World Town Planning Day 2020

World Town Planning Day 2020

3 November 2020

World Town Planning Day is an event that is aimed at advancing public and professional interest within the planning profession and it is dedicated to giving focused recognition to the ideals of community planning, which brings professional planners and communities together. This event has been celebrated as early as 1949, and it continues to present an opportunity to look at planning from a local and global perspective and celebrate the profession’s achievements as well as showcase planning evolution.


The theme for the World Town Planning Day 2020 event is: The Paradox of Planning Implementation across the Globe. This is an international event that will be held online via Zoom from the 4th to the 6th of November 2020. The event is organised by several stakeholders namely eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South African Council of Planners (SACPLAN), South African Cities Network (SACN), South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE). Furthermore, the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) has endorsed this event. World Town Planning Day 2020 is a pre- congress event for the 56th ISOCARP Virtual World Planning Congress on the Post-Oil City.


This years’ World Town Planning Day event will run under the following themes: (i) Spatial Planning, (ii) the 4th Industrial Revolution and Smart Cities, and (iii) COVID-19 and Urban Design. The choice of the main topic is one that pulls on the heart strings of communities across the globe, bearing this in mind the purpose of this event is to comprehend why and how planning implementation has affected various communities as further elaborated below thematically.

Spatial Planning


It is envisaged that spatial planning is generally about plan-making, but its manifestation is so extensive and laborious resulting in delays, laxity, corruption and budget over-runs. More so, its top-down process has left communities frustrated and losing faith in state planning interventions that are supposed to guide future spatial developments. It is such experiences that negatively impact on spatial planning as a tool for spatial reconfiguration of space thereby rendering it being a ‘bureaucratic tangle’. However, experiences across the world differ with some countries registering consistent success in their various spatial planning endeavours. Hence, this then calls for an analysis into “lived experiences” of a contextual nature across the world as to provide for sharing implementation strategies on spatial planning.

Smart Cities


It is undisputable that the notion of a smart city has gained popularity over the last two decades in the urban realm. Generally, it is seen as an urban movement towards creating cities that are more adaptable to the fast-paced changes and its associated challenges of the 21st century. However, prevailing evidence points to the fact that in as much as this phenomenon is universal, there are vast differences in cities in the global south and in the global north. This equally speaks to differences in what embodies smart cities and the role that the planning fraternity plays to make them work. More so, what role do other stakeholders (such as the private sector) play to make the smart city work? This theme calls for further insight into how planners can contribute significantly to the achievement of smart cities based on lived global experiences.

4th Industrial Revolution


It is an equally new concept in which planners across the world have to grapple with. The advent of the 4th industrial revolution coupled with the trend being set by smart cities is creating a puzzle especially within the planning fraternity. This ‘innovation and technological trend’ is a complete departure from traditional planning, which calls for new investment in the planning fraternity. However, some cities across the world are far more advanced in their planning and their systems while others are still at an infancy stage. This theme calls for detailed experiences of implementing elements of the 4th Industrial Revolution, innovations that can be used in plans across the world as well as the opportunities and challenges that it presents.

COVID-19 and Urban Design

It is undebatable that COVID-19 has had a ravaging effect on global cities. Emerging evidence over the last couple of months indicate that cities are gradually responding positively to living with the new ‘norm’ imposed by COVID- 19. While some governments have responded swiftly to COVID-19 by inaugurating in the number of laws, regulations and policies to curb the runaway effect of COVID-19; however, some responses have evolved organically in response to the challenges. Hence, this calls for city planners to revisit existing urban design strategies to make them responsive to the new norm. What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the functionality of the current urban fabric and what innovative approaches are required going forward in the face of this pandemic. This theme calls for the need to share experience and recommend sustainable urban design intervention for the future. Hence, the competition theme: Considering COVID-19 imposing on society the ‘new normal’ what is the planning response to the design of land uses such as a creche, a restaurant, a classroom or an open space that would make such land uses more acceptable to society.


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