FIG Commission 8 - Spatial planning and development

Working Group - Joint Commission 7, 8 and 9
Urban Challenges


According to the United Nations (United Nations, 2018. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 revision) urbanization prospects, by 2050 68 % of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. To ensure a sustainable development and ensure access to services for all, including the vulnerable, requires considerable effort from all involved. It touches upon themes such as urban resilience (social well-being, health, services, climate), informal settlements, affordable housing and financial sustainability among others.

Policy Issues

  • Scope and analyse current and future challenges for communities in small, medium, large, and megacities, in terms of urban resilience, climate change, housing and informal settlements, and fiscal health.
  • Investigate principles of traditional tribal communalism and understand how those principles can be successfully reintroduced into contemporary residential development.
  • Explore current practices around the globe for tackling urban housing issues and combine existing research which forecast future practices.
  • Investigate critical success factors of existing high-density living arrangements (environmental, social, legal, etc).
  • Contribute to the dissemination of best practices of how spatial planning can contribute to address the present and future urban challenges.
  • Investigate the potential contribution of land-based finance to addressing these urban challenges.
  • Develop an audit tool for the assessment of sustainable municipal finance, fiscal health and land-based value capture tools in relation to the urban challenges.
  • Posit alternative future design models and provide guidance for governments, municipalities, communities and professionals on incorporating these models into current practises for sustainable, spatially informed, and sociable city-living.


This WG will be led by a chair from each involved commission, together collaborating on the proposed activities:

Commission 7: Commission 8: Commission 9:

Erwin van der Krabben
the Netherlands

James Berghan
New Zealand

Claire Buxton
New Zealand


Special Projects:

  • Vertical villages: A sense of community in high-density living environments. Building sociallybased land tenure in spatial planning. Focus on urbanized areas, in particular high rise buildings.
  • Ecology of community: Incorporating socially-based tenure principles into contemporary urban residential development.
  • Land based financing and land value capture is one of the key elements of the new urban agenda
  • Development of audit tool for municipal fiscal stress and land-based value capture tools for climate change investments


What we are working on -

  • Working paper with best practices of spatial planning contributions to addressing global urban challenges
  • Working paper with innovations in municipal (land-based) financial tools for sustainable urban development

What's New

A special session at FIG Working Week 2020 was organised to further elaborate and discuss the topic:

Urban Challenges: Creating Sustainable Community with Density - Socio-technical Presentations and Discussion

To hear examples and best practice from around the globe about building up (instead of out) and how a sense of community is maintained. Then to discuss a way forward for Working Group 8.3.

Claire Buxton (Canada):
Experience Versus Expectation - The Effect of Land Development Professionals’ Decisions on Sense of Community, Sense of Place, and Flexibility of Tenure (10340)
[abstract] [paper]

Franka Grubisic (Croatia):
Bridging the Social-Technical Gap: Creating Not Only Resilient and Sustainable Cities, But Resilient and Sustainable Societies (10616)
[abstract] [paper]

Robert W. Foster (USA):
The Mega Cities, the Smart Cities, the Sustainable Cities (10586)
[abstract] [paper]

Frank Friesecke (Germany):
How to Create Affordable Housing in Growing Cities? New Directions for Land Regulations and Housing Policy in Germany (10245)
[abstract] [paper]

Elzbieta Bielecka and Beata Calka (Poland):
Access to Green Public Spaces in Warsaw. Spatial and Statistical Analysis. (10407)
[abstract] [paper]

Matthieu Zuidema, Peter Merx and Marion Plegt (Netherlands):
Municipalities and Urban Development, During and After the Crisis (10488)
[abstract] [paper]

Michael Dela Ahey (Ghana):
Affordable Housing in Ghana Using Community Land Trust (10636)
[abstract] [paper]

El Idrissi Abdelwahed (Morocco):
Urban Land in Morocco: Legal-Institutional Dysfunctions and Mitigation Measures (10701)
[abstract] [paper]

Isah Funtua Abdulkadir, Y.Y Babanyara and Mustapha Kyari Manga (Nigeria):
Geospatial Distribution’s Pattern and People’s Perception of Green Spaces in Bauchi, Nigeria (10583)
[abstract] [paper]