56th World Planning Congress of the International Society of City and Regional Planners 

8-12 November 2020, Doha, Qatar

Post-Oil City: Planning for Urban Green Deals

While dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, we need to plan ahead to be more health resilient as a largely urban species. This needs to be combined and aligned with our imperative planning challenge to halt and reverse global warming and critical loss of biodiversity.

Therefore, we 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 cities and local authorities are already developing new approaches to urban planning, but efforts need to be stepped and scaled up in this Decade of Action to implement the SDG's by 2030.

These new plans and strategies will 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 to make our cities more health-resilient. 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 health- and 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. Globally acclaimed planning principles need a place-based and people-centred approach.

As cities produce their own place-specific plan – which may be generically referred to as their "Urban Green Deals" – a wealth 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 solve 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.

Obviously, while exploring the contours of the Post-Oil City, the Doha Congress will provide a unique platform to draw these contours with the pen of the Post Covid-19 Urban Planning Paradigm.

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 Congress include: 

  • Track 1: Understanding Urban Metabolism
  • Track 2: Ensuring the Economic Diversity and Resilience
  • Track 3: Planning for Urban Connectivity
  • Track 4: Safeguarding the Urban Resilience
  • Track 5: Focusing on Heritage and Smart Culture
  • Track 6: Creating Healthy and Inclusive Urban Environment
  • Track 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: Community-based planning, local empowerment and self-organisation (including presentations from planning practice – invitation will be extended to ISOCARP members and their companies).
  • Youth Forum:  Focusing on Young Planners ideas and concepts regarding the urban future (including lessons learnt from ISOCARP YPPs projects).
  • Planning Sessions: Innovative and inspiring planning practices (including discussions on results and lessons learnt from ISOCARP UPATs projects as well as presentations from planning practice – invitation will be extended to ISOCARP members and their companies).
  • Education Forum: Addressing the growing needs for planning education and long-life learning (in possible partnership with association(s) of planning schools).
  • Planning Research Sessions: Matching planning practices with planning research and science(in possible partnership with universities / other organizations focused on promotion of planning research and science).

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.