The Importance of Strategic Development Planning for Modern Cities

As the world is becoming increasingly urbanised, it is now more important than ever to have flexible plans in place to address the changing economic, social, environmental and political needs of city populations. These cities are not detached islands in a country, meaning plans regarding their organisation and economic sustainability must be aligned with the greater framework of the strategic development planning for the country.

Strategic thinking means forward, long-term and future-focused thinking. The strategy becomes the main tool that enables full usage of the potential that the city has with consideration of the population increase. This plan is what creates a framework in which more growth and economic wealth creation opportunities can be created. It also provides the urban residents with the opportunity to participate in decisions that affect the future of the city where they live and work.

Why strategic development planning is important for the sustainability of cities across the globe

With more than 55% of the global population living in urban areas, it is vital to address the challenges associated with rapid urbanisation. South Africa, as one of the developing countries, experiences exceptionally fast urbanisation, similar to that of other developing counties.

The expectation is that only about 28% of the world population will not live in cities within three decades from now. Such an influx of people to cities brings about unprecedented challenges, which can only be addressed through careful and thorough strategic development planning.

Strategic development planning makes it possible to address and solve problems related to:

  • An increase in poverty
  • The inability to address issues on a local level
  • Climate change

With more people flocking to the cities in search of work, the demand for housing, schools and job opportunities increases. In a country like South Africa where there is already a tremendous shortage of jobs, houses, schools, and health facilities, the cities are under pressure because of a population overload and the lack of infrastructure to deal with the influx.

There must be a plan in place to ensure economic growth of the cities while helping to solve the housing and social welfare issues related to rapid urbanisation. Unless people are able to work, they’re not in a position to be economic contributors. This increases the likelihood of poverty, crime, disease, social issues, and political unrest. A plan must be in place to uplift communities and provide long-term sustainable solutions.

Resource allocation is often not adequate to enable decision-makers at the local level to create sustainable plans and to guarantee the correct application of resources to solve the inequality issues. With this in mind, it has become essential to have overarching plans in place, more accountability and reachable development goals. Where accountability is shifted towards the local level, the central government must distribute resources accordingly to enable decision-makers and players on the local level to deliver the necessary services and infrastructure.

Although climate change is regarded as a controversial topic, experts have noted that rising sea levels can lead to the loss of land in coastal regions. Drought and floods are two more environmental risks that advocates of climate change deem as issues to keep in mind when doing strategic development planning.

The Value of Strategic Development Planning

Rapid urbanisation poses challenges, but, with proper strategic development planning, the opportunities that cities offer can be maximised. It makes it possible to:

  • Allocate resources to the areas where these will solve the most problems and bring about the most benefits.
  • Attract investment as a plan is in place with metrics to measure progress.
  • Create a framework against which performance can be measured.
  • Objectively assess the city’s shortcomings and potential.
  • Create a road map towards an economically viable and sustainable city.
  • Enable local authorities to enter partnerships with private investors, NGOs, and the national government to achieve development goals.

To conclude

Strategic development planning enables role players to identify issues, create a workable plan to address the challenges, and establish partnerships to create an urban area that can sustain and even benefit from a growing population. Expert help is available to local authorities to create the necessary plans to solve the issues brought about by rapid urbanisation. Reach out to The Practice Group for more information. Call 012 362 1741 or complete the contact form.