About the Congress

One of the main activities of ISOCARP is the organisation of our annual World Planning Congress which focuses on a planning theme of foremost international interest. Attended by some 500-750 delegates, ISOCARP World Planning Congresses are small enough for a personal interchange of ideas on a given theme, yet big enough to encompass a broad professional and international range. The Congresses are open to ISOCARP Members (reduced congress fees), but our Society warmly welcomes non-members (individuals, parties or organisations). The Congress provides a platform for establishing professional as well as personal contacts with colleagues from all around the world.

The 56th ISOCARP World Planning Congress

Recent environmental research suggests that humanity must move away from oil, gas and coal to reduce pollution, reduce various other environmental concerns and mitigate the processes of anthropogenic climate change. Today, because most of the human population lives in cities and the trend of massive (and frequently unordered and uncontrolled) urbanisation is accelerating, the urban areas are in the foreground of this "battle for the future"; to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. 

To win this battle many municipalities are developing new approaches to urban planning. These new plans and strategies frequently include ideas associated with reshaping the overall city structure, including redistribution of uses, rethinking the transport system, greening of the urban structure and the provision of people-oriented design solutions. Within these plans are new considerations about the nature of economic development and concerns to insure proper employment. And, as usual, the needs and expectations of local communities are a central part of this planning discussion. All of these elements constitute the core of the process to achieve sustainable urban and regional development designed to achieve climate-responsive actions and policies. Since our cities differ a lot, reflecting the various geographies and cultures of the world, it is hard to define one set of solutions that will work globally.

As cities produce their own place-specific plan – which may be generically referred to as their "Urban Green Deals" – a reservior of experiences is developed containing ideas to understand the problems, recognise possible solutions and identify ways to implementing changes. These Urban Green Deals are about ensuring the well-being of citizens while profoundly changing the way cities operate within the ecosystem. In light of this effort, the main purpose of the congress is to discuss how these Urban Green Deals may be shaped, which of the issues are most important in particular settings, how to plan and implement them, as well as discussing how they can contribute to the Global Agenda

The Gulf States have been largely developed thanks to oil and other non-renewable resources exports. Their fast growing and thriving smart cities as forerunners in the region and beyond. At the same time, the cities and states in this region are facing environmental, social and economic consequences of this model of development. Therefore, there is a growing understanding of the need for complex action to solves these problems. Hence, the Gulf-cities' leadership has initiated and propagated the need for a new planning paradigm of carbon-neutral, liveable and loveable, knowledge-based cities that has inspired planners and decision-makers from all over the world. 

Capitalizing on our successful 'Cool Planning' 2018 World Planning Congress in Bodø, Norway and other previous congresses dealing with various issues and topics important to the concept of Urban Green Deals, this Congress will-in addition to the broad global perspective-explore the adaptation of climate-responsive planning to 'hot places' such as Doha and peer-cities in other arid-climate regions. Planning practices that work for cool and hot places should be helpful for all other cities across the volatile hot-cool spectrum. 

The 2020 World Planning Congress will be staged in Msheireb Downtown Doha, a unique and ambitious downtown urban regeneration project. It revived the old district with a new architectural language that is modern, yet inspired by traditional Qatari heritage and architecture. Msheireb Downtown Doha aspires to become a new social and civic hub in the centre of the city – where it is enjoyable to live, work, experience culture and simply walk or cycle around with family and friends – and therefore a great place to host the ISOCARP Congress.

Selected topics and issues for Future Post-Oil Cities include:


1. Understanding Urban Metabolism
2. Ensuring the Economic Diversity and Resilience
3. Planning for Urban Connectivity
4. Safeguarding the Urban Resilience
5. Focusing on Heritage and Smart Culture
6. Creating Healthy and Inclusive Urban Environment
7. Shaping Liveable Places
Special Track: The Future of Hot Cities

The Congress will also include a series of Special Sessions and Forums, including:


- Participation Session
- Youth Forum
- Planning Sessions
- Education Forum
- Planning Research Sessions

ISOCARP Congresses rally a fine sample of urban and regional planners from across the globe and they also provide a unique platform for dialogue with decision-makers and other urban and planning stakeholders, both from the Global South and the Global North.

The 56th World Planning Congress marks the 55th anniversary of the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP). It will mark the end of 'Urban October 2020' and is the gateway to the 71st World Town Planning Day, held yearly on the 8th of November. It will also provide a unique opportunity to send a planner's message to the highly anticipated COP 26 Climate Conference that is expected to take place from 9-19 November 2020 in Glasgow, UK.

For more information, please click here.