The Challenges in a Fragmented World of Achieving a Holistic Approach to Urban Planning for a Sustainable Future

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 65
Oral Presentation
Barbara DICKENS , Flinders University, Flagstaff Hill, Australia
In our ‘complex, fragmented urban world’ (Stoker) ‘global problems are generated at the local scale and should be solved there too’ (Condon). Yet, neither governments nor citizens take responsibility for the collective problems, while political systems focus on short-term rather than long term benefits.

 Held emphasises ‘the need for a strong public sector, and the requirement for multilateral governance’, while acknowledging ‘conflicts between economic development and the strengthening of civil society’. McIntyre-Mills argues, ‘policy and practice needs to consider social, economic and environmental implications for all life’.

 The field of urban planning exemplifies this. Key issues of democracy and participation in public policy making at local and regional level, the role of the private sector and the balance of markets, government and civil society, and a containerized approach by government, results in much urban planning failing to recognize future consequences of current choices.

 Any approach to resolve this complex mess and balance the state, market and society requires, as McIntyre-Mills says, ‘a democracy/governance cycle that spans conceptual, spatial and temporal boundaries’. At the same time democracy needs to change to meet the convergent social, economic and environmental challenges. McIntyre-Mills recommends ‘both centralized controls to protect the global commons and decentralized engagement to test out our ideas’.

 Urban planning also will only succeed if it recognizes that ‘we need to be the subjects not the objects of other people’s designs’ (McIntyre-Mills). However, participatory design is complex and difficult and, while digital communication can potentially include more voices, like any engagement it works best when complementing other processes and ‘built around the needs, goals, and concerns of the potentially engaged,’ (Leinghninger).

 Sarkissian therefore argues that urban planning needs to take a holistic approach, ‘taking into account multiple layers and components of social systems’ and to be long term focused.