This year there were 85 self-nominated papers, of which 28 papers were submitted by May 19th deadline. From the submitted self-nominated papers, each track nominated one paper, with one alternative if necessary, or forwarded none in case there was no paper that met the selection criteria. The BCPA Committee reviewed 7 papers by applying the following criteria: Relevance to current debates on the chosen topic; Sound theoretical framework; Clarity of argument(s); Originality of the approach and the ideas presented; High methodological and empirical quality of research; Clarity of expression and quality of presentation. 

The Committee is delighted to announce that this year’s Best Congress Paper Award goes to Binita Mahato of Auburn University (USA), paper ‘Park Segregation and Park Access: An Environmental Justice Inquiry of Urban Parks in Montgomery, Alabama’ (Track 9 / Planning for Inclusive, Multicultural and Just Cities)

The paper addresses the inherent and unconscious bias in access to parks in Montgomery, Alabama, USA. The study discusses the legacy of segregation within an urban context. Such discourse is highly relevant to civil rights as well as planning in a sensitive geographical area like Alabama. The author brings the issue of access to the fore by approaching it as an 'environmental justice inquiry' with strong methodological and empirical bases. The study includes the historical background on both social and park design fronts. The presented research provides evidence and argumentation for a challenging but necessary dialogue. It also contributes to reframing of planning action and relationship of parks with their neighborhoods along with other long-standing issues (e.g., housing, services, etc).

Paper ‘Understanding implementation of a strategic tool in planning law – national diversification by implementation: Regional planning strategies, RPS, in Norway’ by Ulla Higdem and Aksel Hagen of Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (Norway) received a high commendation (Track 6 / Planning for Democracy and Governance)

This article addresses the most urgent and current spatial planning and governance issues. It concerns the strategic and integrated planning and focuses on assessing the effectiveness of planning documents, i.e., ways of understanding and implementing regional planning strategies. The observed practices are presented to demonstrate the explanatory power of theories about translation and re-contextualization in implementation. The paper contributes to new knowledge of how new strategic elements unfold within a country's law through its implementation in practice. Even though the article deals with spatial planning in Norway, the research approach makes it accessible and useful in other regions and countries.

AESOP Best Congress Paper Award Committee: Zorica Nedovic-Budic, Chair (University College Dublin, Ireland / University of Illinois, USA), Nadia Caruso (Politecnico di Torino, Italy), Tijana Dabovic (University of Belgrade,Serbia), Jose Antunes Ferreira (Tecnico Lisboa, Portugal), Divya Leducq (Université de Lille, France), Enza Lissandrello (Aalborg University, Denmark), Naja Marot (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), Talia Margalith (Tel Aviv University, Israel), Javier Martinez (University of Twente, ITC, The Netherlands), Izabela Mironovwicz (University of Gdańsk, Poland), Sofia Morgado (Faculda de de Arquitetura da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal), Elena Pede (Politecnico di Torino, Italy), Ana Peric (ETH Zurich, Switzerland / University College Dublin, Ireland), Sina Shahab (Cardiff University, UK), Elisavet Thoidou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), Brendan Williams (University College Dublin, Ireland)