During February 2021 over 300 academics from across the world exchanged ideas on planning, law, and property rights in eleven online sessions, and 12 doctoral researchers took part in a corresponding doctoral workshop. The online session series was organized by the International Academic Organization on Planning, Law, and Property Rights (PLPR).
PLPR emerged in 2008 from the Thematic Group of the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) and has developed into an independent global association with the aim of promoting scientific discussion on planning, law and property rights. The PLPR usually organizes its annual meeting in February (see www.plpr-association.org). Instead, this year a series of online sessions on various key topics was held.
The thematic sessions addressed eight relevant topics of planning, law, and property rights, such as the provision of affordable housing, climate change, land policy, informal spatial development, dealing with agricultural land, land value depreciation, national spatial planning, and blockchain technologies.
Although each session was planned for 90 minutes with 4-6 speakers and a subsequent discussion, often a large group of participants stayed in the online meeting for up to an hour afterto continue the discussions. During the session on the extraction of added value, the question of the legitimation of such a strategy was at the core of the discussion - stimulated by experiences from Europe and South America.
Almost all sessions attracted more than 50 academics from all continents. The session on informal planning, with more than 90 participants, attracted the most attention, with a division into informal planning in the global South and informal planning in developed countries fuelled an intensive discussion on the perception and handling of informality.
The sessions were organised in a way that enabled active participation from across the global community. Sessions took place not only at 2pm but also in the evening from 9pm or in the morning at 7am (CET). As a result, contributions from Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa, as well as South and North America could be brought together. In particular, it was possible to involve academics in a discourse who normally find it difficult to take part in international conferences due to budgetary restrictions. The very active integration of the chat function in the sessions also encouraged colleagues who were less confident in the English language to take part. This fuelled the debate and made the event very inclusive.
A highlight was the PhD workshop organized by Sofija Nikolić Popadić (University of Belgrade), the PhD coordinator of PLPR. Twelve PhD researchers discussed their research questions and design as well as their publication strategy with Linda McElduff (Ulster University) and Thomas Hartmann (Wageningen University), who acted as mentors. The doctoral students were grateful for the intensive exchange that they missed in the wake of the pandemic.
At the end of the event, the traditional flag ceremony took place, in which the PLPR flag was handed over to the next organizer of the conference - Hans Leinfelder from KU Leuven. The next PLPR conference will take place from 7th to 11th February 2022 in Ghent, Belgium (see www.plpr-association.org for more details in due course).