The 2023 edition of World Town Planning Day is being celebrated as the usual practice globally today, Wednesday the 8th of November 2023 in all parts of the world including Nigeria. Of course, this special day was set aside to recognise and promote the role of planning in creating livable communities in all parts of the globe. This annual event has been celebrated since 1949 with the aim of highlighting the importance of well-thought out town planning in creating sustainable cities and communities. The Day offer unique opportunity to learn more about urban development, from understanding zoning or subdivision regulations to recognizing the different elements that make up successful towns and cities. Therefore, in celebrating this amazing day, we are devoting today’s write up to looking at the 2023 celebration focusing on why the celebration in the first instance and its relevance in contemporary Nigeria where planning activities seems to be at the lowest ebb in recent times.
Also, since the day has been celebrated in the country like several societies, what has been its contributions to promoting sustainable urban development. Moreover, can we utilize the opportunity provided by the celebration to make urban planning relevant and meet the expectations of the people as well as flourish to promote healthy growth of Nigerian cities and communities. Indeed this is essential because Nigerian cities have been described or regarded as some of the dirtiest in the world, most unorganized and unplanned. Yet they are expanding exponentially lacking in basic facilities and services that make for good living.
In accordance with tradition of celebrating World Town Planning Day, the 2023 edition is being celebrated today being the 8th of November with the theme “Learn Globally, Apply Locally”, and focuses on the value of learning from planning and planning cultures globally, fostering innovative, sustainable, and equitable solutions to address global challenges. In Nigeria context is there anything to celebrate with regards to town planning in the country? Has planning and planners in the country learn from other better climes where planning is taken seriously and have planning employed to properly promote orderly city and community development. I have reflected on these issues in the last few days and concluded that efforts must be made to improve on the negative aspects of city development in Nigeria. It should be emphasized that the state of town planning in the country is appalling unacceptable and one that should be corrected in line with global trend. One of the best time to accomplish this is to expose the weakness and challenges of planning during the annual World Town Planning Day being celebrated today.
The international organization for World Town Planning Day was founded in 1949 by the late Professor Carlos Maria della Paolera of the University of Buenos Aires to advance public and professional interest in planning, both locally and abroad. The Day is celebrated in 30 countries on four continents every November. World Town Planning Day presents an excellent opportunity to look at planning from a global perspective, and the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) like similar professional organisations all over the world encourages its members to use the opportunity to ruminate over planning challenges and possible solutions around the globe. INITP endorses World Town Planning Day as a strategy to promote a broad-based awareness, support, and advocacy of community and regional planning among the public and all levels of government through public awareness activities including lectures on the indispensability of town planning to achieving sustainable urban development in Nigeria.
The World Town Planning Day is important because as a worldwide movement to promote Planning highlights the importance of adequate urban planning, not just for communities but the world at large, highlights the amazing contribution of urban planners in our communities so far. It educates on the importance of proper planning to broadens the knowledge of civilians, and also relevant bodies to understand this very important concept. In a nutshell, World Town Planning Day was designed and instituted to achieve to draw attention to the aims, objectives, and progress of urban and regional planning around the globe, to engage local citizens and officials in the value of planning and to participate in shaping their community, to highlight the valuable contributions sound planning has made to the quality of global human settlements and their environment, and to give worldwide coverage to the ideals of urban and regional planning not only within the profession but also among the general public.
Having elaborated on the genesis and importance of World Town Planning Day, we now focus on this year’s, theme which is Learn Globally and Apply Locally. The theme suggest that we learn from other climes to improve on planning and city development in Nigeria. Looking at the precarious situations of planning in Nigeria especially at the state and local government levels, there is nothing to show that we have really learned from other climes especially from those societies where we copy modern planning from. In those societies, you cannot build or come up with any physical development without planning approvals. In our society today, people seldom obtain Town Planning approval before they build.
Also, in those societies, there are citywide master plans to guide and direct city and community development. I don’t think any city in Nigeria has up-to-date master plan and yet they are being developed. Also, basic urban services such as electricity, road, water, education and health that are generously planned and provided in other more prosperous societies are largely not provided for and often are not available in Nigerian cities. From the above, it does appear that in terms of planning Nigerians cities, we are far behind and that we have not really learn from other better societies. Of course, we need not continue to bemoan the challenges befalling the country, we need to look back , identify and reflect on what is wrong with the planning of Nigerian cities and come up with proposals to address the issues.
The 2023 World Town Planning Day offers this excellent opportunity and hence its relevance. Therefore the celebration of the Day in Nigeria is very relevant because it gives Planners opportunities to reflect on city and community planning in the country, examine practices in other societies with a view to learning from them. It should be added that several opportunities have been accorded Nigerians to learn from the planning practice in other societies which have not been utilized. However, the present opportunity should be harnessed to change the poor planning practice in the country.
It is not an indictment of planners, but the entire Nigerian society. This is because the government neglected planning by not funding it and by not creating conducive environment for it to flourish which many citizens have the tendency to disobey and circumvent planning regulations and laws with impunity. Therefore, effective and efficient city and community planning need to be reenacted and re invigorated to ensure and promote the welfare and living conditions of Nigerians. Town planning promotes and accommodates growth , keep citizens from disasters, ensure the health of people and make provision for essential needs of city and community populations. It is time the Nigerian society embrace and promote planning of cities and communities that citizens will be proud of