25th EAROPH World Congress: Our Urban Futures – Sustainable And Resilient

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  • 2016•08•17     Kota Kinabalu

    The Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlements (EAROPH) held its 25th World Congress during August 9-11, 2016 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. The congress, hosted by the State Government of Sabah and the City Council of Kota Kinabalu, focused on sustainable and resilient urban futures.

    Over 200 participants representing 9 countries gathered to discuss sustainability and resilience in cities in the context of rapid environmental change and urbanisation. Topics ranged from theory to policy and implementation, covering scales from local to global and featuring regional case studies. Such issues are relevant not only to EAROPH member states, but to all countries as they face the global urban transition. One focal point at the EAROPH Congress was the upcoming United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) and the associated New Urban Agenda, which will shape urban development and policy for the next 20 years, and how the planning community can position itself to better contribute.

    UNU-IIGH was proud to support this transdisciplinary congress with an international key note address delivered by Dr Trevor Hancock, Professor and Senior Scholar at the University of Victoria, and a leader in healthy public policy. A key message in his address was that the concept of resiliency as returning to original functions after a shock is insufficient, especially many economic, environmental, and social shocks that cities experience are a result of the “business as usual” model. Rather, resilient cities need to be able to grow toward new stable-states in response to a changing world – stable-states that are healthier and more sustainable than what exists today.

    UNU-IIGH was also represented by Dr José Siri and Dr David Tan. Dr Siri presented a plenary address on “Planning for Health in the Urban Transition,” highlighting the need for urban planners, guided by systems thinking, to take a role in addressing growing challenges in urban health. Also emphasized was UNU-IIGH’s new research project entitled “Systems Thinking and Place-Based Methods for Healthier Malaysian Cities” (SCHEMA). SCHEMA is examining how systems thinking and place-based methods can be used to improve health in the urban Malaysian context. During 2016-7, it will particularly concentrate on the role of green infrastructure in mitigating urban heat islands and their attendant negative effects on health. SCHEMA is joint collaboration between UNU-IIGH and the Sustainable Places Research Institute at Cardiff University, funded by the British Council’s Newton-Ungku Omar Fund.