Urban Ecological Planning
Urban Ecological Planning (UEP) is a practice based program that enables students to develop skills and knowledge to address complex urban issues in rapidly changing social, cultural, political and environmental contexts. The program stresses on an integrated approach to strategic spatial change, with a specific focus on participatory, inclusive and developmental planning practice.
The program is relevant to urban realities in both the developed countries and the Global South. The former are now facing such new challenges as aging or declining population, health hazards and exclusion of ethnic minorities. Planners in cities in low- and middle- income regions need to deal with the consequences of rapidly growing population, socio-spatial inequalities, deficient infrastructure, environmental degradation and weak institutional capacity. The majority of the inhabitants of the cities in the South live in slums and will do so in the future, if these issues remain unaddressed. There is an urgent need to change the outdated laws and regulations and the technocratic approaches that are still prevalent in many countries around the world. We believe that urban planning should be focused on the people and that the only way to deal with these challenges is by working directly with the communities.
Consequently, the programme focuses on the complex interdependencies between people, institutions and the built environment in pursuit of equity, efficiency and sustainability. It is based on the following main theoretical domains:
- Livelihoods and entitlements approach to understanding poverty,
- Concepts of territorialism and a focus on neighbourhoods as the scale of planning,
- Community engagement with and empowerment,
- Informality in all its various dimensions – spatial, physical, economic and political,
- Understandings of sustainability and resilience as used among NGOs, humanitarian aid agencies and think-tanks.
A sustainable approach is adopted to concentrate on building local responsibility and capacities for a strategic action planning. In the first semester, our programme starts right in the field, with a rich mix of international and local students. Students spend around 6 weeks in the field to understand the strengths of neighbourhood within dense cities, and evaluate possibilities for spatial, environmental and livelihood improvements.
In subsequent semesters, the students undertake various other courses designed to address theoretical and practical aspects of urban planning. With on-site exercises and extensive fieldworks over the last decade, the programme has addressed various situational topical issues which are globally and locally significant.
The work undertaken by UEP students and staff is closely related to the agendas and principles of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other UN agencies, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). As a member of UN-Habitat’s UNI network for academia and research (previously HPUI – Habitat Partner University Initiative), UEP received financial and logistic support from UN-Habitat to conduct student fieldworks. Several of UEP graduates were successful in obtaining internships and consultancy positions with UN-Habitat during, or after graduating from the program.
UEP activities published in the journals of the American Planning Association and the School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal, India.
Kampala Jinja - UEP fieldwork in Uganda in 2013 (.pdf)
Sanitation toolkit - UEP fieldwork in Uganda in 2013 (.pdf)
The World Urban Forum - Medellin, Colombia, 2014