Territorial Community

In this section TCi explores the diverse field of territorial share- and stakeholders. Together they represent the territorial community that decides on and benefits from territorial organization and management or governance.


Territorial planning is not (longer) about masterplans being drafted by one or even a bunch of masterplanners. Territorial planning is more than ever about making territorial partnerships to achieve the change we need to make urban and non-urban territories more healthy and sustainable for future generations of human and other species. Long time gone is the monopoly of local and national governments to uni-solo decide on favored land-use and territorial organisation and management. Other actors play an equally important role in territorial sustainability.


The International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning  promote the development of urban and territorial policies, plans and design by targeting a continuous dialogue and partnership between four key planning actor- and stakeholder groups:









These groups are not further explained in the Guidelines – leaving some room for interpretation. While limiting the complex and diverse field of planning actors and stakeholders to four main clusters has the advantage of addressing the recommendations in a clustered way, TCi will have a closer look at these groups and the diverse roles and responsibilities of its members as planning actors and stakeholders – also the potential drivers of change needed to break with the ‘business-as-usual’ towards urban and territorial planning and development. In that sense, the distinction between planning actors and stakeholders is not so relevant, or at least not exclusive.

All the groups mentioned in the Guidelines and below are always either planning actor or stakeholder, but in different roles depending on the planning object and process. For example: in the formulation of a city-wide strategic plan, the local authority is the main planning actor, together with affiliated or hired planning professionals, while the other groups are stakeholders in the planning process. However, in the implementation phase, a private developer or NGO can be the main planning actor, while the others are now stakeholder. By the same token: residents of a neighbourhood or city are usually considered as stakeholders in neighbourhood or city-wide planning processes, often through their (grassroots) non-governmental and Community Based Organisations. However, when residents are engaging in a visioning workshop or ‘planning charrette’, they are actually more planning actor than stakeholder. This reminds us that citizens – the people – are actually the most important planning actor and stakeholder at the same time, with some of them also assuming additional roles such as governmental agent, city councillor, entrepreneur or planning professional.

The four basic groups can actually be either further clustered or further broken down. The clustering would reduce the four groups to two:





While this might be redundant to the very notion of governance, in planning it is still relevant taking into account the primacy of governmental decision making for legally binding planning and land-use regulations. What counts is that these decisions are no longer taken in isolation but after consultation of and in partnership with non-governmental and other relevant governmental tiers. To ensure quality planning formulation, implementation, enforcement and monitoring and evaluation, both governmental and non-governmental players need to be adequately resourced. The Guidelines provides clear principles and recommendation to do so, while this platform will also introduce baseline indicators to monitor and strengthen a balanced human, technical and financial resourcing of both governmental and non-governmental actors.

Planning actors/stakeholders Subcategories/Examples Primary planning roles and responsibilities
Supranational/Transboundary United Nations






World Bank, IMF (financial institutions)





European Union/Council of Europe




Lake Victoria Region, Mekong River Commission,

Euroregio (trans-boundary)


Normative frameworks

Advice, support and

capacity development for policy/plan/design formulation and implementation


Advice and (financial) support for policy/plan formulation and implementation


European urban and spatial policy support and co-financing


Plan formulation and implementation

National Governments


All UN-member states (167) – Governments and Parliaments


All UN-Habitat Governing Council-member states (58)


Other governments (e.g. Palestinian Authority)


National Development Aid Agencies



National service providers (housing, water, energy, sanitation, public transport)


National Planning Institutes



National Planning System

National Urban Policy

National Spatial Framework/Plan

National Spatial Framework/Plan


Technical support and funding



Detailed planning and Implementation



Technical planning support, research and sensitisation

State/Regional authorities Confederated states, e.g:

·        USA States

·        German ‘Bundeslander’

·        Scotland/Wales

·        Puntland

·        Belgian regions


Other constitutional/deconcentrated regional authorities, e.g.:

·        French regions

·        Dutch provinces




City-regional and Metropolitan authorities

·        Tokyo

·        London

·        New Delhi

·        Mexico


Regional Planning system

Regional Urban Policy

Regional Spatial Framework/Plan




Regional Planning system

Regional Urban Policy

Regional Spatial Framework/Plan




Metro-planning, implementation and governance


Local authorities City-authorities



Other municipalities

City-wide planning and implementation


Municipal planning and implementation

Non Governmental



International NGOs and networks

·        General Assembly of Partners

·        UCLG/ICLEI/Metropolis/C40

·        Cities Alliance

·        GLTN

·        World Vision

·        Habitat for Humanity

·        UITP

·        …


Trade Unions/Housing Unions


Foundations and philanthropies

·        Ford foundation, Rockefeller foundation,…


International Planning Associations

·        Global Planners Network, ISOCARP, IFHP, CAP, ECTP,…

·        UIA, IAENG, IFLA,..




Multinational planning consultancies

·        Arcadis (Shelter), Arup,…


Multinational corporations (construction, real-estate, energy, service providers) and international business community

·        Siemens, engie, veolia,…

·        FIABCI


International media outlets

·        Citiscope, NextCity, CityLab,…


International Planning Schools/Research centres and their global associations

·        IHS, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

·        GPEAN,AESOP


Networking, advocacy, training, capacity development, project-formulation and implementation











Networking, advocacy, training, capacity development, technical advice and support on policy/plan formulation,

planning innovation


Responsible/ethical planning consultancy,



Responsible entrepreneurship, product innovation,

partnerships, funding




Informed public debate

Planning education and research, networking and advocacy


National National associations of local authorities




National NGOs


National private sector/business community

·        Chambers of Commerce


National Planning Associations/Institutes

·        RTPI, APA, CPA,…






National Planning Schools/Research Centres


National media outlets

·        The Guardian


Networking, advocacy, training, capacity development




Responsible entrepreneurship


Networking, advocacy, training, capacity development, technical advice and support on policy/plan formulation,

planning innovation,


Planning education and research


Informed public debate


Sub-national Subnational NGOs

Subnational Planning associations

Subnational Planning Schools




See non-governmental national



Basic planning actors and stakeholders

The table above suggests a more detailed breakdown of the main groups, including some basic characteristics of their primary roles in urban and territorial planning. Main ‘expansions’ to the groups addressed in the Guidelines are:


a) Supranational and transboundary institutions and organisations;
b) Regional authorities that are sub-national and supra-local, such as formally established metropolitan authorities;
c) The private sector, including private developers, real estate and planning consultancies;
d) The planning educational sector, including specialised planning schools and planning research centres;
e) The media outlets that are specialising in urban planning and development issues.


While a) could be seen as a ‘spin off’ of national governments, b) is more hybrid and related to both the national and local governance levels. Also c) is hybrid, recruiting its members in both the Civil society – the ‘non-planning professional’ Business Community – and among the Planning professionals – more in particular the planning professional consultancies and firms. The planning education sector (d) could be seen as an extension of planning professionals but also related to (national) governments in case of publicly financed or related to the private sector if privately financed. Both a) and c) extensions are becoming more and more important given the dual trend of ‘internationalisation’ on the one hand and the ‘corporate privatisation’ and market-led economies and societies on the other hand. Strong local and regional authorities in partnership with local (grassroots) civil society and local planning professionals need to balance out these groups and trends.


Also local authorities, civil society, planning professionals and planning education and research are increasingly taking part in national, transnational and global dialogues and the production of new normative frameworks such as the SDGs and the NUA. In addition, planning education will become a critical factor to redress the ongoing rapid and largely uncontrolled urbanisation, as well to deliver the commitments made and the expectations raised by the New Urban Agenda in particular – raising the need for an exponential increase in qualified and skilled urban and territorial planners. Last but not least more attention need to be paid to the (potential) role of specialised traditional and new/social media, in particular to complement the educational sector in providing well informed media platforms for debate, public awareness, sensitisation and mobilisation towards more sustainable planned urban and territorial development.


Last but not least TCi believes we humans cannot simply lock out the most important player in territorial development: Mother Earth! 


Taking stock of the the simplicity of the 4-stakeholder group categorization while ‘capitalizing’ on a more advanced breakdown of these groups TCi re-clustered the main stakeholder groups as follows:


Mother Earth!

Civil Society

Public Sector

Private Sector

Planning Professionals


Hybrid Actors of Change


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