Special Session "Resilient Public Spaces for Healthy Living" - 58th ISOCARP World Planning Congress, 5th October 2022, Bruxelles, Belgium

The International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) annual World Planning Congresses bring planners, urbanists, allied professionals in the building professions, and place-makers from all over the world together in inclusive dialogue to facilitate knowledge exchange.

The ISOCARP and the Brussels-Capital Region hosted the 58th World Planning Congress under the theme: "From Wealthy to Healthy Cities" through virtual and in-person presentations. The Virtual Congress was on 22-23 September 2022, and the in-person Congress took place from 3rd October to 6th October 2022 in Brussels, in the historic resorted venue which received the Europa Nostra Heritage award in 2021. 

The Special Session "Resilient Public Spaces for Healthy Living" was co-organized by Prof. Dr. Sebnem Hoskara (Urban Research and Development Center, Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus) and Dr. Luisa Bravo (City Space Architecture, Italy), both TG PSUC members. Dr. Ceren Sezer (RWTH Aachen University) holds the role of AESOP TG PSUC Representative.

Cities are made up of people and places, often experiencing rapid change. Planning for a resilient urban future requires tackling challenges and creating solutions place-based, integrated, inclusive, risk-aware, and forward-looking.
Sustainable Development Goal 11, with the title "sustainable cities and communities," is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The official mission of SDG 11 is to "make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable." According to SDG11 of the New Urban Agenda, by 2030, everyone - particularly women and children, older persons, and persons with disabilities - will have access to safe, inclusive, and accessible green areas and public spaces.
Public spaces play an essential role in building resilience in cities. Public spaces are crucial for urban life to flourish. We need public spaces for good times and bad times. Public spaces represent an opportunity for comprehensive climate adaptation and improved resilience. According to Katherine Peinhardt of the German Development Institute, ‘to successfully work toward a resilient public realm, cities must evolve their practice relating to public spaces in four areas: the ways public spaces are subject to the outcomes of community engagement and how public spaces are designed, programmed, and managed. It is increasingly clear that the unique role of public spaces in civic life positions them to enhance physical resilience and support the types of interpersonal connections essential to addressing shared challenges like the climate crisis.’ Thus, as a vital part of a city’s physical infrastructure and public realm, public spaces can be physically reinforced to absorb or weather the climate crisis's shocks while contributing to the community's human health.

Short Description of the session
This special session included scholars/experts representing international organizations - AESOP, ISOCARP and CSA, sharing their experiences about ‘Resilient Public Spaces for Healthy Living’ from their perspectives. Accordingly, this special session intends to search for answers to the following - but not limited to - questions:
• What is the role of public space in creating resilient cities?
• Can public spaces be designed in such a way that they support better resilience and healthy living in cities?
• What is the role of resilient public spaces for healthy living?
• How can we promote resiliency and healthy living through public spaces?
• Can we create positive transformation and better resilience in cities through the good design of public spaces?
• Can public spaces provide networks of resilience through our cities?

Objectives of the session
• Initiating international discussing questions on the Resilient Public Spaces for Healthy Living.
• Understanding the potential of public spaces for healthy living.
• Understanding the role of resilient public spaces in the positive transformation of cities.
• Learning from successful & unsuccessful examples of public spaces.

Introduction to the theme | Prof.Dr. Şebnem Hoşkara, EMU URDC & CSA | Dr. Luisa Bravo, CSA
“Rethinking Public Space for Climate Resilience and Action at University Campuses” | Dr. Ceren Sezer, RWTH Aachen University & AESOP TG PSUC
“Towards Inclusive, Integrated and Resilient Public Spaces: The Narratives of Gulf Cities Enhancing Healthy Living” | Prof.Dr. Ali A. Alraouf, HBKU, Education City & International Society of City Planners (ISOCARP)
“Public Libraries: Public Spaces in Plain Sight” | Anna Weng Ian Au, Ph.D. Candidate, Vienna University of Technology & City Space
Architecture (CSA)
Q & A / Discussion session
Final remarks