By Staff Writer
The Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) is calling on Commonwealth governments to have a fundamental rethink of policies and approach to managing urbanisation before it is too late.
“We have 10, maybe 15 years, to get on to a new track,” said CAP president Christine Platt.
A planner who works in South Africa, Ms Platt said that the slum problem, environmental damage and urban insecurity will become so entrenched that they will dominate international relations for the rest of the century.
“There are 65,000 more people living in cities in the Commonwealth than there were yesterday. There will be another 65,000 tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow. Urban growth rates are between three and six per cent a year in a third of Commonwealth countries,” she said.
To get the cities right needs smart planning, said Mrs Platt, who recently visited India to see how they are handling the urban consequences of an economic boom.
“We need a quantum leap in management capacity: more trained people with better skills, and planning legislation that is fit for purpose in today’s world,” she said.
“This is something that CAP is working on, together with our member institutes, our Commonwealth partners and also UN Habitat.
Mrs Platt said that too often, the approach of governments to urban development is one of curative medicine: clearance, infrastructure after the development has happened, too little too late in environmental protection.
“Planning means preventative medicine; it’s about acting now so that our cities and rural areas are not allowed to degrade to the extent that recovery becomes a prohibitive cost," she said.
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