On May 28 and 29, 2013 in Amman, Jordan, the Gulf States Regional Office of UN-Habitat held a regional workshop for municipal high-level officials to discuss challenges and priorities for urban development in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Dr Mona Serageldin was invited to comment on each country’s national development plans and discuss similar cases from around the world.
The GCC Secretariat and UN-Habitat’s regional offices opened the session. Peter Gotsch, professor of Planning at Frankfurt University, then shared European spatial planning experiences, followed by a discussion of strategic urban planning policies and priorities by Elkin Velasquez, Coordinator of Urban Planning and Design at UN-Habitat. Member states representatives presented their country’s national spatial development strategy. Economic diversification and job creation for the employment of nationals, with a special focus on youth, were two themes underpinning the plans presented.
Dr Serageldin presented two international cases on economic, spatial and planning policies for consideration by the GCC members. The first was on China’s coordination of economic and spatial policies, starting with investments in port cities and promotion of export-oriented industries during the late 1970s. Two decades later, massive investments in strategic transport corridors and urban development were made to draw investment to the interior in order to reduce the wide disparities between coastal provinces. Strategic spatial development plans are prepared by the provincial administrations in accordance with the national framework.
The second case Dr Serageldin presented focused on the institutional framework created by the Organization for African Unity to implement the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) through coordinated development among member states. Heads of state determine regional development objectives and policies; directorates within NEPAD then work with member states to ensure that national development plans harmonize with regional policies. Particular emphasis is placed on transnational corridors that spur investments in and enable export of natural resources.