Planners can support the spectrum of humanitarian needs (Source: UNOCHA)

Planning is a future-oriented profession that uses a holistic view to solve complex and dynamic problems in an urban context. Planners work on plans and programs with local governments and communities to develop cities and communities that maximize health, safety, and support sustainable economic development. Urban planners work with communities to guide discussion and action on how to address the complex problems of urban systems through facilitation between local stakeholders and officials. In a time of crisis when the immediate problem is at on the forefront, a planner’s ability to think in the long term can be a great asset.

Planners are trained to perceive the interconnectedness between issues and identify unlikely relationships. Planning across both environmental and conflict-related disasters, aims to create adaptable spaces. Planners themselves must be adaptable by being receptive to the community’s needs and providing the tools to create unique solutions. Planners seek to integrate all members of a community into decision-making, including those that may be marginalized by conventional processes.

From guiding decisions about land use and infrastructure to transportation design to the provision of basic services, and to developing plans for long-term reconstruction and recovery, planners have a unique skill set to prevent new crises from emerging and mitigate impact of existing crises.

…A planner's job is to work with residents and elected officials to guide the layout of an entire community or region. Planners take a broad view and look at how the pieces of a community—buildings, roads, and parks — fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Planners then make recommendations on how the community should proceed. One of the greatest challenges for planners is to imagine what can and should happen to a community: how it should grow and change, and what it should offer residents 10, 15, or even 20 years into the future. (The American Planning Association 2020)

Our Objectives

As members of the Global Alliance for Urban Crisis, we are working tougher on initiatives focused on four thematic objectives:

THEME 1 Adapting Urban Tools

Tailoring humanitarian response to the urban context by developing shared assessment and profiling tools, promoting joint analysis, and adapting coordination mechanisms.

Issues: A large amount of displacement projected, US will need "36 more Chicagos" to deal with project climate refugees. Most places lack a strategy. Xenophobia, etc. Global South to Global North migration dynamics. Global South to Global South migration dynamics.

Opportunities: Population for Rust Belt Cities, Global Trade, Entrepreneurship, Federal Resources for Local Governments, Economic Development Strategy.

Case Studies: Welcoming America Program, Philly, West Chester, ORR, WORC.

THEME 2 Mobilizing Urban Experience

Developing or working with existing global, regional, and national rosters to facilitate the deployment of urban leaders, managers, and technical experts.

Issues: Planners are often not part of the humanitarian response team. If they are, they are often thought of as extensions to architectural or engineering trades.

Opportunities: Consolidation and more efficient use of resources, increased stakeholder engagement, integration of research, and empirical design tools, comprehensive monitoring, and evaluation, target inclusion of marginalized groups, solutions responsible to cultural and environmental context

Case Studies: CARE International, Save the Children, IRC


THEME 3 Managing Urban Displacement

Building the evidence base on characteristics of protracted displacement in urban areas and contributing to the design of appropriate and cost-effective responses, with particular regard to the protection of vulnerable people, shelter, basic services and infrastructure.

Issues: Planning tools are not deployed to their fullest capability or underutilized in the humanitarian context. We need to rethink traditional planning tools for new contexts. Planners and planning practices can add value.

Opportunities: Planners can address the challenges of conducting the census with informal communities, refugees, and marginalized groups

Case Studies: JIPPS- Urban Profiling, Urban Context Analysis Toolkit, Techo


THEME 4 Building Urban Resilience

Ensuring initiatives that are focused on building urban resilience incorporate components on resilient response and recovery from crises, and that they leverage the greatest impact in cities most at risk of humanitarian emergencies.

 Issues: Most cities are not doing resilience planning at multiple needed scales. Need crossover between humanitarian response planning and urban planning

Opportunities: Planners can bridge the immediate humanitarian needs with long term planning and development

Case Studies: UNDRR, GFDRR, Bangladesh cyclone preparation