UKZN Co-hosts First Workshop in SA to Empower Young Built Environment SpecialistsGeneral

From left: Mr Eric Aplegren, Professor Piotr Lorens, Dr Hangwelani Magidimisha, Dr Malindi Neluheni, Professor Betty Mubangizi, Professor Urmilla Bob and Mr Lennox Mabaso.From left: Mr Eric Aplegren, Professor Piotr Lorens, Dr Hangwelani Magidimisha, Dr Malindi Neluheni, Professor Betty Mubangizi, Professor Urmilla Bob and Mr Lennox Mabaso.

UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) in partnership with the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) hosted a three-day workshop and a dinner for Young Professional Planners (YPP).

The School organised the YPP component.

Highlighting the success of the workshop – the first to be held in South Africa, the acting Dean and Head of the School, Professor Betty Mubangizi, said, ‘I am particularly pleased that the young local and international planners met and exchanged ideas on topical issues and case studies affecting Durban.

‘The issues included informal settlements; inner-city regeneration; smart cities in the context of an African city; participatory planning and social justice in decision-making. These social concerns not only cover numerous aspects of the Disciplines with the School, but, in fact, speak to South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) and Vision 2030,’ said Mubangizi.

UKZN academic and YPP Chairperson, Dr Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha of the Discipline of Town and Regional Planning, believes the workshop brought together ideas that the eThekwini Municipality and the South African government would be able to implement to foster social change and nation building.

‘This is an international event that many young professionals from across the globe attended. They brought with them experience to tackle the challenges that the country as well as the continent face in the built environment,’ said Magidimisha.

ISOCARP Vice-President for the YPP Programme, Professor Piotr Lorens, praised UKZN for co- hosting the workshop saying: ‘I hope that this event will leave a permanent mark on UKZN’s planning programme and will echo with other initiatives of this type in the region.’

During the gala dinner held to welcome participants and major partners of the Conference, Mr Eric Aplegren of the eThekwini Municipality said planners were important for any city, ‘The theme of the conference The Cities we Have vs. the Cities we Need is particularly relevant as it talks to young planners of the future.’

Aplegren and Mr Lennox Mabaso of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in KwaZulu-Natal commended UKZN for hosting the workshop. Said Mabaso: ‘We recognise the role of UKZN in this conference and we are confident that the exchange of ideas will lead to innovative future developments.’

UKZN Dean of Research Professor Urmilla Bob reflected on the role of planners in line with effective governance and sustainable development. ‘We live in a highly complex environment with a shifting landscape and I’m proud that UKZN co-hosted the workshop to advocate, debate and discuss city to city planning.’

The keynote address at the gala dinner was delivered by Managing Director of TranSpace Technologies and former CEO of the Council for the Built Environment, Dr Malindi Neluheni, who said Young Planning Professionals were responsible for making significant inputs in addressing the nature of environments that urban spaces should become.

‘In South Africa, we have just had local government elections, and have several municipalities setting-up their agenda for serving the various communities. Young planners can pursue various strategies to gain access to the delivery of quality spaces of the future; within the various municipalities,’ she said.

Mubangizi thanked the delegates for coming to UKZN and assured them that the University’s facilities, the team of academics and facilitators put in place would unleash the imagination of the delegates, boost their creative energies and enable them to come up with solutions that respond to the challenges faced by communities in settlements in and around the city.

*The ISOCARP Young Professional Planners workshop was held in partnership with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, eThekwini Municipality, South African Council for Planners, and the Durban KZN Convention Bureau.

Melissa Mungroo