An AESOP Project is a specific task or initiative, intended to enhance and strengthen the activities of the Association.

Decade of Planning 2011-2020

An initiative is open to all planning organizations

As a result of an unprecedented economic and technological progress in the final decades of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, the new industrial cities faced rapid and uncontrolled growth, which in turn led to unparalleled social misery and squalor. The need for intervention became urgent and unavoidable, whether from social activists, enlightened philanthropists, progressive politicians, new professionals or even more far-sighted industrialists who realised that healthier workers were also more productive workers. Planning, often rooted in housing and neighbourhood building, emerged as a new profession.

The emergence of planning was reflected in:

  • the development of new legal frameworks and other regulations which enabled the new generation of urban interventionists to start providing first improvements in the urban environment, especially urgent housing (i.e. UK Act on Housing and Planning, 1909);
  • the creation of a new scientific discipline in university education (i.e. University of Liverpool 1909);
  • the establishment of professional organisations, movements and institutions at the national and international level to facilitate the exchange of new ideas, information and knowledge: Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA, 1899), Société Française des Urbanistes (SFU, 1911), International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP, 1913), Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI, 1914);
  • new visions and holistic urban design concepts, such as the Garden City.

One hundred years on, cities again have to face challenges that in a number of fundamental ways are not dissimilar to when planning was first established – the liveability of cities, the quality of life, social cohesion in neighbourhoods, functional and green public spaces, healthy cities, affordable housing. The nature of the problems and the specific issues and challenges are, however, vaster, more complicated and essentially different.

What is also different is the growing marginalisation of the planning profession despite these new challenges, due to the need to reduce public spending and government interventions in the light of the financial and economic crisis, and the perception by many governments that it is an obstacle to economic recovery and growth (the FROG-syndrome – First Restore Our Growth). More fundamental is the increasing inability of the planning profession to make an impact with the traditional tools and methods proven over the years, given the complexity, dynamism and unpredictability of the contemporary society. It truly needs to re-orientate, even reinvent itself to make an impact on these major issues and reflect its new role in the organization of society and the global economy and environment.

Many of the aforementioned institutions are still playing an active role in the field of planning and will be celebrating their centenaries in the next few years. These anniversaries provide an excellent opportunity to bring planning into a more positive light and into the realms of public debate.

Other organizations – like AESOP – established in the course of these 100 years will also be celebrating their Silver (AESOP, 1987) or Golden (ISOCARP 1965) Jubilees in this period.

The proposal is to declare the forthcoming years the DECADE OF PLANNING, as a sort of ‘umbrella framework’ for these jubilee celebrations. This would have two major advantages:

  • an opportunity for planners, urban professionals and politicians to exploit this opportunity and discuss the issues involved in this re-orientation / re-invention directed at fundamental new ways of improving the liveability and quality of life in the cities of tomorrow;
  • to ensure that there is a broader synchronisation of activities, products and ideas emanating from those organisations celebrating their centenaries and jubilees in this decade. This would mean a cross-fertilization of ideas, and an accumulation of publicity and attention rather than a competition for it.

The concept of the Decade of Planning has been prepared by AESOP, ECTP-CEU and IFHP on the basis of the series of meetings that took place in 2009, 2010 and 2011 in Brussels on inivtation of President of ECTP-CEU. In September 2011 during the ECTP 9th Biennial of Towns & Town Planners in Europe in Genova the project was finally structured and presented to the wide public.

The cooperation between the organizations would include:

  • activities/products that these organizations are running separately, but in close and friendly cooperation with other partners (i.e. annual congresses, on-going projects and activities);
  • joint projects that partners decide to launch and run together.

The first joint projects of the Decade of Planning are:

  • European Urban Summer School for young planning professionals (AESOP, ECTP-CEU, IFHP, ISOCARP): a concept based on current AESOP EUSS that will be developed into AESOP—ECTP-CEU—IFHP—ISOCARP EUSS and would become the most significant summer school for young planning professionals;
  • AESOP-IFHP Lecture Series designed as a highlight of both the Silver Jubilee of AESOP (2012) and the Centenary of IFHP (2013).