Territorial Practices

Countries, Cities and Citizens in Global South and North – Compendium of Inspiring Practices

Learning from the Millennium Development Goals and in particular the ‘Localising Agenda 21’ Programme , the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda and consequently the Guidelines are no longer only neither mainly targeting developing and poor countries, but also the more developed countries. The growing social divide between the rich and the poor or the ‘haves’ and ‘haves-not’ has become an overarching challenge in both the Global South and the Global North, as is the case with adaptation to Climate Change and its detrimental impacts in all parts of the world – yet, most felt by the vulnerable societies and persons. However, challenges related to governance and planning of people’s territories and cities are both similar but also very diverse from place to place, simply because of the different interplays between physical conditions and societal systems in time and space.
Against this backdrop, the Guidelines are targeting review and reform of planning system around the globe in both the Global South and North. The challenges of making our cities and settlements more compact, better connected, socially more inclusive and climate resilient are unprecedented in both North and South. Many developing countries can actually leapfrog towards more compact city extensions, while many developed countries can hardly reverse the massive sprawl and car-dependency they have allowed to happen in the past decades.
The Compendium of Inspiring Practices – developed in conjunction with the Guidelines – shows cases planning challenges and interventions at the supra-national, national, metropolitan, city and neighbourhood scales from Africa, America, Asia, Oceania and Europe. The case studies have been drafted by international experts who have been nominated by member states as well as international professional organisations and associations.
This Compendium forms a sample of an ongoing, larger and open initiative to document inspirational and international experiences at a range of geographical scales, geographically well balanced and thematically linked to the qualifiers included in the resolution 24/3 of creating more compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities that are resilient to climate change. As such the Compendium forms
the start of a global network of knowledge
and experience sharing. Such a platform would enable decision makers to make more informed decisions on their own development challenges.
The 26 case studies presented in this Compendium may initiate a larger body of work, with a call for further contributions of inspiring urban and territorial planning practices. This growing collection may be organised into an open online database of experiences related to key development themes, to the principles of the Guidelines, and to this Handbook. Such tools can provide inspiration for policy makers, planners and communities to promote sustainable urban and territorial development in future planning processes.
Across such a wide cross section of case studies documenting planning experiences in various contexts, the outcomes and lessons learnt are numerous and diverse – showcasing ‘unity in diversity’. Five key lessons can be underscored in the case studies, which showcase how sustainable urban and territorial development can be triggered through (1) integrated policy formulation and implementation, (2) transformative renewal strategies, (3) environment planning and management, (4) planning compact and connected cities and regions, and (5) inclusive and participatory planning. The key lessons drawn from the case studies can be applied at local, sub-national, national or even supra-national levels, reflecting the multi-scale continuum of urban planning and development.

Integrated Policy Formulation and Implementation

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Implementing urban policies and plans is an effective means of improving and strengthening urban governance systems with the view to achieve balanced social and economic development. To make policy interventions effective there needs to be a long term trajectory, which embraces the current and future needs of an area. The use of vertical and horizontal policy integration has proved vital in shaping the spatial development of any territory, in guiding future growth, influencing behaviour and actions at political level and providing strategic direction through a shared vision for development.


The power of forward thinking policy that has achieved significant economic growth is embodied by China in the cases of the Yangtze River Delta and Shenzhen, regional areas that have become major economic powerhouses of China. Through being established as a strategic Special Economic Zone (SEZ), Shenzhen has swelled from a small fishing village to
a modern day megacity. Effective master planning
has ensured that development has been regionally balanced, with all areas well serviced by infrastructure, access to jobs and green open spaces.


Similarly, balanced regional and economic development has been instilled in city, regional and supranational development policies by Morocco, Gauteng, South Africa and the European Union respectively. Each uses spatial planning and sectorial cooperation to mitigate social segregation and slum conditions, while delivering increased economic outputs through better accessibility and productivity. This was epitomised in the Gauteng City Region, which used a progressive development policy to integrate developmental goals at horizontal and vertical institutional levels.


Using urban and territorial planning policies to improve disaster management and mitigate climate change risks was effective in both Port au Prince, Haiti and Norway, where integration of the public, private and the NGO sectors assisted in strengthening the resilience of the cities. In the case of Norway, mobilising multiple stakeholders in support of forward thinking urban and environmental policy helped improve the country’s preparedness by standardising expectations on climate action and adaptation.