Surveyors, planners demand sustainable urban future for Commonwealth cities
Fresh prospects may be on the card for surveyors and planners seeking a new agenda for sustainable development, if statements made recently by Commonwealth heads are anything to go by.
Apparently bothered that Commonwealth Heads of Government have not harnessed the technology and knowledge within the countries, built environment groups led by Commonwealth Association of Surveyors and Land Economy (CASLE) and Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) sought Commonwealth government intervention to assist local government, private sector and civil society raise awareness on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
They urged Commonwealth to build on the recently adopted United Nations International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning, which set out a global framework for improving policies, plans and implementation processes for more compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities and territories.
“These building blocks provide an excellent base on which the can build. But it does mean fully embracing the need for local action and for the mobilisation of local government, civil society and the private sector as partners, “according to them.
In a submission to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta recently, the groups from Australia, Belize, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Malta, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom are seeking dedicated commonwealth SDG programme, which relies on the state of the commonwealth cities scheme adopted by the Heads at a meeting in Port of Spain and utilizing the potential of research and information technology to better inform policy and manage places.
They say, the new agenda for sustainable development and related SDGs provide Commonwealth leaders with unprecedented opportunity to shift the world into a path of inclusive, sustainable and resilient development. “It is an agenda of action for people, the planetary prosperity – it recognizes that eradicating poverty in all forms including extreme poverty is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.”
In their demands, CPA and CASLE said: “We draw particular attention to Goal 11, which seeks to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This marks an important shift in direction from the previous MDGs, by highlighting the need for action in the places where people live.
“It is in these places where words need to translate into deeds, whether in mega-cities like Mumbai which drive national economies, or in villages vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on agriculture and livelihoods. It is at this local level that we need to plan if we are to achieve the integration of the 17 goals. This is where resources need to be targeted to achieve win-win outcomes, connecting sanitation and shelter, gender equality and economic growth, participatory governance and resilience.”
The professionals recommended that all Commonwealth countries should urgently prepare integrated strategies, policies and programmes, informed by long-term strategic vision, participatory processes and local context, for the implementation of the SDGs.
“They should establish nationally specific and binding measures for monitoring the achievement of the SDGs, and engage with local government and civil society in this process. We recommend all countries to establish nationally specific and binding goals and targets to monitor the achievement of the SDGs.”
They also urge Commonwealth Heads to empower civil society and other spheres of government to play a full role in the delivery of the SDGs through awareness raising, capacity building and resource allocation, as well as through dialogue, information collection and knowledge sharing, using new technologies to enhance civil society participation
The groups called on Commonwealth governments to establish nationally specific and binding goals and targets for monitoring the achievement of the SDGs. We urge governments to undertake legislative and regulatory reform to build a solid framework to help deliver a sustainable urban future.
CASLE President, Segun Ajanlekoko told The Guardian that their submission was adopted in Malta by the Commonwealth Heads of Government and they foresee further meetings to actualize their demands.
He called Commonwealth Heads of Government to lead by example in expressing their commitment to planning and implementing the SDGs over the next 15 years in partnership with other spheres of government and with the built environment professionals in all its forms, including the private sector.
“We see the need for far greater awareness of the SDGs in all ministries in all Commonwealth national governments, but also amongst the general public and decision makers. This requires clear policy and programme directives from Commonwealth national governments,” he said
CASLE urges Commonwealth Heads to take the lead and add global value by committing to the actions recommended in their statement to address the new agenda for sustainable development.
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