Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Launch of Our City Plans Central America


The launch of Our City Plans Central America, a platform with urban planning tools aimed at municipal technicians of Central American municipalities, took place on May 2 in Belize City.
This activity was promoted by UN-Habitat with the support of the SISCA (Central American Social Integration Secretariat), the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government, and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing.
Our City Plans is a global toolbox that guides and supports local governments and urban stakeholders to understand, customize and develop inclusive and integrated urban planning processes, following a participatory and incremental methodology that is adapted to their needs and local context.
This global methodology has been developed by a multidisciplinary team within UN-Habitat in a collaborative effort between different branches, sections, and regional offices, led by the Urban Practices Branch of the Planning, Finance and Economics Section and the Global Urban Lab Network. The toolbox is the result of the work of UN-Habitat and partner organizations in more than 100 participatory urban planning processes implemented in different global contexts since 2014.
๐—ข๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—–๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ฃ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—–๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—”๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ
In the context of the Contribution to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and post-pandemic recovery in Central America and the Dominican Republic project, UN-Habitat’s Our City Plans methodology has been translated into Spanish and adapted to the context of Central America and the Dominican Republic.
This contextualized toolbox aims to guide city leaders, technical teams, and other urban stakeholders in major and intermediate cities in the region to implement urban planning processes focused on the city scale, considering relevant cross-cutting components. It is organized in four phases: assessment, planning, operationalization, and implementation and includes 13 thematic blocks and 55 activities.
The methodology has focused on eight specific countries: Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, and has been developed considering and responding to the normative and instrumental framework in the region and common challenges. These include accelerated urban expansion processes, vulnerability to risks and climate change, lack of financial resources for project implementation, land and housing management, coordination, and management in planning processes, among others.
While many of these countries have made considerable progress in terms of spatial planning- covering a larger geographical area – there are still opportunities to transition and strengthen planning processes to a city scale. This is of great importance in a context where intermediate cities are the ones that, with rapid population growth, suffer from disorderly processes of urban sprawl and additional challenges, and limited capacities to address them. In order to achieve the development of sustainable cities, it is necessary to support local governments and other urban actors in dealing with the challenges that rapid urbanization brings, as well as in the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda.
๐—” ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜… ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด
In this context, Our City Plans Central America seeks to complement existing guidelines and methodologies in the region’s countries. It focuses on providing a comprehensive framework for the urban planning process – focusing on the process rather than the product of the plan as an outcome – based on global and regional best practices and the extensive experience of UN-Habitat but adapted to the needs of Central America.
This incremental and flexible toolbox lives in a digital platform and includes dynamic and innovative activities and tools that can serve different contexts and be adapted according to approach, objectives, resources, and capacities. Each city, according to its particular challenges and available resources, will be able to adapt a roadmap for its planning process that allows it to address different scales and scopes according to its needs: from the definition of a strategic development vision and its triggering projects, a land management plan, as well as neighbourhood scale plans and projects.
The proposed methodology recognizes that urban planning processes are not linear but iterative processes, where different activities are linked and complement each other, which is evident in the content.
The digital platform offers diverse functionalities and sections such as intuitive navigation through step-by-step activities, the customization of their own planning process, downloading tools, taking notes, and tracking their progress, a repository of project experiences from around the world, additional resources and references, and ways to engage and receive support from Our City Plans team.
The toolbox also incorporates value-added components that cut across the urban planning methodology, such as inclusion and participation of citizens at different levels and stages; integration of disaster risk management and climate resilience in urban planning; development of financial mechanisms for project implementation; comprehensive land development and management tools; development of plans at different scales, from city to neighbourhood plans; and alignment with global agendas.
The 53 activities have an objective, outcome and step-by-step instructions, editable tools and templates, and additional resources – such as case studies and other references from UN-Habitat and external partners – that will help cities in Central America and the Dominican Republic to develop comprehensive and sustainable urban planning processes.

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