Report AESOP Lecture Series / Lecture 13

Simin Davoudi

New Frontiers for Spatial Planning in Times of Uncertainty: Dealing with Climate Change and Environmental Risks


On the 1st of November 2018, the 13th AESOP Lecture Series was held in Tirana, Albania. The event was co-organized by POLIS University and AESOP. The event was held at Tirana International Hotel between 17:00-20:00. The topic of the Lecture Series was on New Frontiers for Spatial Planning in Times of Uncertainty: Dealing with Climate Change and Environmental Risks which is a highly interesting and relevant topic for the planning community.The lecture series was chaired by Ledio Allkja and included three presentations/lectures from Prof. Besnik Aliaj (Rector of POLIS University), Prof Simin Davoudi (Newcastle University) and Dr. Rudina Toto (POLIS University).  In the event there were around 150 participants composed of students of planning, environmental studies and architecture, academic staff from POLIS University and other universities in Albania, representatives of local and central planning authorities as well as participants from other institutions working in planning and environment in Albania.

A small reception was held before the event during the registration and associated with coffee and tea. The lecture series started with a short introduction by Ledio Allkja, and then afterwards Prof Paulo Pinho (AESOP Secretary General) continued with a short introduction of AESOP, its role and activities and the introduction for the lecture series. Following that, Prof Besnik Aliaj, held a presentation focusing on the paramount challenge of climate change as well as the evolution of planning in Albania. This presentation helped in setting the context for the lecture series for the audience. The lecture had a chronological evolution of Albania with a special focus on spatial development and planning.

Prof Simin Davoudi was the keynote speaker of the lecture series Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning and Director of Global Urban Research Unit (GURU) at Newcastle University. Her presentation focused on the topic of “Uncertainty, Resilience and Adaptive Planning”. The lecture from Prof Davoudi entailed a theoretical and conceptual explanation of the evolution of planning, its challenges as a result of uncertainty due to climate challenges and the ways we can look at redefining the role of planning in nowadays society. Davoudi made a strong conclusion about the role of adaptive planning focusing on three main pillars: agile institutional frameworks; reflexive and networked planners and inclusive processes.

The last presentation was held by Dr. Rudina Toto, offering an overview of local planning in Albania with a special focus on climate change and resilience issues. As explained also by prof B. Aliaj the planning system in Albania has evolved quickly over the last decade. Several plans at the national and local level have been drafted by national and local authorities. Toto, in her presentation made a review of different local practices with regard to planning and climate change issue. Part of her presentation was a content analysis of 12 General Local Planning documents. The results show that even in the case of Albania, although there exist different approaches there are attempts and initiatives to deal with climate change through the planning processes.

In the end a general discussion was held between the audience and a panel composed by the three speakers Aliaj, Davoudi and Toto. The discussion was quite interesting and lasted for 45 min. The event was livestreamed in POLIS University facebook page. Meanwhile the whole event has been recorded and a video of the whole lecture series has been produced: