What is Our City Plans?
Our City Plans is a global toolbox that guides and supports local governments and urban actors to better understand, customise, and develop inclusive and integrated urban planning processes, using a participatory and incremental methodology that adapts to their needs and local context.
Participatory Mapping in Bolama, Guinea Bissau, UN-Habitat
Workshop in Yangon, Myanmar, UN-Habitat
By guiding users through an adaptable step-by-step methodology, actionable instructions, and simple and approachable language, Our City Plans democratises and articulates a comprehensive planning framework developed and utilised by UN-Habitat.
Organised according to the assessment, plan, operationalisation, and implementation phases, it includes 12 thematic blocks and 58 activities, linking them to tools, templates and additional resources from UN-Habitat and external partners.
City leaders, planners and other planning stakeholders are able to customise their own journey and process based on their available resources, and map their progress and activity status. They can also reach out to access UN-Habitat's support, guidance, training, expertise and resources.
Our City Plans digital platform aims to become a living product and a platform for knowledge exchange. Users are able to share their project experiences, tools, resources, local best practices, and connect with cities and teams. They will actively contribute to improve Our City Plans, link their experiences and local expertise, and provide feedback to keep improving the methodology and toolbox.
Workshop in Maleka, Malaysia, UN-Habitat
Vision Workshop in São Tomé, São Tomé & Príncipe, UN-Habitat
Background and Context
Our City Plans has been developed by a multidisciplinary team inside UN-Habitat in a collaborative effort between different branches, sections and Regional Offices, steered by the Urban Practices Branch – Planning Finance and Economy Section and the Global Network of Urban Labs. The toolbox is the result of UN-Habitat's work in over 100 participatory planning processes implemented in different global contexts since 2014 by UN-Habitat and partner organisations.
As demographic pressure keeps rising, small and intermediate cities tend to urbanise faster, facing additional challenges. To absorb the rapid increase in population, cities need to identify priorities and develop integrated and participatory planning processes, to adequately address the urgent need for sustainable urban development. To develop urban plans successfully, planning processes need to be flexible, inclusive, and have the capacity to adapt to the specific context they are implemented in.
Our City Plans consolidates the most relevant planning tools, best practices and methodologies of UN-Habitat and partners for the development of strategic, city-wide and neighbourhood planning processes. It is a key resource for UN-Habitat, as it links a variety of tools from the agency and promotes the integration of other tools from external partners. The methodology's success and contribution to the field are reflected in its demand – it is the 2nd most downloaded publication of UN-Habitat.
The first version of Our City Plans was launched at WUF10 in February 2020, formerly called PIUP – Participatory Incremental Urban Planning toolbox. A second version was published in 2021. The dissemination of the toolbox and event kickstarted an Our City Plans global community that has continued to grow, and today has more than 1000 members.
A customisable and adaptable urban planning process
The toolbox recognises the importance of defining a process framework rather than a design framework in urban planning. It is incremental and flexible, as it allows planners, city leaders, and other stakeholders to tailor their planning process according to their context. They can choose whether to run the entire process or focus only on specific outputs, depending on their scope, resources and priorities. Additionally, as blocks and activities are modular, they can be selected and saved according to the local conditions and available resources, creating simplified or more comprehensive paths. Various activities can be conducted independently or simultaneously with others, depending on the expertise of the technical team and the availability of time and resources.
The customised planning process is supported by an assessment Questionnaire integrated into the digital platform, and followed by a Self-Assessment Workshop, in which the technical team and the political representatives identify the objectives, key outputs, and activities to conduct. Our City Plans toolbox provides guidelines to develop and implement urban plans with different levels of details, scales and scopes: Strategic Development Plan, Land Management Plan, Sectoral Plan and Neighbourhood Plan.
How can Our City Plans help you?
Lead and oversee the strategic steps of the urban planning process
- Align your city strategy to global agendas and international standards.
- Provide a strategic overview of the whole planning process and the critical activities you should be involved in.
- Have a clear understanding of the key deliverables (and the importance of citizens' participation in urban planning processes.
- Access a global community of practice and connect with companies, organisations, private sector, investors and technical experts.
Technical development of the urban planning process and planning documents
- Guide the step-by-step implementation of a participatory and sustainable urban planning process that adapts to your needs and context.
- Align your planning process to meet the requirements of international standards and global agendas.
- Explore and deepen on the specific topics and urban issues that are important for your city.
- Promote participatory processes and stakeholder engagement throughout the planning process.
- Be part of a global community of practice and share knowledge and experiences with cities around the world.
Other urban stakeholders
Provide accountability, disseminate and support inclusive urban planning processes
- Identify the critical steps that influence urban policies, programmes, plans and projects.
- Understand how your city is planned and how it should involve various stakeholders.
- Identify activities and tools that support planning processes in your city.