44th ISOCARP Congress: Consumption patterns need to change

Urban areas are spreading, minimising the time and distances between and in-and-out of cities. The International Planning Congress in Dalian, China (19-23 September 2008), addressed this ‘urban sprawl’ and sought ways to achieve sustainable urbanisation. The European Environment Agency contributed to this debate by urging policy makers to tackle underpinning consumption patterns.

Urban sprawl is not driven principally by population growth but by changing lifestyles and consumption patterns as well as lenient, service-driven planning policies. “We need action to address the three urban-related consumption areas that have been identified as having the highest environmental impacts during their lifecycle: housing, food and drink, and private transport which, together, are responsible for about 65% of material use and 70% of global warming potential” said Ronan Uhel, Head of the EEA Spatial Analysis group.

Structural policies play a key role in either promoting or preventing urban sprawl. In the European Union, significant  budget transfers from the Cohesion Fund and the Structural Funds to member states provide powerful drivers of macroeconomic change to support European integration. But the Agency’s analysis shows that they have also had inadvertent socio-economic effects that have promoted the development of urban sprawl.

Urban sprawl in Europe: some figures

By 2020 80% of Europeans will live Urban areas instead of current 72%. In some countries this percentage will be 90% or more. Today more than a quarter of the European Union’s territory is negatively impacted by urban land uptake, due in particular to urban sprawl, which is affecting towns and cities of all sizes across Europe. In the past 10 years alone, the equivalent of five times the size of Greater London has been given up to further sprawl of European cities.

What is the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP)

The International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) is a global association of experienced professional planners. It was founded in 1965 in a bid to bring together recognised and highly-qualified planners in an international network. The ISOCARP network consists of both individual and institutional members from more than 70 countries. ISOCARP is a non-governmental organisation recognized by the UN, UNHCS and the Council of Europe and has a formal consultative status with UNESCO.

Urban Planning Society of China

The Urban Planning Society of China (UPSC), voluntarily incorporated by urban planners across the country in 1956, is the only legally registered academic and professional organisation at state level. UPSC is devoted to organizing international and national academic activities involving urban planning issues, promoting planning knowledge and technologies, providing consulting service to governmental agencies at all levels, publishing planning books, academic papers and other publications, protecting the lawful rights of urban planners, conducting professional development, granting honour and award to distinguished individuals or organisations.