Congress Concept Note

For Climate Action, Urban Finance 
Climate-responsive Planning for Equitable Places & Communities

Acknowledge, Decide, Invest and Interact

Cities are homes for over 50% of the world's population, consuming two-thirds of global energy and accounting for 70% of global emissions. Cities serve as financial centres and contribute [up to/around] 80% of the global GDP, but cities continue to face social, economic, and environmental development challenges. Many countries are urbanising rapidly without adequate urban governance, fiscal resources, urban policies, and integrated planning, preventing effective and efficient use of resources for sustainable development. There are also shrinking cities, mining and post-mining regions and towns where urban sustainability should be reinvented, considering just transitioning to the green economy and adapting innovative, nature-based solutions and adequate fiscal responses. Climate crises and financial constraints have become additional challenges for sustainable development in cities worldwide, requiring the rethink of policymaking, planning, investment, and development of integrated climate-responsive urban strategies. Thereby, there is a need for better policies, planning solutions and investment in the long-term future of cities to provide and maintain high-quality living conditions for all and stop financial flows historically supporting non-sustainable outcomes such as urban sprawl and real-estate development models leading to increased social and economic inequality. 

The 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) emphasised the critical role of cities in global climate change and called for finding enabling innovative solutions to merge policy making, planning and finance efforts for achieving urban sustainability and resilience. The UN-Habitat's Cities and Climate Change Initiative (CCCI) calls for supporting cities in low- and middle-income countries lacking policymaking, planning capacities and financial resources to respond to the negative impact of climate change. To create the foundations for a collaborative and participatory response to the climate crisis in cities and regions, the Urban Economy Forum (UEF) and the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) jointly organise the 5th Urban Economy Forum (UEF5) and 59th ISOCARP World Planning Congress (WPC59) as the integrated conference "For Climate Action, Urban Finance. Climate Responsive Planning for Equitable Places & Communities".

ISOCARP – a society of professional planners contributing to knowledge creation while combining a unique triple perspective in theory, policy and practice – and UEF – a distinctive platform to disseminate knowledge through establishing dialogue among key stakeholders – will complement each and work together to make policymaking, planning and climate finance beneficial for all. After 45 years since the Montreal congress "Evolution of Urban & Regional Planning with Regard to Changes in Society", ISOCARP is back to Canada to continue looking for innovative ways of tackling climate change. Inspired by the rich experience of ISOCARP congresses in the past[1], the 59th congress is an excellent chance to discuss challenges for and possible synergy between policy making, planning, climate action and urban finances. 

As an institutional member of ISOCARP, the UEF is the global essential partner to re-establish the links between policy making, planning, and economic development. For the past four years, the UEF has annually convened hundreds of urban partners and experts, city managers, mayors, academics, governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations, financial institutions, local communities, and other stakeholders to engage in discourses on the topic of urban economy and finance. The last year's UEF4 on "Sustainable Urban Finance" aimed to examine financial and banking institutions' mandates and operations to identify commonalities concerning urban resource management to achieve a sustainable urban economy and share innovative opportunities. 

The joint UEF5+WPC59 event aims to bring multiple stakeholders together, particularly professional planners, policymakers, city leaders, government, academia, financial institutions, entrepreneurs, and civil societies, to elaborate on the following four thematic areas and respective track of focus:

  • Finding synergies and relevant solutions for attracting climate finance and transforming it into locally demanded social, economic, and environmental values for city residents not leaving anyone behind. 

  • Leveraging multi-disciplinary, multi-sector, and multi-level collaboration for better urban governance, balancing public and private, global, and local urban development needs.

  • Investigating new ways of proactive planning and effective investment by combining the use of evidence with the foresight and visioning for transforming cities and communities into economically prosperous, healthy, environmentally friendly, socially just, inclusive, and resilient places.

  • Exploring technologies, not historically linked to planning practice and urban finance, by exposing innovative linkages and synergistic opportunities of using big data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence.


[1] Including: "From Wealthy to Healthy Cities" (Brussels, Belgium, 2022), "Post Oil City: Planning for Urban Green Deals"(virtual, 2020)   "Cool Planning: Changing Climate and Our Urban Future" (Bodø, Norway, 2018), "Low Carbon Cities" (Porto, Portugal, 2009), "The Environment and the City (Warsaw, Poland, 1990), and "Planning and Energy" (Strasbourg, France, 1979)



TRACK 1: ACKNOWLEDGE community values

The first track's main theme aims to find synergies and relevant solutions for attracting climate finance and transforming it into locally demanded social, economic, and environmental value for city residents, not leaving anyone behind.

Keywords: synergies, land value capture, cultural values, natural and cultural heritage, indigenous values, social values, economic values, environmental values, energy poverty, just transition, urban resilience, gender equality, people with disabilities and special needs, age-responsive planning.

It is the perfect time to engage in constructive dialogue about how new concepts of Climate Resilient Cities support Climate Finance to help enhance the ability of cities and communities to absorb, recover and prepare for climate change and other possible future shocks. What are the main applications and implementation challenges for climate-responsive planning and financing, considering indigenous values, preserving cultural heritage, and guaranteeing gender equality and comfort for people with disabilities and special needs? How planning, investment, and regulation can increase the value of land, and how the potential of land value capture can be used for climate financing urban and regional development projects? Finding synergies between climate-responsive planning, investment, and local needs, values, and aspirations on both city- regional (including metropolitan) and neighbourhood scales is critical for building sustainable, resilient, and inclusive cities that provide all residents with social, cultural, economic, and environmental value. The first thematic track of the Congress explores and searches for synergy and alternative, innovative, creative solutions for achieving urban sustainability and resilience at the various scales of planning and finance practice.

Depending on the identified speakers and received special session proposals, joint ISOCARP- UEF panel discussions with invited experts may cover the following topics:

  1. Main obstacles and challenges to achieving climate-resilient and financially self-sufficient cities.
  2. Capacities of financial institutions to understand and consider cities' long-term financial and development needs.
  3. Policymaking and financing synergies to produce public goods reflecting cultural, indigenous, social, economic, and environmental values.
  4. Integration of climate-responsive planning and financing for promoting socially inclusive urban resilience.
  5. Challenges, opportunities and transformative practices for greater representation, leadership and participation of women and girls in climate-responsive planning and urban climate finance, for more effective and equitable climate action outcomes, places and communities.

UEF-ISOCARP call for sessions and academic papers will be open to contribute to responding to the following questions:

  • In the search for synergy, are there acceptable solutions aligning with the unique cultural, indigenous, and social values? How can these solutions become fiscally affordable and sustainable?
  • Can planning be used to effectively use available resources and increase the in-kind return of urban investments by improving living conditions and business environments?
  • How can we ensure that green economic transitions to reduce carbon emissions are just and equitable, leaving no one behind?
  • How can planners, policymakers and economists merge their efforts to achieve just transition of providing not only green jobs but also capacities and skills, supporting not only large but also small and medium businesses, activating, and supporting not only top-down but also community-led initiatives that draw on local values?

 

TRACK 2: DECIDE jointly

The second track's main theme aims to leverage multi-disciplinary, multi-sector, multi-level collaboration, and cross-border planning for better urban governance, balancing public and private, global and local urban development needs.

Keywords: collaboration, multi-disciplinary, multi-sector, multi-level, public interests, private interests, public-private partnership, global agenda, community initiatives, city-region, urban agglomeration, neighbourhood development, green growth, greening, innovation, green jobs, participatory budgeting, Climate Action Plan, effective governance.

Collaboration between multiple disciplines, sectors, and levels is crucial for effective urban governance that balances public and private interests, and global and local urban development needs. Recognizing the importance of multidisciplinary, multi-sector, multi-level, and multi-scale approaches to urban governance is crucial for the proper planning and management of the city and the development of workable Climate Action Plans. It means breaking down traditional silos and bringing together actors from different sectors, levels of government, areas of expertise, and scales of planning. Moving beyond sectoral thinking and finding ways to merge economic development with land use, housing, transport, and infrastructure development in a climate- responsive and integrated manner is essential. There is a need for a comprehensive analysis of the benefits, costs and limitations of such integrated planning and a concerted effort to bring together climate experts, financial experts, landscape architects, and city and regional planners to support better climate-responsive planning for equitable and lower carbon urbanisation of places and communities. The intention is to mix different practices, actors, and disciplines in fulfilling and enlightening conversations. The second thematic track of the Congress discusses possible ways multiple disciplines operate in unison and what knowledge-sharing and decision- making levels are needed for succeeding in financing climate actions.

Depending on the identified speakers and received special session proposals, joint ISOCARP- UEF panel discussions with invited experts may cover the following topics:

  1. Balancing global vision and diversity of unique place-based, neighbourhood solutions increasing urban resilience based upon the local circumstances of each city, community, or place.
  2. Cooperation between climate experts, financial experts, city and regional planners through "climate conscious" dialogue to achieve national climate goals and minimise trade-offs between local priorities.
  3. Effective interaction between different stakeholders (parliaments, local governors, municipalities, and banks) and public engagement for socially inclusive climate actions and urban resilience.
  4. Integrated policymaking, regional and city planning combined with economic modelling, considering social and environmental concerns, merging land use, housing, transport, and infrastructure development needs.

 

UEF-ISOCARP call for sessions and academic papers will be open to contribute to responding to the following questions:

  • Are there any policy and planning solutions for balancing public and private interests when attracting urban finance for climate actions?
  • Are there any case studies of successful multidisciplinary and multisectoral collaboration leading to more effective climate action financing or climate-responsive development?
  • How can integrated and sustainable urban and regional planning contribute to mitigating climate change, saving resources, and reducing city financial constraints?
  • To what extent can integrated and sustainable urban and regional planning contribute to mitigating climate change, saving resources, and reducing financial constraints in cities?
  • Are there successful cases of public-private participation in achieving climate-resilient development or sustainable urban finance?

 

TRACK 3: INVEST wisely

The third track's main theme aims to investigate new ways of proactive planning and effective investment by combining evidence with the foresight and visioning for transforming cities and communities into economically prosperous, healthy, environmentally friendly, socially just, inclusive, and resilient places.

Keywords: data-informed planning, forecasting, alternative scenarios, system approach, quality of life, metrics, evaluation, efficiency, lifestyle, behavioral studies, gender, and age-disaggregated data, indigenous people needs, needs of people with disabilities, socially inclusive planning, participatory planning, carbon credits, carbon taxes, environmental and social impact assessment, risk mitigation, transformative change, multigenerational planning.

Transforming cities and communities into sustainable, healthy, and prosperous places requires proactive planning, practical investment, and particular effort to study and change people's behavior and mindsets. Citizen-generated data can play a significant role in this process by providing insights into the needs and priorities of communities. Using this data can ensure that no one is left behind in transforming cities and communities. Combining evidence with foresight visioning is vital to transform cities and communities into economically prosperous, healthy, environmentally friendly, socially just, inclusive, and resilient places. The third thematic track of the Congress explores the interconnectedness of systems, actions, strategies, integrated planning approaches, and financial models, with metrics and correlations between social, cultural, economic, and environmental dimensions.

Depending on the identified speakers and received special session proposals, joint ISOCARP- UEF panel discussions with invited experts may cover the following topics:

  1. Strategic assessment of urban development and climate change-related needs, short- term and long-term social, environmental and economic costs and benefits of climate actions.
  2. Potential long-term social and environmental investment returns and evaluation metrics.
  3. Data, planning, and evaluation practices informing policymaking and planning for inclusive, gender-sensitive, child-friendly, indigenous-considering climate actions.
  4. Data-driven and proactive planning and forecasting for attracting external funding (Loss and Damage Fund for developing countries adopted at COP27) to create comfortable living conditions and enabling environment for medium and small businesses in post- disaster and post-conflict urban contexts.

 

UEF-ISOCARP call for sessions and academic papers will be open to contribute to responding to the following questions:

  • Can alternative scenarios be created to evaluate the effectiveness of investments and ensure the efficient use of resources?
  • What are key metrics to evaluate the impact of investments and identify areas that require improvement?
  • How can data-informed planning help to identify the needs of cities and communities and increase forecasting of the potential for climate-resilient scenarios and transformations?
  • Are there any practical examples of applying a systematic approach to planning to ensure that all aspects of the climate change transformation are considered, including citizens' quality of life, environmental impact, and social justice?
  • Are there good examples of proactive planning and effective public or private investment based on the application of forecasting, quality-of-life metrics, and citizen-generated data for achieving climate resilience and urban sustainability?

 

TRACK 4: INTERACT with tech

 

The fourth track's main theme aims to explore technologies not historically linked to planning practice and urban finance by exposing innovative linkages and synergistic opportunities of using big data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence.

Keywords: digitalization, planning supporting IT tools, artificial intelligence, big data, innovation, circular economy, nature-based solutions, landscape planning, metropolitan planning, regional planning, neighborhood planning, blended finance, green bonds, smart public transport, water and waste management, affordable housing.

The digitalization of society has brought about a wealth of opportunities to improve planning practices and urban finance. With the rise of big data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence, planners can now access vast information to inform their decision-making processes. These technologies not historically linked to planning practice and urban finance have the potential to be applied by policymakers and planners to improve outcomes for cities is significant. Data is essential to reaffirm an approach to the circularity of economic practices. By using specific algorithms to analyze large amounts of data, policymakers, and planners can identify patterns and trends that may not be immediately apparent, better identify areas that require investment or intervention and predict future trends that may impact urban planning and finance. The last thematic track of the Congress explores the future of planning with the capabilities and technologies that the new generation of planners and financial professionals can use to achieve climate-resilient and sustainable urban development.

Depending on the identified speakers and received special session proposals, joint ISOCARP- UEF panel discussions with invited experts may cover the following topics:

  1. Emerging information technologies for policymaking and planning to make informed decisions based on climate actions and climate finance.
  2. Issues of affordability and accessibility of technologies' application in policymaking, planning, urban finance, and decision-making practice.
  3. Innovative linkages and synergistic opportunities for using big data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence to increase energy efficiency and decrease environmental pollution.
  4. Technologies improving cooperation of policymakers and planners with financial institutions and banks to invest in making cities climate resilient.
  5. Stimulation of innovation and introduction of technologies to promote a circular economy, nature-based solutions, and required capacities and skills.

 

UEF-ISOCARP call for sessions and academic papers will be open to contribute to responding to the following questions:

  • How can planners use new technologies and incorporate planning-supporting IT tools to make cities more climate-responsive and sustainable?
  • How AI applications, geospatial analytics, virtual reality, business analytics, and similar efforts can be applied to benefit climate-responsive planning and climate financing?
  • What IT tools can planners use to collect and analyze data, create visualizations, model different scenarios, and understand the potential impacts of different planning decisions?
  • How can artificial intelligence and big data assist climate-responsive policymaking, planning and financing?
  • How can machine learning algorithms be used to predict future climate change impacts or identify areas at risk of earthquake and flooding?
  • Are there innovative financing mechanisms and technologically advanced ways for cities' climate actions to help integrate urban planning with the development of alternative energy, effective water use, and biodiversity protection?


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