International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning

International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning_capture

The need for planning cannot be over-emphasized. Urbanization is progressing rapidly and by 2050, seven out of ten people will be living in cities. Inappropriate policies, plans and designs have led to inadequate spatial distribution of people and activities, resulting in proliferation of slums, congestion, poor access to basic services, environmental degradation, and social inequity and segregation.

The International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning serve both as a source of inspiration and a compass for decision makers and urban professionals when reviewing urban and territorial planning systems.

The Guidelines provide national governments, local authorities, civil society organizations and planning professionals with a global reference framework that promotes more compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities and territories that foster sustainable urban development and are resilient to climate change.

PDF:  Link  (40 Pages, 8.40 MB)

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Managing Urban Growth: Indian Cities


India is in a major phase of urbanisation. The urban population growth projections are incredible. In a 2006 report, India’s Registrar General suggested a rise of 248 million people living in cities between 2001 and 2026. That means about 10 million new people to be accommodated in Indian cities every year. This requires major planning and intense government focus at national, state and city level.

This publication lists the status of various urban infrastructure, status of reforms, strategies for urban development, response of government etc. apart from the status of environmental sustainability under the Million Development Goals (MDG).

This publication has been produced by National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and Metropolis and presents case studies from the cities of Agra, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lavasa, Magarpatta, New Delhi, Pune and Surat.

PDF: (148 Pages, 11.4 MB)

Posted in Sustainable Urban Development, Urban India, Urban Infrastructure, Urban Statistics, Urban Studies, Urbanisation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Unpacking Metropolitan Governance

Unpacking Metropolitan Governance_CaptureRapid urbanization and population growth are creating larger cities and local economic areas, especially in developing countries. Improved transportation and communication makes core urban area and its periphery into a single metropolitan region.

The jurisdictional boundaries of local governments tend to have a long history, but the urban growth often change an area’s character over time. Therefore, a metropolitan region usually includes a number of independent local government jurisdictions.

As metropolitan areas emerge and grow, the need for metropolitan-level management increases. Metropolitan regions usually need some form of institutional arrangements – either formal or informal ones – to coordinate their development or undertake some joint functions for more efficient, seamless and equitable service provision and cost sharing, in addition to efforts by each individual local government.

Many different Metropolitan management models exist across the globe. Different Metropolitan Regions across the world exhibit different characteristics. No one size fits all. This discussion paper by GIZ and UN-Habitat can help the policymakers/academia as a reference point for evolving/refining a suitable governance model for a metropolitan region.

PDF:   Link  (78 pages, 2.11 MB)

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The State of Asian and Pacific Cities 2015


Many parts of Asia and the Pacific are developing into industrial/ travel towns of the world. This has helped many a countries to lift millions of people in the region out of poverty. But the transformations have come at considerable environmental costs. Even the reduction in income poverty is not multi-dimensional. Other dimensions of poverty, such as inadequate housing, or lack of access to safe water and sanitation have not been fully addressed. All these challenges remain throughout the region.

The public and private sector have, over time, made many Asian and Pacific cities highly competitive in the global economy. This has often happened at the expense of governments’ traditional roles in assuring domestic equity, equality and sustainability. Consequently, a significant share of the population remains exposed to low wages, poor work conditions, etc.

Comprehensive public sector-led urban planning has, in general, also weakened in the pursuit of economic growth and it would now be prudent for the governments to start reviewing their urban, social and environmental governance modalities to determine what reforms will be required to guide developments into more desirable and sustainable future directions.

These issues are explored in-depth in this report of the ESCAP and UN-Habitat.

PDF: Link    (204 pages, 3.28 MB)

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Global Urban Lectures

“In April 2014 UN-Habitat has launched the Global Urban Lectures – lecture packages focused on subjects related to cities and urbanization. The Global Urban Lecture series is an online repository of 15 minute video lectures that make available knowledge and experience of experts associated with UN-Habitat.

Each lecture package consists of a synopsis of the lecture, biography of the speaker, links to associated materials for in-depth study, and the 15 min video. The series was launched with 20 lectures, and more to follow shortly. Currently available lectures include: ‘Making room for a planet of cities’ – Shlomo (Solly) Angel – Stern School of Business, New York University; ‘Slums: past, present and future’ – Eugenie Birch – University of Pennsylvania; Citizen roles in resilient cities’ – Ron Dembo – Zerofootprint; ‘Incremental Housing – The new site & services’ – Reinhard Goethert – Massachusetts Institute of Technology; ‘Participation in practice’ – Nabeel Hamdi – Oxford Brookes University;  ‘Value Capture as a land based tool to finance development’ – Martim Smolka –Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.”



The full packages of the lectures can be accessed from


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The Challenge of Slums

The Challenge of Slums“This report is mainly concerned with the shelter conditions of the majority of the urban poor. It is about how the poor struggle to survive within urban areas, mainly through informal shelter and informal income-generation strategies, and about the inadequacy of both public and market responses to the plight of the urban poor. But the report is also about hope, about building on the foundations of the urban poor’s survival strategies and about what needs to be done by both the public and non-governmental sectors.


As this report emphasizes, slums are a manifestation of the two main challenges facing human settlements viz., rapid urbanization and the urbanization of poverty. This report explores both the negative and positive aspects of slums.


Many past responses to the problem of urban slums have been based on the erroneous belief that provision of improved housing and related services (through slum upgrading) and physical eradication of slums will, on their own, solve the slum problem. Solutions based on this premise have failed to address the main underlying causes of slums, of which poverty is the most significant.


The report therefore emphasizes the need for future policies to support the livelihoods of the urban poor by enabling urban informal-sector activities to flourish and develop, by linking low-income housing development to income generation, and by ensuring easy geographical access to jobs through pro-poor transport and more appropriate location of low- income settlements. Slum policies should in fact be integrated within broader, people-focused urban poverty reduction policies that address the various dimensions of poverty.”



(345 Pages, 2.39 MB)

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Urban Planning for City Leaders

Urban Planning for City Leaders“World is rapidly becoming predominantly urban. Cities offer opportunities for unleashing economic potential, increasing energy efficiency, reducing inequities, and creating sustainable livelihoods for all. History has shown that urbanization leads to development. It is also clear that urbanization is a source rather than simply a by-product of development. While Africa and Asia are among the least urbanized continents, they also have the fastest rates of urbanization in the world.


Growing cities and towns in developing countries face additional challenges, such as high percentages of people living in slums; expansion and dominance of the informal sector; inadequate urban basic services, especially water, sanitation and energy; unplanned peri-urban expansion; social and political conflict over land resources; high levels of vulnerability to natural disasters; and poor mobility systems. If cities are to play their role as drivers of economic and social development, these challenges have to be addressed through effective planning and governance.


Unfortunately, many developing countries lack strategies for urban planning and design. Urban planning, where it happens, tends to be inadequate for addressing the many challenges which are endemic to rapid expansion.  Appropriate urban planning for developing economies can be simple, enforceable, flexible, and responsive to shifting local needs. With sufficient capacity and more appropriate urban planning, countries can tap the opportunity for development which urbanization represents.


This Guide by the UN-HABITAT and Siemens has been designed to fill the gap between the technical and the policy dimensions of urban planning and to help local leaders to better communicate with their planning departments.”


(188 pp, 6.24 MB)

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Property Tax Regimes in Europe


Property Tax Regimes in Europe

Property Tax Regimes in Europe “More than 50% of the global population is now residing in the urban areas. India is also urbanizing fast. Urban areas need resources to build their infrastructure to reap the benefits of urbanisation. Public finance experts regard taxes on immovable property as a suitable source of revenue for local governments.

 This UN-HABITAT report surveys European property tax regimes. It thematically discusses policies and practices integral to these regimes and attempts to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the various features of property tax systems. While varied property tax regimes have been documented, some of the innovative and good practices listed can be used by local governments to strengthen their revenue system”.


(84 pages, 1.22 MB)

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Urban Trends and Policy in China

Urban Trends and Policy in China“China has become the world’s largest urban nation, with over 600 million urban citizens today. Urban population in China is expected to reach 900 million in 2030. Till recently, China had anti-urban bias in its policies. However, now China boasts a number of million plus cities and metropolitan regions that are engines of its economic growth.

 In historical terms, urbanisation is a relatively new phenomenon in China, and government is still seeking to better understand its scale, underlying processes, stimuli, impacts, costs, and benefits to inform more effective public policy.

 The OECD Regional Development Working Paper describes urban growth trends in China, where and in what kinds of cities growth is happening, how China’s cities are governed, and how public policy has influenced the extent, pace, and spatial distribution of urbanisation. As China continues to integrate with the global economy, its competitiveness will increasingly be driven by the capacities of its metropolitan regions. The rapid urbanisation process has important policy implications for China and beyond.

 The report concludes with a description of some of the key policy challenges facing central and local urban governments in this global context, including: i) institutional constraints to markets and factor mobility; ii) environmental challenges; iii) ensuring equity and helping vulnerable groups; and iv)  metropolitan governance.”


PDF: ( 70 pages; 2.62 MB)

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The State of China’s Cities 2012/2013

The State of China's Cities 2012 2013

 “More than 50% of the global population lives in the cities. Modern cities are, unarguably, our engines of economic growth and wealth creation, as well as enduring human institutions for self-actualization through employment generation. However, when not properly managed, the manner in which this process occurs may well undermine the dynamism, equity and sustainability as well as prosperity.

 The rapid industrialization of China has led to unprecedented level of urbanization in China. Since 1978, the urban population has increased by about 500 million. Such a level of internal migration from rural areas to the cities is unprecedented, and has coincided with the emergence of its economic might. The opportunities and challenges posed in the wake of such rapid urbanization in China offers valuable lessons for a country like India.

 The State of China’s Cities 2012/2013 is a collection of contributions from UN Habitat, China Science Centre of International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, China Association of Mayors and Chinese Society of Urban Planning. The collection of articles give details of urbanization process in China, urban housing construction, urban environment, urban infrastructure, disaster reduction, community and social services, urban planning etc.

 This publication captures new initiatives taken by the central and local governments of China to make the life of rural migrants equitable to those of urban residents in terms of security of employment, education, pension, medical care and housing; programme to build 36 million flats for low income families in cities between 2011 to 2015, consolidate institutions for disaster reduction and prevention, expansion of poverty reduction programmes in rural China, and efforts to build and demonstrate low carbon eco cities and communities. Understanding these programmes and policies can provide useful knowledge and lessons to many cities in India and around the World.”

 PDF: (112 pages, 3.7 MB)


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