Planning Action for a Just Transformation to a Net-Zero Climate Resilient World

74th World Town Planning Day Statement

Every person and community in the world today is threatened by a deepening climate and biodiversity emergency, compounded by conflicts, the pressures of demographic and other societal change, and the continuing legacy of the pandemic.

The Global Planners Network (GPN), the largest gathering of national and international planning associations, calls for urgent action to stop any further irreversible degradation of the natural world and adverse impacts on communities globally before the window for action closes.

Following our Katowice Declaration in June 2022, we re-assert that there can be no sustainable development without sustainable urbanization and no sustainable urbanization without effective planning. Effective planning, however, requires political support, financial, and human resource investment, and authentic community empowerment and engagement.

As planners, we call for nations and cities to urgently deliver inclusive and ambitious climate measures to strengthen resilience, support a just transition to a net-zero economy, and more quickly deliver on the Paris Agreement. Plans must be based on more sustainable transportation systems, better air quality, greater protection of our natural environments, less poverty, and reduced consumption of resources, energy, and non-organic goods and foods.

For this to happen, we advocate for better human and technical resources for planning institutions and functions and for stronger subnational governments to manage land development so that local and national plans can be swiftly aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda.

This means re-imagining planning so that the lessons learned on the limits to growth on a planet with finite resources can be shared by society. Adopting a nature and place-based approach to the climate emergency and tackling inequality requires collaboration across planning and allied professions, civic society, and the private sector. It also requires a flexible approach to foster innovation, learning, and adaptation.

Key to this will be creating capacity to allow for effective, strategic, and participatory planning at both regional and national levels. It will also be important to address inequalities and include the voices of those most at-risk from the climate emergency into our plans. Planning can also coordinate infrastructure investments to help direct where and what we build, how we build it, and how we move around.

City-regions sit at the forefront of current emergencies. Utilizing effective planning approaches across them can play a significant role in addressing the challenges of climate change. Local governments, by virtue of their close relationships with businesses, residents, and institutions, also provide an opportunity for new policies to be implemented quickly in response to pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges. Working together in wider areas, they can bring powerful additional action to effectively tackle these challenges.

Local planning functions are key to mobilizing resources, redistributing land value uplifts, and delivering truly inclusive place-based solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation which communities can influence, co-produce, and own. This is also essential for sustainable rural development.

It is the firm belief of the Global Planners Network that planners throughout the world have the unique skills, talent, desire, and commitment to tackle the global crisis we now face. Planners stand ready to play their part to harness transformative changes for a better, fairer, more sustainable future.

World Town Planning Day 2023

World Town Planning Day takes place every November 8, bringing planners and communities together to celebrate how good planning improves the lives of people and benefits society at large, creating places to live, work and play.

Argentinian professor Carlos María della Paolera started World Town Planning Day in Buenos Aires in 1949, and today, planners from over 30 countries celebrate the occasion with lectures, school competitions, fundraising, charity events, planning awards, and street festivals.

Top image: iStock / Getty Images Plus – imaginima


November 3, 2023