a ‘theory–practice’ gap was a feature of the discipline when it was largely taught within national contexts to cohorts of predominantly ‘home students’, then the challenge of ‘closing the gap’ may be plausibly much greater where students are drawn from, and often return to practice in, a far more diverse range of international contexts.

The ‘One-World’ Model of Planning Education To address the issues discussed previously, UN-HABITAT (2009) and others (Sanyal, 1990) have argued for the adoption of a ‘one-world’ approach to planning education which equips students to work in different ‘world contexts’. This is seen as beneficial not only to students, for example, from developing countries who may be studying a developed country context, but also to students from developed countries whether studying in their home context or elsewhere. In fact any distinction between students from ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries is seen by some as becoming less relevant and as potentially problematic. Chakravarty and Qamhaieh (2019, p.  24) point out that terms like ‘poor countries’ and ‘third world country students’ ‘have gone out of fashion, and not just for the sake of political correctness’. They note that today ‘Many ‘poor countries’ have isolated districts that feature impressive skylines, advanced transit infrastructure, glittering financial centres, and exclusive gated communities’, meaning that ‘Planners in these countries simultaneously deal with poverty and informality on the one hand, and rapid growth, fuelled by market integration and speculative pressures, on the other’ (2019, p. 24).


8  Planning as an International Discipline

The implication is that future planners who will work in such contexts need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to address diverse development issues arising, from both rapid wealth creation and enduring, or growing inequality. Meanwhile those who are from, and studying within, a developed country context might also benefit from teaching which considers such issues. For example, their subsequent careers as practising planners may lead them to work in very different planning contexts internationally. Furthermore, globalisation does not only result in straightforward trajectories of ‘development’ (Chakravarty & Qamhaieh, 2019, p. 25), but the economic and urban restructuring it has wrought is also associated with forms of decline—notably in some developed country contexts where it has contributed to phenomena such as ‘rust belt’ regions and ‘shrinking cities’ (Pallagst et al., 2017). This means that issues such as addressing urban poverty and the need to plan for greater equity are resonant in such developed contexts too—even if great care is needed in drawing any comparisons to avoid any crude assumptions of equivalence between such issues in developed and developing country settings. Another example of a phenomenon more typically associated with developing countries which is becoming more relevant within developed countries is informality (see Chap. 3). Informal settlements such as refugee encampments are now a feature of cities and regions in some developed countries. In light of  this and other issues  there are increasingly seen to be opportunities for knowledge and policy transfer (see Chap. 3) from the Global South and developing country settings towards the Global North and developed countries—for example, experience with participatory budgeting in Brazil has been influential in shaping thinking in a number of countries of the Global North (Sintomer et al., 2008). Increasingly the patterns of relevance and exchange of planning policies and practices do not only flow through some simple ‘developed–developing’ country binary pattern. Nor do ‘western’ and developed countries act in some ‘neo-­ colonialist’ way as the only global ‘junction box’ through which ideas, experiences, and practices must necessarily pass. The rise of new economic powers and relationships and ease of information transfer have led to growing learning and exchanges between developing countries and within the Global South. Often such countries and their cities and regions may be more similar to one another in terms of development contexts, issues, and resources, than to more developed countries and cities, potentially leading to greater opportunities for relevant comparisons, policy learning, and transfer. As the world faces new development challenges and the need to respond to phenomena such as climate change, many of the ‘globe’s central urban issues’ (Watson, 2009) and new knowledge(s) are increasingly to be found in the regions and countries of the Global South. And much of the most pertinent new knowledge for a practice-facing discipline like planning is also being generated outside the ‘international’ commercialised university systems of the Anglophone countries of the global ‘north west’. This implies a need in many cases to ‘decentre’ planning curricula, especially in ‘developed’ countries, so that they consider wider issues and perspectives.

An International Context for Planning Education


Decolonising the Planning Curriculum As outlined in Chap. 2 the international history of planning as a discipline is inextricably intertwined with that of Western colonial modernism, and this has affected development, people, and places during both the colonial and post-colonial periods. This, and enduring contemporary imbalances in the international academic system, raise issues which have been highlighted by authors such as Sandercock (1998) and Watson (2009), amongst others. Wesely and Allen (2019, p.  139), for example, note that: the political economy and pedagogic practices adopted in higher education programmes often reproduce Western-centric political imaginations of planning, which in turn reproduce urban inequality. Many educational institutions across the global South, for example, continue teaching colonial agendas and fail to recognise everyday planning practices in the way cities are built and managed.

Decolonisation of the university curriculum has also risen to prominence more widely in recent years reflecting calls from students and academics (Heleta, 2016; Muldoon, 2019; Radcliffe, 2017) to recognise that existing curricula and institutional structures frequently sustain colonial ‘western-centric’ modes of thought and power structures despite the end of formal colonial rule. The accompanying call for reading lists and content of university programmes to become more inclusive of non-Western and non-white authors and ideas is clearly relevant to planning. Heleta (2016, p. 7) calls on academics ‘to decolonise their own curriculum and democratise the learning space in which they operate’ (Heleta, 2016, p.  7). The review of planning curricula, and more internationally diverse cohorts of students on planning programmes, offers particular opportunities to respond to such calls and reflect on the biases of contemporary planning. Muldoon (2019) notes decolonisation is about ‘an underlying transformation from a culture of denial and exclusion to a consideration of different traditions of knowledge’. It is partly ‘about addressing how the forces of racism and colonialism have shaped our past and present’ (Muldoon, 2019), but ‘the decolonial turn’ goes beyond this and ‘encourages re-thinking the world from Latin America, from Africa, from Indigenous places, and from the marginalized academia in the global South, and so on’ (Radcliffe, 2017, p.  2 drawing on Grosfoguel, 2011). As Le Grange (2016, p. 8) observes, ‘There are several approaches that one might take in decolonising the curriculum. But central to any approach must be rethinking of the subject’. This echoes Watson’s (2009) notion of ‘Seeing from the South’ as a way of refocusing urban planning on the ‘globe’s central urban issues’ and the sites where new knowledge which can develop planning as an internationally relevant discipline is being generated. The latter perspective seems particularly relevant in light of the arguments about adopting the ‘one world’ approach to planning education and developing multiculturally ‘literate’ (Sandercock, 1998) and reflective future planners. To encourage this, there are already initiatives which seek to foster international cooperation on planning education (see Box 8.4 and Frank, 2019).


8  Planning as an International Discipline

Box 8.4  The Global Planning Education Association Network (GPEAN)

The Global Planning Education Association Network (GPEAN) was established in the wake of the first World Planning Schools Congress in 2001 in Shanghai and currently GPEAN has 11 member associations: • • • • • • • • • • •

AAPS: Association of African Planning Schools ACSP: Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, US ACUPP: Association of Canadian University Planning Programs AESOP: Association of European Schools of Planning ALEUP: Asociación Latinoamericana de Escuelas de Urbanismo y Planeación ANPUR: Associação Nacional de Pós-graduação e Pesquisa em Planejamento Urbano e Regional ANZAPS: Australian and New Zealand Association of Planning Schools APERAU: Association pour la Promotion de l’Enseignement et de la Recherche en Aménagement et Urbanisme APSA: Asian Planning Schools Association ASPI: Association of Schools of Planning in Indonesia TUPOB: Association of Planning Schools of Turkey

A central goal of the network is to improve the quality of planning education and the visibility of the planning profession by putting spatial planning and its education at the forefront of the global agenda. The network organizes a World Planning Schools Congress every five years, publishes a book series ‘Dialogues in Urban and Regional Planning’, and is actively involved in UN-HABITAT events and activities such as the New Urban Agenda (UN-Habitat, 2017)—for example, at the HABITAT III Conference, it organised an event called ‘Capacity Building for the New Urban Agenda: Roles for Universities’. For more information see:

De-colonialising the curriculum also takes on a particular meaning in a practice facing discipline like planning. As emphasised throughout the book, planning knowledge is not developed, acquired, and applied solely through formal educational and other institutions, but through a diverse range of practices often in informal settings. Wesely and Allen (2019, p. 140) remind us that ‘Particularly in the context of cities of the Global South, professional planners are only one part of a wide network of urban practitioners, who are collectively and individually, formally and informally, building and shaping cities’. For these reasons they argue that ‘de-­colonising planning involves both addressing inequalities within the political economy of higher education institutions in Urban Planning Education (UPE), and the blind spots reinforced through outdated colonial curricula that renders ‘formal’ planning as the main process responsible for building cities across the global South, while ignoring the

An International Context for Planning Research


role and struggles of ‘informal’ city-makers’ (2019, p. 140). The notion of the ‘planning curriculum’ and the importance and implications of pursuing its decolonialisation are important themes of enquiry in international planning studies, which, in keeping with debates in other professional disciplines, have dimensions which extend far beyond university campus–based discussions about decolonialisation.

An International Context for Planning Research Exploring notions of internationalisation and internationalism in planning brings into focus debates about ‘international’ planning research and its relationship with the ‘real world’ of planning practice in different parts of the world. These question the degree of genuine internationalism in the scholarship of planning (Kunzmann, 2004, 2019) and related fields such as human geography (Paasi, 2015), highlighting the appropriation and definitional control of the term ‘international’ by some interests, global regions, and institutions. The definitions of the ‘international’ introduced in Chap. 1 and the notions of internationalisation and internationalism discussed in Chap. 2 are useful to bear in mind here.

What Is ‘International’ Planning Research? There is a long history of scholarly exchanges around planning, but whilst there is nothing new about ideas ‘crossing borders’, as ‘the scale and depth of global interconnectivity has accelerated, so too has the circulation of knowledge and expertise’ (Healey & Upton, 2010, p. ix). Just as in the past, in the contemporary world there is still a strong normative dimension to this. The association of the adjective ‘international’ with some scholarly activity often means that it will probably be perceived as ‘a good thing’ in many higher education institutions around the globe. For example, terms like ‘international’, ‘world leading’, or ‘internationally excellent’ are often used as signifiers of the quality of research in research assessments. This raises the issue of which, and importantly whose, definitions are being used to decide what ‘counts’ as ‘international’. In particular as the term is often used not to describe work which addresses more than one national setting, but rather to describe the alleged quality/excellence, and express (often subjective) views about its significance beyond national borders. Using one term—‘international’, as a kind of proxy signifier of another attribute of research—its ‘quality’—can be problematic given that determinations of what counts as internationally significant research take place in an international academic system that is characterised by power and resource asymmetries which delineate more or less explicit ‘cores and peripheries’ (Paasi, 2015). In general terms the ‘core’ has been defined as being the global ‘north west’ comprised of developed countries and particularly within this area the Anglophone university and publishing systems of countries such as the United States, the UK, and other countries where English is the lingua franca (Kunzmann, 2019) of academic work and exchanges.


8  Planning as an International Discipline

The debate about the dominance of ‘Western’ (North American, European, ‘Anglosphere’-based) journals over the international diffusion of academic work (Stiftel & Mukhopadhyay, 2007) and the impact this has on which research receives ‘international’ exposure is coming to the fore in a number of academic disciplines (Paasi, 2015). Yiftachel (2006) has analysed the membership of the editorial boards of six ‘leading’ planning journals, finding that 82.7% of those serving are from ‘AngloAmerican’ countries (including Canada and Australia), 12.8% are from ‘Europe’ (excluding the UK), and just over 4% from the global ‘South and East’ (including ‘border’ cases such as Israel, South Africa, and Singapore). He goes on to consider how such a distribution of ‘gatekeepers’ of knowledge may affect the relevance of what is published about planning to many regions of the world. Meanwhile in the UK some research assessment exercises have included few, if any, panel members from outside the UK or North American academic communities (Sykes et al., 2010; Punter & Campbell, 2009). As with the editorial boards studied by Yiftachel (2006), even the representation of academic authorities from other ‘global northwest’ societies (e.g. European countries) was often extremely limited. The issue of language is also significant. In English-speaking states the language of planning academia and practice will typically be English. However, elsewhere, as Kunzmann (2004) notes, even if English has often become the language for the ‘international’ reporting of research findings, in most cases the ‘language of practice ... remains the local language’. It has been argued that this may lead not only to an increase in the distance between academic debate and planning practice in some contexts but also to an imperviousness of nominally ‘international’ academic debates to enrichment with insight from planning experiences and ideas developed outside English language areas. In light of debates about gatekeepers and language barriers it is important to think critically about how research achieves or does not achieve international recognition (Healey & Upton, 2010), and whether this may not only be a question of its ‘excellence’ or ‘quality’ but subject to influence by other factors. There can be no assumption that excellent planning research will necessarily be disseminated in ‘leading international’ journals published in the English language. It may equally be diffused internationally through journals publishing in other languages - for example, those of the Spanish-, German-, Chinese-, Arabic-, or French-speaking etc.  academic and practice communities—and therefore be ‘internationally excellent’ and ‘recognised’. Henri Lefebvre’s influential work on Le Droit à la ville (the right to the city) (1968) and  La révolution urbaine (the urban revolution) (1970) (see Chaps. 3 and 6) was published first in French and also influential in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds, but only translated into English decades later (Demazière et al., 2018). All this being said, and as acknowledged by Kunzmann (2019), the fact that English functions in some settings and regions as a lingua franca certainly facilitates the international exchange and circulation of ideas about planning. The issue is perhaps to be aware of the possible consequences of the dominance of one language—and of some networks of international journals and knowledge ‘gatekeepers’—for potential participants’ access to many of the debates, and means of knowledge exchange, occurring internationally within planning practice and research.

An International Context for Planning Research


 lanning Research and the International ‘Theory-Practice Gap’: P Meeting the Challenge of Relevance The previous discussions reflect the importance of the—‘being open to all nations’ and ‘not belonging to a particular country’ dimensions of the international. In particular, this has implications for the relationship of planning research with planning practice, and its relevance to the material conditions of development and urbanisation in different places. The ‘core-periphery’ dynamics in the ‘international’ research system can become particularly problematic in a discipline such as planning, where there has traditionally been a concern to ensure that the best academic work is relevant to, and communicates with and derives insight from, practice. The perception of a ‘gap’ between academic and research domains of planning and the contextualised practice of planners working ‘on the ground’ has been shared by many practitioners and researchers and observed even within single national contexts—see Taylor and Hurley (2015) on Australia. As Allmendinger (2017, pp.  29–34) notes, ‘To bemoan the theory-­ practice gap is now de rigueur for any exploration of planning theory’. Narrow notions of research ‘quality’ or ‘rigour’ (Campbell, 2015) may also unintentionally favour a paucity of originality and underplay the crucial importance of ‘relevance’, context, and applicability in planning and wider social science research. Context and relevance are even more significant when viewed from an international perspective if notions of ‘research quality’, ‘international excellence’, or even ‘relevance’, are defined by the standards, interests, and biases of ‘the core’ or the ‘metropole’ (Watson, 2008; Paasi, 2015). The dominance of certain ‘western’ perspectives over planning discourse has been cited as one reason for a significant disjuncture between the research concerns and curricula of the ‘international’ planning academy and the realities of planning practice in many global settings. Though comparative planning studies have long emphasised the ‘context-dependency’ of planning, the question remains of whether the theories and techniques which are currently fashionable in the planning journals, schools, and systems of developed countries necessarily recognise this and relate well to, or work in practice, in different ‘world contexts’ (UN-HABITAT, 2009; Kunzmann & Yuan, 2014; Watson, 2008). One result of this may be a cleaving of the ‘Global and Local Worlds of Planning’, for as Kunzmann (2015, 2019, p. 6) points out, most planners need concepts and research to inform their work which are relevant to the ‘the challenges of their local or regional environments’. As Pessoaa et al. (2019, p. 73) remind us, the process of the world becoming ‘predominantly urban in the last decade … is not being led by traditional urban centres in Europe and Northern America, but by the extremely accelerated urbanisation processes within the emerging economies of the Global South’. Similarly, as Harris (2019, p. 186) notes, ‘the challenges of an urban planet will be resolved or lost in cities of the global south’. There is thus a potential mismatch between the geography and hierarchies of the globalised academic system and the concerns and research agendas of its ‘cores’ (Paasi, 2015) and ‘metropoles’ (Watson, 2008), and the loci of most of the ‘real world’ material processes of development, urbanisation


8  Planning as an International Discipline

and planning practice which are defining and constituting the ‘urban century’. For example, Yiftachel (2006) reflects on the applicability of models that have emerged as dominant paradigms in ‘Western’ debates on planning theory to the substantive challenges of practice in the global ‘South and East’. But the relevance of knowledge produced in the ‘core’ to global planning practice ‘beyond the core’ is not the only issue. As noted earlier, more developed countries may increasingly find relevance in the experience of less developed countries—for example, around the emergence of urban informality and new forms of participation and sustainable development. As a consequence ‘South–North’ as well as ‘South-South’ knowledge exchange is also increasingly relevant. These phenomena raise new questions and generate new concepts which can enrich enquiry in international planning studies.

 ethinking Planning in Light of International Contexts R and Experiences Perhaps one of the most exciting things about international planning studies is the scope it offers for new ideas to emerge, derived from both the materiality of what planning addresses—cities, urban development, environments, and so on (theory in planning)—and processes of plan making and practice (theory of planning) (Faludi, 1973) in different parts of the globe. Although such notions of distinct substantive and procedural components  in planning thought have been questioned (Allmendinger, 2002), it is fair to say that ‘planning scholarship and practice have overwhelmingly paid attention to matters of process in responding to diversity’ (Fincher & Iveson, 2008, p. 4). Some argue this has created a distance between the focus of the internationally dominant forms of planning scholarship and the material issues of planning and urban development—a distance which is arguably greater in some global regions than others. As an example of this, Harrison (2014, p. 65) notes how most ‘western’ planning theory has come to be ‘underpinned by an anti-realist ontology that has eroded its capacity to engage meaningfully with the materiality of space’. In a similar vein Yiftachel (2006, p. 213) notes how ‘Most theories emerging from the North-West have therefore concentrated on planners rather than planning, the latter standing for the broader arena of publicly guided transformation of space’. A consequence is that: The emphasis on planners and decision processes has left a particular void for those working in the diverse south-eastern settings where decision-making is generally less transparent and organized, and where public participation and deliberation efforts are often perceived as ‘lip service’ or forms of co-optation, in a more uncompromising development environment characterized by ‘creating facts on the ground’.

Yiftachel adds that ‘It is symptomatic, then, that despite repeated calls in the literature to ‘bring the city back’ ‘that ‘Most theorists who write in the leading journals have remained focused on decision-making and planners’ interaction with clients and power-brokers, thereby refraining from studying the messy interactions between planning policies, spaces and people’ (Yiftachel, 2006, p. 214). In many



ways this state of affairs can be seen as a product of some of the issues raised in the preceding sections. However, things have gradually started to change. For example, writing in 2014 (p. 69), Harrison notes that ‘One of the most important developments in planning theory over the past half-decade or so has been a partial shift to intellectual vantage points in the global South (or South-East as Yiftachel (2006) puts it)’. He goes on to identify two key strands to this, noting that ‘The ‘southwards turn’ has been framed by its reaction to the perceived shortcomings of theory from the north but also by a theoretical disposition that rejects state intent in favour of ‘transgressive politics’ and ‘insurgency’  ’ (Harrison, 2014, p.  69). Such evolutions have, for Harrison (2014, p. 71), ‘arguably brought planning theory closer to the materiality of space, and of everyday life, as theorists in the South have had to confront material threats and vulnerabilities on a scale generally not experienced in the North’. But there is also a need to avoid creating new universalisms (Harrison, 2014). As noted already, the Global South and East is where most of the urban development of the urban century will take place and where most urban lives will be lived. As a result, it is not only territorially vast and geographically, climatically, and economically diverse, but characterised by great societal and cultural variety which manifests in distinctive planning cultures. Harrison (2014, p. 71) therefore cautions that: ‘Southern theory’ is, however, not immune to the generalizations, stereotyping and universalizing tendencies its proponents accuse ‘northern theory’ of, and it is also fragmented by the epistemological divisions of planning theory more broadly.

This leads him to conclude that ‘we need to move beyond the North–South binary in planning theory’ and to hope that ‘the binary will gradually mutate into a more intricate understanding of the geography of thought that recognizes the complex mosaic within the so-called North and South, and also the permeability and interconnection across these categories’.

Summary This chapter has considered aspects of planning as an international discipline in relation to the three pillars of professional practice, planning education, and planning research. Key points to emerge include: There are some generally accepted components of what constitutes a profession. However, this does not mean that professions are constituted in exactly the same manner in different countries and global regions. Planning is a case in point as its degree of institutionalisation and ‘official’ professional status vary greatly from place to place. In some places it is a standalone profession, whereas in others much planning work is undertaken by other urban professionals and planning itself may be seen as a specialism of certain other built environment disciplines.


8  Planning as an International Discipline

The issue of professionalism is linked to that of codes and standards of ethical and ‘professional’ practice. Planning institutes in different countries have codes of practice and there are attempts to develop international standards too (Box 8.2). Although the issue of ethics is a key and complex aspect of professionalism—even in a single national context, international planning practice can create particular considerations, with different cultural, professional, political, and institutional settings existing around the globe where expectations and practices may be different. The global higher education system is becoming increasingly internationalised and there is a demand for planning knowledge and trained urban professionals, from both different scales of public bodies and the private sector. One long-running debate concerns whether planning can be taught according to a ‘universal’ curriculum, or whether teaching needs to be more tailored to specific circumstances. In general today there is an acceptance that a rounded planning education should contain elements of both and adopt a ‘one world’ approach which prepares students for practice in different specific contexts, but also allows for insights and experience from other contexts to inform and inspire the teaching of planning educators and learning of future planners. Internationalisation and claims about the international relevance and quality of academic work are key features of the research field in planning and other disciplines. Often notions of international rigour and excellence are elided with the quality of research. There are also capacity and power asymmetries in the international academic system and issues such as the dominance of certain regions and languages, which generate issues relating to how the quality and relevance of research is perceived. This is a particular issue for disciplines like planning in which the relationship between research, theory, and practice is particularly important. Certainly, in the context of trends towards dominance of the ‘international’ field of planning research by western (and notably Anglo-US) researchers and journals, there is a need to think about how effectively the ostensibly ‘international’ planning academy functions in building shared planning knowledge and delivering professional learning, ‘in and for all nations’. The issues previously noted are particularly important in the contemporary context given that most development and urbanisation in the present century is occurring away from the ‘traditional’ centres of urban development and academic knowledge production around planning. The evolutions of concepts in planning, and the very definition of the activity, are thus increasingly being moulded by the material realities of development and places, and planning practices, in regions of the Global South and East. The great diversity of contexts and planning practices and cultures in such areas should also be recognised, as should the potential for these to inform how planning is conceived and practised, including in the Global North. The following exercises are designed to help you to reflect on the themes covered in this chapter.



Exercise 8.1  Becoming a ‘Critical’ Student of Planning in an International Context

For prospective or current planning students: • How internationalised is the curriculum where I study, or will study? • How transportable are the skills I am acquiring, or shall acquire? • How recognised is the qualification I will gain in other places? • Am I considering all the options? (Study in different global regions? What are the  alternatives? How relevant will the programme I study be to the planning contexts in which I may later work?) For students considering study abroad: • What might I gain by studying planning in another country? • Is my choice influenced by others (peers; parents; agents) with the correct knowledge to advise me? • Will the programme I am studying prepare me for practice in my ‘home’ country? • Is it better to follow a planning education in one’s ‘home’ context first (cf. Foreign Culture model, see Chap. 4)?

Exercise 8.2  Considering Planning Research: ‘Open to’ and ‘Belonging to All Countries’?

Individually, or with colleagues, select up to five to ten international peer reviewed journals in the planning field and review them in light of the following questions: • What is the geographical spread of the members of the editorial board by country or ‘global region’ (see Yiftachel, 2006 for reporting of a similar exercise)? • What is the geographical coverage of the articles in the journal? Which global regions and countries do they relate to? • What is/are the national and/or cultural origin(s) of the authors of articles? • As far as you can tell, how many of the authors seem likely to be writing in a second, or even third, fourth, or other, language? (This is not always easy to tell given the mobility of persons and academics,  so may require an educated guess.) • Looking at the references in the articles, how diverse is the spread of sources cited? For example, geographically, and/ or in linguistic terms (e.g. how many non-English language sources are cited?). • Do the articles make a new contribution as far as you are aware? For example, is there to your knowledge work already available in another language which predates, or anticipates, their arguments and findings? • How ‘internationally’ relevant do you think the articles will be, both to planning researchers and planning theory, and perhaps other disciplines, and to planning practice and practitioners?


8  Planning as an International Discipline

References Allmendinger, P. (2002). Towards a post-positivist typology of planning theory. Planning Theory, 1(1), 77–99. Allmendinger, P. (2017). Planning theory. Macmillan International Higher Education. Alterman, R. (2017). From a minor to a major profession: Can planning and planning theory meet the challenges of globalisation. Transactions of the Association of European Schools of Planning, 1(1), 1–17. Burayidi, M. A. (1993). Dualism and universalism: Competing paradigms in planning education? Journal of Planning Education and Research, 12(3), 223–229. 7/0739456X9301200306 Campbell, H. (2015). It takes more than just looking to make a difference: The challenge for planning research. In E. A. Silva, P. Healey, & N. Harris (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of planning research methods (pp. 24–32). Routledge. Campbell, H., & Marshall, R. (2005). The changing conception of professionalism in planning. Town Planning Review, 76(2), 191–214. Chakravarty, S., & Qamhaieh, A. (2019). Planning the mirage: Lessons for planning education from Abu Dhabi. Transactions of the Association of European Schools of Planning, 3(1), 23–36. Conley, V. A. (2012). Spatial ecologies - Urban sites, state and world-space in French cultural theory. Liverpool University Press. Davoudi, S. (2012). Resilience: A bridging concept or a dead end? Planning Theory and Practice, 13(2), 299–333. Demazière, C.  Erdi, G., Galhardo, J., & Gaudin, O. (2018). 50 ans après : actualités du droit à la ville d’Henri Lefebvre. Retrieved from­ans-­apres-­ actualites-­du-­droit-­a-­la-­ville-­d-­Henri-­Lefebvre.html Faludi, A. (1973). The “systems view” and planning theory. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, 7(1), 67–77. Fincher, R., & Iveson, K. (2008). Planning and diversity in the city: Redistribution, recognition and encounter. Macmillan International Higher Education. Frank, A. (2019). Enhancing internationalisation through inter-institutional collaboration: Innovative practices in planning education. Transactions of the Association of European Schools of Planning, 3(1), 7–22. Goldstein, H.  A., & Carmin, J. (2006). Compact, diffuse, or would-be discipline? Assessing cohesion in planning scholarship, 1963-2002. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 26(1), 66–79. Grosfoguel, R. (2011). Decolonizing post-colonial studies and paradigms of political-economy: Transmodernity decolonial thinking and global coloniality. TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, 1(1). T411000004 Harris, N. (2019). Exceptional spaces for sustainable living: The regulation of one planet developments in the open countryside. Planning Theory & Practice, 20(1), 11–36. Harrison, P. (2014). Making planning theory real. Planning Theory, 13(1), 65–81. Healey, P., & Upton, R. (Eds.). (2010). Crossing borders: International exchange and planning practices. Routledge. Heleta, S. (2016). Decolonisation of higher education: Dismantling epistemic violence and Eurocentrism in South Africa. Transformation in Higher Education, 1(1), 1–8. IESC. (2021). International Ethics Standards: An ethical framework for the global property market. IESC. Kunzmann, K. R. (2004). Culture, creativity and spatial planning. Town Planning Review, 75(4), 383–404. Kunzmann, K.  R. (2015). The state of the art of planning and planning education in Asia, disP. disP - The Planning Review, 51(4), 42–51.



Kunzmann, K.  R. (2019). Why not Italian? Differences matter! A comment on Ben Davy’s viewpoint in TPR on ‘Thoughts on internationalism and planning’. Town Planning Review, 90(1), 3–9. Kunzmann, K.  R., & Yuan, L. (2014). Educating planners from China in Europe. disp  – The Planning Review, 50(4), 66–70. Lambert, H. (2019, August 21). The great university con: How the British degree lost its value. The New Statesman. Le Grange, L. (2016). Decolonising the university curriculum: Leading article. South African Journal of Higher Education, 30(2), 1–12. Lefebvre, H. (1968). Le Droit à la ville [The right to the city] (2nd ed.). Anthropos. Leigh, N. G., French, S. P., Guhathakurta, S., & Stiftel, B. (Eds.). (2019). The Routledge handbook of international planning education. Routledge. Muldoon, J. (2019, March 20). Academics: It’s time to get behind decolonising the curriculum. The Guardian. Retrieved from Paasi, A. (2015). “Hot spots, dark-side dots, tin pots”: The uneven internationalism of the global academic market. In Geographies of knowledge and power (pp. 247–262). Springer. Pallagst, K., Mulligan, H., Cunningham-Sabot, E., & Fol, S. (2017). The shrinking city awakens: Perceptions and strategies on the way to revitalisation? The Town Planning Review, 88(1), 9. Pessoaa, I. M., Vergarab, L. M., Altesc, W. K., & Roccod, R. (2019). Rethinking planning education using massive open online courses: The case of rethink the City. Transactions of the Association of European Schools of Planning, 3(1), 72–84. Punter, J., & Campbell, H. (2009). Reflections on the 2008 United Kingdom research assessment exercise for town and country planning and closely associated disciplines. Town Planning Review, 80, 31–55. Radcliffe, S. A. (2017). Decolonising geographical knowledges. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 42(3), 329–333. Sandercock, L. (1998). Making the invisible visible. University of California Press. Sanyal, B. (1990). Large commitments to large objectives: Planning education for the twenty-first century. In B. Sanyal (Ed.), Breaking the boundaries: A one-world approach to planning education (pp. 17–55). Springer. Schon, D. A. (1982). Some of what a planner knows a case study of knowing-in-practice. Journal of the American Planning Association, 48(3), 351–364. Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Basic Books. Sintomer, Y., Herzberg, C., & Röcke, A. (2008). From Porto Alegre to Europe: Potentials and limitations of participatory budgeting. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32(1), 164–178. Smith, M. K. (2011). ‘Donald Schön: Learning, reflection and change’, the encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from­schon-­learning-­reflection-­change Stiftel, B., & Mukhopadhyay, C. (2007). Thoughts on Anglo-American hegemony in planning scholarship: Do we read each other’s work? Town Planning Review, 78(5), 545–572. Sundaresan, J. (2019). Urban planning in vernacular governance: Land use planning and violations in Bangalore India. Progress in Planning, 1271–1223. S0305900616301441. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.progress.2017.10.001 Sykes, O. J., Lord, A., & Jha-Thakur, U. (2010). Planning in a world container. Town and Country Planning, 2010, 47–51. Sykes, O., Jha-Thakur, U., & Potter, P. (2015). “What’s Love got to do with it?” Some reflections on the internationalization of planning education. AESOP Planning Education, 3, 80–89. Taylor, E. J., & Hurley, J. (2015). “Not a lot of people read the stuff”: Australian urban research in planning practice. Urban Policy and Research, 34(2), 1–16. UN-Habitat. (2009). Planning sustainable cities. UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). Earthscan. UN-Habitat. (2015). International guidelines on urban and territorial planning. Nairobi: UN Human Settlements Programme.


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UN-Habitat. (2017). New urban agenda. UN-Habitat. Retrieved from ­ about-us/new-urban-agenda Watson, V. (2008). Down to earth: Linking planning theory and practice in the ‘metropole’ and beyond. International Planning Studies, 13(3), 223–237. Watson, V. (2009). Seeing from the south: Refocusing urban planning on the globe’s central urban issues. Urban Studies, 46(11), 2259–2275. Wesely, J., & Allen, A. (2019). De-colonising planning education? Exploring the geographies of urban planning education networks. Urban Planning, 4(4), 139–151. Yiftachel, O. (2006). Essay: Re-engaging planning theory? Towards ‘south-eastern’ perspectives. Planning Theory, 5(3), 211–222.



Introduction This chapter reflects on the themes which have been covered in the book and offers some final thoughts on the context for, and future prospects of, international planning studies. Firstly, four questions are reviewed as a means of summarising and taking stock of the main findings and arguments covered in the preceding chapters. Secondly, the chapter takes a ‘step back’ and places international planning studies into their contemporary context. Finally, there is a reflection on the future prospects for planning and international planning studies as planning, and the various international contexts and agendas discussed in the book, continue to evolve.

International Planning Studies? This section revisits the themes covered in the book around the value of undertaking international planning studies.

Why Undertake International Planning Studies? Throughout this book we have explored the purposes and potential benefits of considering the international context for planning practice and undertaking international study of planning systems, policies, and outcomes. We have explored how planning ideas have travelled and transformed, and influence current ways of working. In doing so we have identified some of the policy, legal, and cultural traditions that inform planning practice and enable, and sometimes constrain, practice as planners seek to influence the built environment. We have seen how through international planning studies we can learn from both the positive and negative historical and contemporary planning experiences of different places in order to inform planning practices in other contexts. Through this critical reflection we have the © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 O. Sykes et al., International Planning Studies, Planning, Environment, Cities,



9 Conclusion

opportunity to innovate and influence the planning systems with which we are most familiar as practitioners and students, as well as to recognise and perhaps address any of their less successful aspects. International planning studies therefore allow us to become more open to the planning experiences of different parts of the world, to, in Healey’s (2010, p.  19) words, ‘cultivate critical exchange and debate through which crude hegemonies can be challenged’. For Healey: Not only will this help to unravel the constraints that the hegemony of Western ideas has placed on our thinking about the nature, purpose and method of planning, it should also contribute to an internal renewal of planning debate in the ‘old heartlands’ of planning ideas in North America and Europe. (2010, p. 19)

International planning studies therefore can contribute to planners, exploring the variegated landscape of planning practice so as to break out of current conceptions of why and how things are done. They also reveal that there is not necessarily a ‘best’ way to undertake a given planning task, but, rather, a rich multitude of means to achieve a given end. In sum, international planning studies provide a kind of kaleidoscopic lens through which we can view and challenge our own positionality so as to expand how we think about and practice planning.

 hat Are the Opportunities and Challenges of International W Planning Studies? International planning studies allows us to trace the development of planning policy, identify the actors involved in its creation, and gain an understanding of why, and for whose benefit, a particular policy might have been created. This understanding of power and practice in a global context can equip planners to defend and challenge policies as well as protect and plan for their own local communities. Yet, it also offers the chance to marry novel planning practice from one context to another and in so doing create new planning innovations that address particular social, economic, or environmental challenges present in the planning contexts we are most familiar with. It is important to acknowledge, however, the complexities, and often the difficulties, of undertaking international and comparative planning research, and accomplishing appropriate policy transfer. Although they can be rich and generate new insights, a degree of caution is also warranted when engaging with international planning studies. In exploring concepts and research methods and strategies which can help develop accounts and interpretations of how planning works in different places, we have sought to note the potential pitfalls to be addressed in exploring the interface(s) between global and local planning practices. We highlighted the importance of language and how interpretations of planning interventions may differ depending on the cultural and linguistic characteristics of places. It is important to engage with such issues, notably given the great potential of international planning studies to explore the informal cultural practices of planning, and unpack the ‘taken-for-granted’ principles and routines of planners in different settings.

International Planning Studies?


Another key issue in international planning studies, especially if any comparative work is to be contemplated, is to be clear about what is meant by ‘planning’ in different contexts. Though this book essentially addresses spatial/urban/territorial planning systems, other forms of planning and policymaking—‘systems of planning’ perhaps, as opposed to classically defined ‘planning systems’—cannot be ignored; even if they often operate separately, and at times in competition with ‘planning’ as it is defined in various international contexts. The reality is that other interests, stakeholders, and policy systems pursue and implement agendas with territorial impacts. Key examples might include state-led economic development planning, and the activities of private and civil actors—for example, the investments of major real estate companies, or creation of informal dwellings and settlements. Thus, when working and looking across borders there is a need to be mindful of how different interpretations of planning are manifested in practice, through both formal and informal mechanisms. In many cases these differences are the result of long-embedded institutional and informal norms. This path-dependency locks planning systems into particular ways of doing things and, in turn, influences the way in which planners undertake their daily tasks. This may complicate the introduction of planning innovations, or lead to issues when external planners seek to influence ways of working. However, if the kinds of issues discussed above are taken into account, ‘Learning from Other Countries’ (Masser and Williams, 1986) if ‘done with a critical imagination, is good for us all’ (Healey, 2010, p. 19).

I f Context Is So Important Are There Any Universal or Transferable Lessons That Can Be Derived from International Planning Studies? Reflecting the themes explored previously, a question which might legitimately be asked of international planning studies is how can lessons be meaningfully drawn from undertaking the study of planning systems, policies, and practices in diverse national and international contexts, notably if the goal is to be appropriate, lesson-­ drawing, and potential policy transfer? While we have identified that there has been a recent ‘blurring’ between general planning studies and international planning studies, we have also considered how certain concepts and research approaches lend themselves to exploring planning from an international perspective. These might, for example, help us to investigate global planning issues and practices, the applicability of international policies to local contexts, and how different societies and their planning systems address particular contemporary planning challenges. In order to gain the most out of an international planning study we must carefully consider the research design, the similarity and ‘discreteness of focus’ of the policy issue or planning problem to be explored, and where comparative work is to be undertaken, the ‘symmetry’ of the research and any limitations, in terms of linguistic, or cultural understanding, of the places being researched. Linked to this is the need to appreciate the multi-scalar differences in planning practice  that exist in varied contexts and the ways in which these influence the generalisability of any


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study. Through careful construction and analysis of case studies we can address many of the above-noted issues. Quantitative and qualitative methods and data, including statistics, documentary analysis, interviews, questionnaires, observations, and ethnography, can be deployed in international planning studies to develop understandings of context and generate insights into planning practice in different places. On the subject of comparison, it is worth recalling too that, whilst international planning studies often do involve comparison of planning in different places, they are not always comparative. International planning studies also aim at examining how planning in different places seeks to address shared global challenges, such as climate change, migration, and poverty, often as these become manifest as local problems and in local responses. Such challenges are often identified by global and transnational institutions and in statements like the New Urban Agenda (NUA) as requiring collaboration across boundaries for their resolution and this may lead to a quest to find generalisable knowledge and solutions. International planning studies can help uncover and emphasise the fact that there are variations in the ability of localities to address these agendas, and therefore, there is a need to be sensitive to the skills and resources at the disposal of local or national governments. So, whilst there are some common planning challenges at different scales, and these can be a rich avenue of investigation in international planning studies, the generation of universal general, or transferable, lessons and planning approaches is rendered difficult by the influence of context-dependency. The notion of ‘contingent universals’ invoked by Healey (2012) and Stiftel (2021) and discussed in Chap. 6 recognises this, suggesting that ‘analysts and practitioners avoid the traps of over-localizing and of over-­generalizing’ (Healey, 2012, p. 202). The issues above relate to the question of whether there is a growing convergence of spatial planning practices in the face of common global planning challenges. The discussions in this book and the wider field conclude that narrow convergence in the strictest sense is unlikely due to the influence of context-­dependency. However, the global sharing of planning knowledge can facilitate new forms of planning practice that, when undertaken with a contextual awareness, can create appropriate policies and practices. As individuals and institutions acquire international planning knowledge and experience, there is the potential for planning strategies and decisionmaking approaches to evolve which—informed by this knowledge and experience and the ‘contingent universals’ alluded to above—pertinently address context-specific spatial circumstances, opportunities, and challenges.

Is There a Theory–Practice Gap in International Planning Studies? The book has not shied away from critiquing aspects of the internationalisation of planning and identifying the contradictions and challenges it can pose for the planning discipline and its practitioners, students, and educators. Yet, even if the world and those who make it are not perfect, and acquiring knowledge of this state of

The Contemporary Context for International Planning Studies


affairs is a legitimate scholarly goal, this is not really ‘enough’ for those called to the planning vocation. The book thus aims to reflect Campbell’s position that ‘it takes more than just make a difference’ and her view that we must not lose ‘the essence of the understandings which come from being a planning researcher’ (2015, p. 31). The domination of academic discourse by certain global regions can influence how far the theories which become fashionable in planning and related disciplines address the material realities of cities and development in other global settings. Planning practice, scholarship, and learning needs to engage with these issues to avoid the widening of gaps between the concerns of theorists and scholars who justifiably seek to understand and critique the practice and outcomes of planning, and the actions of those like planners, civil society actors, and urban activists who are working often in difficult conditions to ameliorate conditions on the ground in the face of rapid change and often unprecedented urbanisation. The interplay between knowledge and action in planning therefore requires ‘sensitivity to the ethical dimensions of knowledge production and use’ (Silva et al., 2015, p. xxvi). When engaging in international planning studies there is a particular need to be aware of diverse contexts and the potential ethical dimensions of critiquing those whose practices and interventions, no matter how imperfect and compromised by structural forces, still represent an attempt at collective action in the face of pressing ecological, societal, and economic challenges. This book therefore has tried to offer more than description and academic critique. It has sought ‘to harness the clarity of understanding that results from appreciating that it is not just looking that is important’, accepting ‘that intellectual and practical insights lie at the interplay between knowledge and action’ (Campbell, 2015, p. 31), and that planning knowledge and action always evolve through practice and in context.

The Contemporary Context for International Planning Studies In some respects, the present period could be seen as an inauspicious time to produce a book which introduces the subject of international planning studies! These certainly are challenging times for internationalism and those with an internationalist view of the world. In many countries the past decade has seen a backlash against the perceived effects of internationalisation on economies and societies with politicians promoting inward-looking and insular political visions and policies. Populist and some traditional ‘mainstream’ politicians and movements have sought to capitalise on what they feel is the mood of the moment by offering nativist ‘our people first’ programmes. These often promote more restrictions on immigration, and promote economic nationalism with protectionist policies which seek to erect barriers to trade—with unpredictable consequences including possible trade disputes. Sadly, many parts of the world are still marked too by geopolitical tensions, armed conflict, and other forms of violence. These result in tragic losses of human life, displacement of peoples, and severe damage to built and natural environments, with vast cultural, ecological, and economic impacts.


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Rising to global challenges around social equality (whether by gender, race, religion, sexuality, or other characteristic) and environmental issues like climate change and biodiversity loss is surely made more difficult by these circumstances. The idea of ‘multilateralism’ is seemingly being undermined including in some of the very states which sought to promote it from the mid-twentieth century onwards as a way of recognising a ‘global commons’ and ensuring different nations worked together to address matters in an international public interest. The disparagement of professional and expert counsel is also a feature of various strands of ‘national populism’ (Eatwell and Goodwin, 2018) and ‘libertarian’ lobbies. This raises further questions about the role of professionals like planners in addressing issues of societal concern. The ‘planning project’ has often presented itself as standing for progressive values, and today, across scales from the global to diverse local settings, planning action is typically justified as achieving goals of sustainable and resilient development. In substantive terms the aspiration is to foster transformation which, ideally balances, and where necessary mitigates, environmental, social, economic, and cultural benefits and the  impacts of development. Meanwhile procedurally, over recent decades planning theory and research has emphasised the importance of inclusion and participation in planning, arguing that planning needs to be open to many truths and serve diverse interests and goals (Healey, 2006, Sandercock, 1998). Such aspirations are often challenging to meet in practice even in contexts where institutional frameworks and political power ostensibly support them. In other contexts where some of the key tenets of sustainability and inclusiveness doctrines are not just ignored, but may be actively rejected and undermined by powerful interests, such goals can be even more difficult to achieve. A further issue for professionals in some contexts is how to cope with pressure to serve agendas which might be at odds with the progressive values that planning often claims to serve—there is after all historical precedent for planning failing to uphold these (Beebeejaun, 2021). Another conceptual backdrop to international studies is the normative distinction which may be made between internationalisation and internationalism. The former is often associated with the process of globalisation and the emergence of global markets and flows of capitalist accumulation. Meanwhile, the latter may imply a broader ethical stance which is open to, and concerned about, other peoples and places, and may conceive of a global ‘common interest’ (e.g. around issues like climate change and resource depletion, and human progress and flourishing). Some argue that the processes of turning inward that are observable currently in some societies are a reaction to the effects that increased internationalisation of societies and economies has had on certain people and places and indeed environments. This is why, in some places, hostility to internationalisation may unite opinion from across the political spectrum—for example, from the nationalist and nativist ‘right’ to the traditionally more socially concerned ‘left’. Such alliances are behind the rise of populist movements in some countries in the developed and emerging worlds. Ironically, despite the argument that these are driven by those ‘left behind’ by globalisation, in a western developed context at least they are driven primarily by an older and more affluent voter demographic (Dorling, 2016; Carnes and Lupu, 2017)

The Prospects for Planning and International Planning Studies


and political campaigns funded and led by a cast of archetypal (often extremely wealthy) ‘globalisers’. It is arguable too that viewed from a more international perspective the talk of crisis in developed countries may appear rather different and raises some troubling questions. For example, how may the many millions on planet Earth who still live without basic necessities such as clean and potable water and a reliable energy supply—things which are taken for granted in developed countries—view such debates? There are still glaring inequalities between different nations and global regions— for example, between Europe and North America and their neighbouring regions. These, and armed conflicts, are drivers of migrant flows as people strive to reach more peaceful and developed regions in search of a better life often undertaking perilous journeys with tragic consequences. They also shape domestic political agendas as in the case of the proposal under the US Presidency of Donald Trump (2017–2021) to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and have local development consequences, such as the emergence of urban informality in the form of migrant camps in certain European countries. Armed conflict also continues to lead to destruction of urban environments and displacement of peoples, and planners in some parts of the globe must anticipate and plan for post-conflict reconstruction often in very challenging circumstances.

The Prospects for Planning and International Planning Studies Having read the previous section the reader may well be asking, ‘So, what has all this to do with planning then?’ The answer is ‘rather a lot!’ To help shape it, planners need to be aware of the world in which they live and work. That world shapes the issues and challenges that planning is called upon to address, the policies and actions that it is expected to pursue in response, and the knowledges and skills that planners require. As noted in Chap. 3, Faludi (2018) has written of what he terms—with reference to Karl Popper’s notion of the Poverty of Historicism—the Poverty of Territorialism. This is the belief that individual geographical spaces can be regarded as separate independent territorial boxes over which one ‘sovereign’ power rules with no need to have regard to other territories and inter-territorial flows and linkages. This is a view powerfully associated with the ‘state territorialism’ which emerged strongly from the seventeenth century onwards and reached its apogee in some parts of the globe from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries with the emergence of the modern industrial ‘nation’ state. However, Faludi argues this is a restrictive and unrealistic view of how the world works today, though it is a vision of the world that the nativist and populist movements outlined earlier in this chapter often seem to wish to return to. As an alternative image, Faludi advances the view of states as islands in an archipelago where there is a clear distinction between the different territories, but no island can turn its back on its relations with the sea or other islands. What is true of states is also true of planning and planners. Just because issues associated with the ‘international’ can be complex and feel remote from the


9 Conclusion

everyday concerns of many working in planning, this does not mean that they can be ignored. Being conversant with the international dimensions of planning develops understanding of the contexts in which planning operates  including our own planning contexts. This also involves engaging, not just beyond territorial boundaries, but with multidisciplinary, or ‘intersectional’, perspectives, and working with other professions and stakeholders to deliver new sustainability and urban agendas (Reyes et al., 2020). The salience of international planning studies is also heightened by initiatives like the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (notably SDG 11 on Sustainable and resilient cities) and the NUA which are placing very high expectations on planning and the planning profession. These provide an opportunity for planning to demonstrate its value across a range of international contexts and scales, though—as well illustrated by the history of planning—great expectations often come with attendant risks and challenges. Watson (2016, p. 447) thus observes that ‘Helping to shape cities to be more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable is exactly what planning should be doing, but it can only do this within institutional and implementational frameworks appropriate both in time and in place’ and she  cautions that in this respect the NUA ‘falls badly short with the danger that this will torpedo not only the vision of Goal 11 but also the profession of planning’ (p. 447). Others have argued that ‘Too often national and local governments and professional planners are using yesterday’s mind-sets and practices rather than connecting to the globally agreed outcomes that planning needs to deliver in this generation’ (Hague et  al., 2018, p. 6). This matters because if the results of planning do not live up to expectations, the performance and value of planning and planners may be called into question as they frequently have been in different national contexts over recent decades—even if institutional and political constraints beyond their control may have played a large role in suboptimal planning and development outcomes. Even if the focus of much planning work is likely to remain largely on the local, metropolitan, regional, and (in some cases) the nation state scale, there are also a variety of kinds of planning work which explicitly engage the ‘international’. Planning practice may serve internationalisation with an economic goal—for example, private planning consultancies might work adapting a successful shopping centre design for a client in a different country, or provide expertise to states, or regions, developing their planning systems. There can also be an internationalist motivation to international planning work which seeks to ameliorate development and environmental conditions in other parts of the world. For example, planners work for environmental or socially focussed NGOs and UN agencies. We should remember too that the two motivations are not always mutually exclusive and planning activity driven by internationalisation may also still be imbued with an internationalist spirit. Planning, in aspiring to make the world ‘other than it would otherwise be without planning’ (Taylor, 1998, p. 167), shares with many international cooperation initiatives the hope of ‘overcoming’ negative tendencies and cycles—for example, those  towards international conflict, and  environmental, and social degradationand  working to ameliorate the conditions for sustainable  development and human  flourishing. The seventeenth-century English poet and cleric John Donne



wrote that ‘No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main’. In an interconnected and co-dependent world, we are all, as Donne put it, ‘involved in mankind’. When it comes to the considerable challenges which the planet and humanity face in planning for sustainability and resilience against the backdrop of the climate crisis and sadly often strained international relations, in Donne’s words, when ‘the bell tolls’, it tolls for us all.

References Alejandra, Reyes Ariadna, Reyes Caroline, Daigle (2020) Looking Back to Look Forward: Evolution of the Habitat Agenda and Prospects for Implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Current Urban Studies 08(02) 337-363 10.4236/cus.2020.82019 Beebeejaun, Y. (2021). Provincializing planning: Reflections on spatial ordering and imperial power. Planning Theory, 21(3), 248–268. Campbell, H. (2015). It takes more than just looking to make a difference; the challenge for planning research. In E. A. Silva, P. Healey, N. Harris, & P. Van den Broeck (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of planning research methods (pp. 24–32). Routledge. Carnes, N., & Lupu, N. (2017, June 5). It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class. Washington Post.­cage/ wp/2017/06/05/its-­time-­to-­bust-­the-­myth-­most-­trump-­voters-­were-­not-­working-­class/ Dorling, D. (2016). Brexit: The decision of a divided country. BMJ, 354, i3697. https://doi. org/10.1136/bmj.i3697 Eatwell, R., & Goodwin, M. (2018). National populism: The revolt against liberal democracy. Pelican. Faludi, A. (2018). The poverty of territorialism: Neo-medieval view of Europe and European planning. Edward Elgar. Hague, C., Platt, C., Taylor, P., Tuts, R., Narang Suri, S., & Sietchiping, R. (2018). Leading change – Delivering the New Urban Agenda through Urban and territorial planning. Kuala Lumpur. Healey, P. (2006). Collaborative planning  - Shaping places in fragmented societies (2nd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. Healey, P. (2010). Making better places: The Planning project in the twenty-first century. Macmillan International Higher Education. Masser, I., & Williams, R. H. (1986). Learning from other Countries. Geo- Books. Patsy, Healey (2012). The universal and the contingent: Some reflections on the transnational flow of planning ideas and practices. Planning Theory 11(2) 188-207 10.1177/1473095211419333 Sandercock, L. (1998). Towards Cosmopolis: Planning for multicultural cities. John Wiley. Silva, E. A., Healey, P., Harris, N., & Van den Broeck, P. (Eds.). (2015). The Routledge Handbook of planning research methods. Routledge. Stiftel, B. (2021). Planners and the new urban agenda: Will we lead the agenda, or will the agenda lead us? Town Planning Review, 92(04), 421–441. Taylor, N. (1998). Urban planning theory since 1945. Sage. Watson, V. (2016). Locating planning in the New Urban Agenda of the urban sustainable development goal. Planning Theory., 15(4), 435–448.


A Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-­ Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (1998), 216 Abu Dhabi, 34–36 Access to settings, 106, 107 Addis Ababa, 145, 146 Administrative and legal systems, 117, 120, 149 Africa, 14, 27, 54, 59, 66, 69, 142, 151, 172, 176, 182, 226, 235, 251 African Urban Fantasies, 69 Air pollution, 170 Air quality, 139, 165, 214 Amman, 66 Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (World Heritage Site), 176 ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy (ASUS), 223–225 Asian Planning Schools Association (APSA), 252 Asociación Latinoamericana de Escuelas de Urbanismo y Planeación (ALEUP), 252 Assemblage, 64, 148 Associação Nacional de Pós-graduação e Pesquisa em Planejamento Urbano e Regional (ANPUR), 252 Association of African Planning Schools (AAPS), 252 Association of Canadian University Planning Programs (ACUPP), 252 Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), 252 Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP), 248–249, 252 Association of Planning Schools of Turkey (TUPOB), 252

Association of Schools of Planning in Indonesia (ASPI), 252 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), 48, 222–225, 235 Association pour la Promotion de l’Enseignement et de la Recherche en Aménagement et Urbanisme (APERAU), 252 Athens Charter (1943), 158 Australia, 31, 122, 127, 128, 254, 255 Australian and New Zealand Association of Planning Schools (ANZAPS), 252 B Baltic Sea, 220 Baltic Sea Region, 208, 220 Baltimore, 35, 36, 65 Bangalore, 148 Bangladesh, 226 Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Corridor, 226 Barcelona, 65, 96 Belgium, 119, 198, 205 Bestemmingsplan, 129, 139 Best practice, 24, 34, 68, 70, 157, 160, 189, 190, 215, 225 Birds Directive (EU), 216 Blanc-Mesnil, 31 Borrowed/borrowing, 16, 25, 27, 29–31, 34, 36, 38, 63, 64 Brazil, 66, 144, 162, 250 Britain, 29, 31, 32, 96, 124 British Empire, 26, 31 Brundtland Commission (1987), 62, 161 Brunei Darussalam, 222 Brussels, 205 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), 68

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2023 O. Sykes et al., International Planning Studies, Planning, Environment, Cities,


274 C Cairo, 60 Cambodia, 222 Canada, 66, 227 Canada-US border, 203 Canberra, 31 Cascadia corridor, 227 Cascadia Innovation Corridor (CIC), 203, 213 Case study/studies, 16, 36, 85, 87, 96–98, 100, 101, 145, 191, 266 Characterising planning systems, 113–152 Children, 110, 165, 170, 181 China, 13, 28, 55, 57, 66, 123, 124, 129, 174, 225–227, 248 China–Central Asia–West Asia Corridor, 226 China–Indochina Peninsula Corridor, 226 China–Mongolia–Russia Corridor, 226 China–Pakistan Corridor, 226 City Beautiful Movement, 6 Ciudad Juárez, 201, 203 Civil society organisations (CSOs), 130, 173, 176, 178, 182 Climate change, 1, 3–5, 7, 11, 17, 23, 33, 36, 37, 45, 46, 62, 114, 115, 121, 122, 152, 162, 164, 166, 168, 170–173, 178, 180, 197, 223, 235, 250, 266, 268 Cohesion Policy (EU), 207, 208, 215 Cold War, 33, 222 Colombia, 145 Colombo, 227 Colonial, 1, 4, 16, 22, 23, 25–27, 29, 33, 34, 54, 66, 144, 147, 232, 251, 252 Colonialism, 1, 16, 23, 25–28, 38, 43, 47, 251 Columbia, 68 Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), 142 Comparative study, 55, 72, 73, 87–89, 91, 92, 96, 99 Compare cities, 91, 171 Conférence du Conseil de l’Europe des ministres responsables de l’aménagement du territoire (CEMAT, the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning), 213, 215 Congestion, 7, 29, 166, 223 Congrès internationaux d’architecture moderne (CIAM, International Congress of Modern Architecture), 158 Context-dependent/dependency, 6, 7, 15, 25, 37, 56, 61, 69–71, 78, 88, 97, 107, 120, 130, 188, 199, 244, 255, 266 Convergence, 16, 24, 38, 55, 61–69, 73, 74, 77, 86, 96, 120, 134, 153, 190, 266

Index Corridor development, 227–231 Council of Europe, 215 Critical cases, 98 Cross-border cooperation (CBC), 200–207, 209–211, 234 Cross-border flows, 197, 205 Cross-national, 1, 9, 52, 74, 86–88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 96, 98, 99, 149, 158, 224 Cultural heritage, 7 Curitiba, 96 D Decolonising/decolonisation, 27, 33, 37, 251–253 Denmark, 214 Depopulation, 5 Derry/Londonderry, 210 Desertification, 5 Detroit, 53 Developed countries, 5, 13, 15, 45, 47, 53, 92, 142, 166, 169, 190, 244, 249, 250, 253, 255, 256, 269 Developmental states, 58 Diffusion, 16, 23–25, 27, 36–39, 49, 63, 96, 157, 158, 160, 173, 219, 232, 254 Discretionary planning systems, 134, 136, 139–141 Displaced persons, 13, 170 Documentary analysis, 86, 101–102, 266 Dresden, 176 Dubai, 34, 69 Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor, 210, 211 Duisburg, 227 Dutch-German border, 207 E Economic development, 5, 6, 10, 15, 49, 57, 58, 62, 123, 148, 197, 200, 203, 207, 213, 228, 229, 265 Ecosystem services, 171 Egypt, 55, 60, 172 Elbe Valley (World Heritage Site), 176 El Paso, 201, 203 England, 30, 31, 73, 92, 94, 95, 100, 114, 117, 129, 139–141, 143, 175, 218 Enterprise Zones, 139 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), 102, 122, 126, 130, 160, 210, 215 ESI Funds, 216 Ethics, 103, 107–109, 242–244, 258 Ethiopia, 145, 147, 172 Ethnography, 104–106, 266

Index EU Compendium of Spatial Planning Systems and Policies, 10, 116, 125, 219 Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), 222 EUREGIO, 207 Europe, 4, 10, 11, 13, 28, 31, 59, 61, 72, 77, 117, 118, 120, 125, 128, 130, 150, 151, 159, 175, 177, 188, 190, 200, 201, 205, 207–209, 213, 215, 218, 219, 225–227, 229, 235, 254, 255, 264, 269 European Capital of Culture, 175 European Coal and Steel Community, 213 European Economic Community (EEC), 33, 214 European Green Capitals, 217 European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC), 205, 207, 209 European Parliament, 48, 214 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), 216 European Social Fund (ESF), 216 European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), 187, 190, 210, 216, 218–219 European Spatial Planning Charter (‘Torremolinos Charter,’ 1983), 213 European Union (EU), 48, 125, 213–221, 227 Extreme/deviant cases, 98 F Favelas, 144 First World, 13, 252 Flanders, 205 Floods Directive (EU), 217 Foreign culture model, 87, 88, 259 Foreign direct investment (FDI), 47, 226 Formal, 3, 4, 11, 12, 17, 25, 27, 28, 41, 52, 54, 55, 58, 60, 64, 70–73, 75, 94–95, 106, 113–115, 120, 122, 128, 139, 142–150, 173, 190, 200, 203, 234, 235, 252, 265 Fourth World, 13, 14 France, 29–32, 55, 66, 92, 94, 96, 100, 123, 125, 198, 205, 206, 209, 221 Freetown, 146, 147 Freiburg, 96 G Garden Cities and Town Planning Association, 32 Garden Cities/Garden City, 6, 31 Gateways, 210, 227–231 Gauteng, 230 Germany, 29, 32, 34, 96, 100, 119, 127, 128, 135, 141, 176, 218, 227 Ghana, 142

275 Global agenda for planning (GAP), 17, 47, 153, 157–192 Global city, 53 Global Easts, 14, 62 Globalisation, 1, 5, 11, 12, 16, 23, 24, 33, 36, 37, 41, 43–47, 53, 54, 62, 63, 69, 76, 198, 250, 268 Global North, 3, 13–15, 35, 37, 44, 46, 53, 59, 60, 66, 147, 182, 250 Global planning challenges, 7, 17, 62, 249, 266 Global Planning Education Association Network (GPEAN), 252 Global South, 3, 13–15, 28, 37, 42, 44, 53, 59, 76, 77, 145, 147, 182, 186, 188, 231, 250–253, 255, 257, 258 Good Friday Agreement (1998), 209, 211 H Habitats Directive (EU), 210 Hanoi, 65 Haussmann, Georges-Eugène, 30 Haussmannisation, 30 Healthy Cities, 177 Heritage conservation, 174–176 Housing, 3, 4, 7, 13, 29, 31, 32, 35, 59, 60, 77, 85, 87, 100, 114, 123, 135, 140, 144, 145, 147, 152, 165, 168, 170, 173, 179–181, 183, 201, 223 Howard, Ebenezer, 31 Human Development Index (HDI), 13 Hybrid planning systems, 133–141 Hybridisation, 65 I Imposed/imposition, 1, 16, 25–29, 31, 34, 36, 38, 133, 159, 160 India, 13, 27, 31, 55, 123, 130, 244 Indicators, 6, 162, 182, 186–190 Indigenous, 13, 16, 25–27, 42, 104, 147, 160, 170, 181, 216, 251 Indochina, 226 Indonesia, 55, 222, 252 Industrialisation, 1, 4, 23, 28–30, 38 Informal/informality, 3, 4, 11–14, 17, 27, 41, 42, 49, 55, 58–60, 64, 67, 69–71, 73, 75, 77, 94–95, 114, 117, 127, 142–150, 162, 164, 176, 180, 182, 190, 203–206, 215, 219, 223, 233, 235, 243, 249, 250, 252, 253, 256, 264, 265, 269 Input legitimacy, 58 International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), 159

276 International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), 174 International Ethics Standards Coalition (IESC), 244 International exchange, 22, 23, 29, 32, 33, 63, 78, 93, 254 International Federation for Housing and Planning, 32 International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (IGUTP, 2015), 10, 48, 97, 166–167, 179, 244 12 key planning principles of International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (2015), 167 Internationalisation, 9, 16, 21, 23, 36–38, 41, 46–47, 54, 76, 78, 239, 247–249, 253, 258, 266–268, 270 Internationalism, 9, 17, 37, 41, 46–47, 76, 78, 109, 247–248, 253, 267, 268 International planning research, 8, 85, 86, 96, 97, 99, 105, 107, 253–254 International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP), 8, 173 Interreg, 206–209 Interviews, 86, 93, 101–104, 108–110, 266 Ireland, 117, 136, 205, 209–211, 214, 221 Israel, 28, 254 Issue of perception, 105 Istanbul, 30, 184 J Jakarta, 222 Japan, 55 K Kigali, 145, 146 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 121 Knowledge exchange, 24, 64, 67, 254, 256 Knowledge transfer, 16, 38 Kortrijk, 205–206 L Land and sea interactions, 219, 221 Land rights, 130, 133 Language, 9, 11, 12, 16, 31, 88, 91–94, 101–104, 106, 108, 134, 167, 183, 245, 246, 249, 254, 258, 259, 264 Lao PDR, 222 Las Cruces, 203 Laws of the Indies, 26

Index Least-developed countries, 13 Leeds, 100 Legal systems, 15, 54, 55, 72, 117, 120, 149 Legitimacy/political legitimacy, 16, 52, 56–58, 77, 185, 248 Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities (2007), 216 Lille, 202, 205–206 Lisbon, 147 Liverpool, 30, 175, 176, 248 Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City (World Heritage Site), 175 Local language, 102, 249 London, 30, 32, 89, 147, 205 Lost in Translation, 246 Low-income groups, 69, 181 Lutyens, Edwin, 27 Luxembourg, 202 M Macroregions, 208 Makhlouf, Abdulrahman, 34 Malaysia, 222 Maputo, 230, 231 Maputo Development Corridor (MDC), 230–231 Marine Spatial Planning Directive (EU), 221 Marine spatial planning/marine planning, 219–221 Marine Strategy Framework Directive (EU), 217 Maximum variation cases, 98 Medellin, 145 Methodological nationalism, 96 Métropole Européenne de Lille (MEL), 205, 206 Mexico, 144, 201 Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City (2010), 182 Migrants, 13, 29, 150, 170, 269 MIPIM (Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier), 206 Mixed methods, 99, 106–107 Mobility, 9, 16, 31, 33, 61, 63–66, 68, 70, 73, 96, 173, 180, 181, 208, 210, 228, 249, 259 Mongolia, 226 Monitoring framework, 185 Mozambique, 211, 212, 230 Multi-scalar nature of planning, 95–96 Mutation, 64 Myanmar, 130, 222

Index N Napoleon III, 30 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 126 National Planning Framework (Scotland), 210, 218 National urban systems, 6 Nelspruit/Mbombela, 230, 231 Neoliberalism, 44, 62, 129, 130 The Netherlands, 100, 119, 126, 129, 139 New Delhi, 27, 31 New Eurasian Land Bridge, 226 The New Leipzig Charter (2020), 217 New Mexico, 203 New Urban Agenda (NUA, 2016), 2, 3, 6, 7, 13, 59, 62, 63, 121, 142, 143, 158, 162, 164, 168–170, 173, 174, 176–191, 241, 252, 266, 270 New York, 162 North America, 4, 13–14, 28, 59, 199–201, 203–206, 213, 222, 264, 269 North American Borderplex Alliance, 203 Northern Ireland (NI), 128, 201, 209–211 Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), 57 O Observation, 48, 77, 86, 101, 102, 104–106, 110, 186, 230, 266 Oklahoma, 133 Older persons, 165, 170, 181 Oman, 176 One Belt One Road/Belt and Road, 53, 225 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 126, 151, 227 Our Common Future (1987), 161 Output legitimacy, 58 Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), 174–176 P Pakistan, 225 Palestine/Palestinian, 28 Paradigmatic cases, 98 Paris, 30, 31, 89 Participation, 56, 60, 71, 105, 108, 129–132, 167–169, 174, 176, 181, 227, 244, 256, 268 Path dependency/dependencies, 16, 23, 33, 74, 101 PEACE cross-border cooperation programme, 211 Peri-urban, 179

277 Periurbanisation, 136 Persons with disabilities, 165, 181 Philippines, 55, 222 Planetary urbanisation, 6, 41, 43–45, 53, 54 Planning artefacts, 71–73 Planning culture, 15, 22, 23, 65, 67, 70–75, 77, 94, 102, 120, 149, 242, 247, 257 Planning curriculum (the), 251–253 Planning doctrine, 17, 76, 158–159, 178–183 Planning education, 17, 27, 34, 142, 239, 242, 247–252, 257–259 Planning environment, 71, 72 Planning families, 116 Planning for Europe, 215 Planning history/ies, 22, 30, 38, 96 Planning ideas, 16, 23–27, 29–36, 39, 42, 59, 76, 96, 164, 232, 239, 263, 264 Planning in Europe, 61 Planning law, 126, 128 Planning problems, 35, 63, 64, 91, 265 Planning Sustainable Cities: Global Report on Human Settlements (2009), 163 Planning systems, 1, 3, 4, 6, 8–11, 15–17, 22, 25–27, 29, 34, 38, 41, 51, 54–58, 61, 70–75, 77, 87, 91, 93–96, 98, 101, 102, 109, 113–152, 157, 158, 160, 172, 178, 190, 191, 197, 201, 202, 210, 218, 221, 241, 242, 263, 265, 270 Planning theory, 7, 8, 22, 42, 59, 76, 130, 255–257, 259, 268 Planning traditions, 116, 125, 140, 148 Planning traditions in Europe, 125 Policy framework, 65, 99, 114, 116, 119, 137, 175, 183, 191 Policy mobility/mobilities, 16, 23, 33, 63–65, 68, 69, 74, 96 Policy transfer, 15, 16, 23, 63, 64, 66, 96, 140, 141, 149, 191, 250, 264, 265 Polycentric, 179 Portugal, 119, 147, 209, 221 Poverty, 7, 17, 27, 29, 44, 62, 159, 160, 162, 223, 249, 250, 266 ‘Poverty of territorialism,’ the, 51, 211 Presentism, 6, 22, 23, 33, 45 Pretoria, 230, 231 Professional associations of planners, 173 Profession/professionalism, 11, 15, 17, 23, 27, 32, 142, 182, 239–247, 252, 257, 258, 270 Proportionality, 214 Prost Plan (1937), 30 Public health, 4, 29, 46, 169 Public transport, 170

278 Q Questionnaires, 101–104, 266 Quito, 168, 176, 185 Quito Declaration, 3, 6, 169 R Rebordering, 199, 201, 209–211, 233, 234 Reflective practitioner, 246 Refugee camps, 13 Regulatory planning systems, 139, 140 Rescaling, 52, 126 Research design, 85–110, 265 Research ethics, 107–110 Resilience, 3, 5, 13, 41, 45–47, 76, 98, 166, 168, 170, 180, 247, 271 Reurbanisation, 92, 95, 96, 98, 100 Right to the city, 130, 182–183, 254 Rio de Janeiro, 162 Rio Earth Summit (1992), 161 Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA), 32 Royal Town Planning Institute, 32 Rural to urban shift/rural-urban migration, 4, 5 Russia, 53, 222 Rust belt regions, 250 S Scales of planning, 47–50, 76, 130, 239 Schuman Plan (1950), 213 Scope of planning, 4, 16, 70, 117, 122–125, 148 Scotland, 55, 91, 128, 209, 218 Seattle, 203 Second World, 13, 14 Segregated districts, 27 Sellier, Henri, 31 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 (2015), 166 Sengwe-Tshipise Wilderness Corridor (STWC), 211–212 Shanghai, 69, 252 Shanghai Consensus on Healthy Cities (2016), 177 Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, 34 Shenzhen, 57 Shrinking cities, 164, 250 Sierra Leone, 146–148 Silk Road, 28, 53, 225, 226 Singapore, 69, 222, 254 Slum Dwellers International, 176 Smart cities, 182 Societal environment, 71, 72 Soft spaces, 52 South Africa, 31, 55, 68, 129, 172, 211, 212, 230, 254 South America, 14, 26, 31, 142

Index Southern African Development Community (SADC), 230 Southern theory, 257 South Korea, 57 Soviet Union, 13, 119 Spain, 55, 119, 209, 221 Spatial imaginaries/imaginary, 14, 41, 47–54, 77, 225, 226 Spatial planning, 9–11, 70, 71, 74, 77, 93, 94, 119, 120, 124, 128, 164, 165, 167, 182, 197, 202, 208, 210, 215–219, 221, 235, 252, 266 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), 210 Special Protection Areas (SPAs), 210 Sri Lanka, 55 Städtbau, 32 Stakeholder, 7, 16, 42, 51, 63, 68, 104, 109, 117, 121, 128–133, 140, 142, 161, 165, 167–169, 181, 184, 185, 189, 205, 207, 229, 234, 245, 249, 265, 270 Stateless nations, 13 State territorialism, 48, 197, 201, 269 Statistics, 92, 99–100, 102, 103, 109, 266 Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), 122, 210 Sub-Saharan Africa, 69, 145–147 Sub-Saharan African nations, 57, 69, 145–147, 160 Subsidiarity, 127, 214 Supranational, 3, 9, 17, 41, 46–50, 52, 55, 61, 63, 95, 157, 158, 161, 167, 197–235, 240 Supranationalism, 17, 48, 50, 62, 198, 207, 213–221, 225 Sustainable development, 46, 47, 62, 67, 76, 97, 122, 150, 159–162, 167, 169, 171, 173, 178, 185, 187, 189, 218, 231, 240, 248, 256 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 2, 62, 121, 143, 158, 161–166, 169, 173, 176, 182, 184–189, 191, 192, 270 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, 2, 165–166, 184–186, 270 Suzhou, 248 T Taiwan, 57 Takahashi, Katsuhiko, 34 Terms for planning, 10 Territorial Agenda of the EU (2007), 216 Territorial Agenda of the EU 2020 (2011), 216 Territorial Agenda of the European Union (2007), 216 Territorial Agenda, 2030 (2020), 216

Index Territorial Agenda 2030-A Future for All Places (2020), 219 Territorial development, 5, 28, 97, 179, 202, 207, 208, 218–219 Territoriality, 41, 43, 46–54, 198 Texas, 201, 203 Thailand, 222 Third World, 13, 249 Throughput legitimacy, 56, 58 Tokyo, 246 Toronto, 66, 114 Tournai, 205 Town Planning Conference, 1910, 32 Town Planning Review, 32 Trans-European Network (TEN), 218 Trans-European Network Transport (TEN-T), 217, 218 Transformations of planning systems, 95 Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 162 Transit-oriented development, 180 Transnational, 5, 8, 9, 17, 22, 33, 41, 47–50, 61, 62, 74, 128, 157–159, 172, 187, 190–192, 197–235, 266 Transnational corridors, 227–231 Treaty of Rome, 214 Triangulation, 106–107 Tyrwhitt, Jacqueline, 33 U UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (2011), 53, 174 Uneven development, 3, 43, 216, 226 Uneven patterns of development, 5 UN-Habitat, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 17, 22, 25, 27, 36, 42, 48–50, 58, 63, 76, 97, 113, 121, 122, 143, 145, 148, 149, 152, 157, 158, 161–170, 173, 174, 176, 178, 179, 183–186, 188, 189, 191, 197, 211, 212, 244, 249, 252, 255 United Cities and Local Government (UCLG), 173 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 150, 174–176, 219 United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHSP), 44, 48, 54, 115, 145, 149, 213 United States, 29 United States of America (USA), 33, 66, 68, 126, 127, 133, 140, 183, 199, 203, 227, 252, 269 Urban and territorial planning (UTP), 6, 10, 11, 97, 122, 148, 157, 167–169, 174, 179, 181

279 Urban century, 1–6, 256, 257 Urban Development Corporations, 139 Urbanisation, 1–6, 12, 14, 23, 27–30, 33, 35, 37, 42, 44, 45, 52, 59, 65, 76, 77, 121, 123, 142, 144, 146, 163–166, 169, 177, 184, 185, 222–225, 247, 255, 258, 267 Urbanisme, 123, 125 Urban planning, 170 Urban shrinkage, 5 Urban sprawl, 3, 36, 95, 121, 164, 181, 223, 224, 230 Urban-rural continuum, 179 US–Mexico border, 199, 201, 204, 232, 269 V Vancouver, 65, 163, 203 Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements (1976), 184 Vietnam, 222 Village of Euclid vs. Ambler Realty Co., 135 Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea (VASAB), 220 W Wales, 128 Wales Spatial Plan, 218 Wallonia, 205 Waste management, 165, 215 Water Framework Directive (EU), 217 Welwyn Garden City, 31 West Bank, 28 Witbank/Middelburg, 230 Women, 170 Women and girls, 181, 223 World Bank, 27, 160, 161 World Health Organisation (WHO), 177, 223 World Heritage Committee, 175 World Heritage List, 175 World Heritage Sites (WHS), 174–176 World Urban Forum (WUF), 163, 185 Y Ypres/Ieper, 198 Z Zambia, 145 Zimbabwe, 55, 211, 212 Zoning, 69, 114, 119, 120, 126, 133–135, 138–141, 180, 181