On October 23-25 2020, the SPRING International Association of Development Planners (SIADP) – Chile held the “SPRING Cross-Regional Dialogue 2020 with the theme: Responding to the Global Pandemic towards a Sustainable and Resilient Future. The SPRING Cross-Regional Dialogue was a three-day virtual conference, which brought together practical experiences and theoretical reflections of invited speakers and SPRING alumni, on planning policies, guidelines and practices related to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The main objective was to have a deeper understanding of how these practices contribute to emerging transformative planning approaches, and resilient regional spatial development.
The conference was originally planned to take place in the Philippines. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was rethought as a dialogue about the challenges that different countries were facing. Focusing on planning sectors that are most affected by the pandemic, the SDGs incorporated were goals 1 – Zero Hunger, 2 – No poverty, 3 – Good Health and Well-being, 4 – Quality education and 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Opening remarks were given by Mehmooda Maqsood, a SPRING Programme alumna from TU Dortmund and Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh), and the coordinator of the conference, as well as Dr. Carmelita Liwag of the University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP SURP) and Dr. Cesar Guala Catalán, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Administration (FACEA), UACh, Valdivia.
During the Opening Session on 23rd October, a panel discussed the recovery and future of markets, public space and informal economy as well as the design protocols to govern safe cities and communities. The first day session was moderated by Moritz Kasper, a consultant and PhD candidate from the Technical University of Dortmund. Speakers of the first day sessions were Dr. Jennifer Lenhart, Global Lead WWF Cities, Dr. Antonio Zumelzu of the Department of Architecture and the Arts and Dr. Felix Fuders of FACEA, both faculty members at UACh, Valdivia. Prior to the formal introduction of this session, a special tribute through a message of good memories, reminiscent photos and wonderful stories was given to Dr. Teodor Kausel Kroll, former director of SPRING Programme in Universidad Austral de Chile as he peacefully departed two days before the start of the conference.
The Second Day Sessions of the virtual conference consisted of four dialogues leading to workshop sessions. The first one focused on food security strategies: systems, distribution and network management for future pandemics; urban agriculture. TU Dortmund and UP SURP – SPRING alumna, and the current Antipolo City Planning and Development Coordinator Rowena T. Zapanta presented her first-hand experience as a frontliner and how Antipolo city adapted innovation, and out-of-the-box solutions to aid in the current COVID-19 pandemic. The session was moderated by TU Dortmund and UACh – SPRING alumni and current College Secretary of University of Santo Tomas College of Architecture Vinson P. Serrano.
The second workshop session addressed circular economy as a way to combat poverty, focusing on SDG 2 – No Poverty, with speaker Frans Beckers, the co-founder of Cimar and Cofa in the Netherlands; and moderator Maija Kale,the advisor of digitization and sustainability in the Office of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Latvia,. The third workshop was held by Prof. Emeritus Dr. Einhard Schmidt-Kallert, former director of the International Spatial Planning Center of the TU Dortmund University, and was moderated by Dr. Genet Alem, from the Faculty of International Planning Studies of TU Dortmund University, also a SPRING Alumni. The session focused on Germany’s response to COVID-19, with the focus on SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being.
The last block was oriented to discuss the future of education and the planning of digital innovation in the provision of services, focused on SDG 4 – Quality Education. Dr. Daniel Vicente Lühr Sierra, an academic from the Institute of Electricity and Electronics of Universidad Austral de Chile delivered a presentation, moderated by Leo Mutisya, the manager of Stakeholder engagement and Professional Ethics at Kenya Media Council.
Finally, the Closing Session on October 25 was dedicated to resilience and inclusion in spatial development planning in context of the pandemic, moderated by Dr. Himanshu Shekhar, an academic at the University of United Nations Bonn, also a TU Dortmund – UACh SPRING Programme Alumnus. The speakers were Julio Estrada, a consultant in urban and regional planning and management at the National Planning Secretariat of Guatemala, and a TU Dortmund and Ardhi University – Dar es Salaam SPRING Programme alumnus; Dr. Clifford Amoako, the Coordinator of the Planning Department of Graduate Studies at Kwameh Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana; and Bonnie Andrew Mendoza, procurement research consultant at the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Metro Manila, Philippines, and a TU Dortmund – UACh SPRING Programme Alumnus. The session was closed by Marygrace Balinos, TU Dortmund and UACh – SPRING Programme alumna and co-convener of the SPRING Cross-Regional Dialogue 2020.
A total of 230 participants from 28 countries around the world attended the online conference. With the generous support of Alumniportal Deutschland, the online conference was conducted via Zoom and live streamed via Alumniportal Deutschland YouTube channel.
The SIADP aims to continue events that discuss timely and relevant spatial planning matters, with the objective to recommend practical solutions in particular contexts, mostly but not always for developing economic regions. Its aim is also to keep former students from many different contexts of the world to stay connected, bringing an array of experiences to the future of spatial planning.
Contributions from Mehmooda Maqsood, Vinson Serrano, Marygrace Balinos and Augustine Yaw Asuah.