Piotr Lorens, General Rapporteur & Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha, Co-Rapporteur

"New times need new planning. It is not only about new themes and topics, but also a new level of integration. This refers not only to particular issues, but also to the new dialogue between theoreticians and practitioners, between institutional stakeholders and local communities, and finally – between professionals representing various traditions, cultures and having different experiences. Only then we will be able to start getting ready for the future."


H.E. Eng. Fahad AL Qahtani, Undersecretary for Urban Planning Affairs, 
Ministry of Municipality and Environment

The 56th ISOCARP World Planning Congress is taking place in strange times – the traditional world order we knew for years is changing in our eyes. Many of us will reshape our professional and personal future, having in mind the new perspectives for our urban globe. This will have to include developing the new urban paradigm – how to organise our cities and regions taking into account – among others – the post-oil realities. Although this perspective may still seem distant for many of us, we have to plan ahead for this. And before we plan – we must develop new ideas, new concepts, new implementation models. We must also understand that there is no single blueprint for these new times. Each of us – planners, municipal and community leaders, other professionals dealing with cities and regions – will have to translate these concepts into local "green urban deals" – local plans, strategies and initiatives that will help our communities adapt and transform. 

The times that are coming will for sure change our planet – and we have to get ready for this. ISOCARP has a long record of discussion on key aspects associated with reinventing our urban future. We should capitalize on the results of previous congresses – investigating the applicability of issues discussed in Jakarta, Bodø, Portland, Durban, to name just a few. All of those meetings allowed us to deal with particular themes and topics within the most appropriate urban and geographical contexts, which were serving as "living labs" for our ideas and "test beds" for new solutions. 

In this context the aims of the upcoming congress are twofold. First of all, we intend to reflect on all of innovative practices that can be identified even in the distant parts of the world. Secondly, we should consider the extent to which these can form the basis for the new urban and regional development paradigm and what its consequences will be to the planning profession. The key aspect is how to translate these into local contexts and how to make the new "green urban deals" part of planning and development practice. 

These issues will be dealt with within pre-defined tracks which shall accommodate key aspects of the new planning and development paradigm.  But we cannot forget about other aspects of it: research, education, innovative practices in planning and involving the youth. Furthermore, the issues of public health and dealing with current COVID-19 problems, which for sure will further on change our living patterns, will be discussed. Finally, the problems and prospects associated with the future of arid cities (the amount of which is constantly growing) in times of the climate change will be taken into consideration. The congress shall become a venue for the broad discussion on the future of the "post-oil city", having in mind that the future of each of it will probably be different. 

Our congress will take place in truly exceptional place. Doha, Qatar, seems to be the perfect location to discuss issues associated with both the new planning paradigm and current issues and problems that our cities have to face. The exact location of the congress venue – the newly reshaped historic center of Doha – provides opportunities not only for going "out of the box" with planning ideas and concepts, but also for bringing the congress to local urban community. 

We have a chance to meet and discuss main issues for our urban future in this truly remarkable location. At the same time the interdisciplinary character of the future planning and development can be grasped. And the unique venue also cannot be missed. I sincerely hope that this year Doha will become a place where true urban innovations are generated, and which will become a starting point for the truly innovative urban debate.