The 5th Annual Caribbean Urban Forum: Island Systems Planning (CUF5) was held from the 10th -12th June 2015 at the Bay Gardens Hotel, St Lucia. The forum focused primarily on advancing land use planning and urban management within the Caribbean urban sector. The Organizing Committee included The Ministry of Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal, Saint Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners (SLILUP), Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management (CNULM) based at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in association with CARICOM Secretariat and supported by the European Union. The past CUF Conferences were held in Guyana (2011), Jamaica (2012), Trinidad and Tobago (2013), and Barbados (2014) and has contributed to its growing regional and international audience of professionals that work in the field of urban and land management. The major goal is to facilitate activities that contribute to the strengthening of the regional planning framework.
The forum provided the opportunity for discussion and examination of urban issues redefined to meet the nature of current settlement patterns within the Caribbean region. The three-day conference explored the primary theme of “Island Systems Planning”, which recognizes that the patterns of urbanization in the Caribbean are unique and require tailored solutions to address them.
Through presentations, workshops and discussions, the conference addressed specific policy issues within the Caribbean urban sector and united Caribbean and international land use practitioners, policy makers, academics and allied professionals interested in urban and land management issues within the Caribbean. The presentations explored potential solutions to meet the current constraints of island system planning.
Thematic areas included:
- Island Systems Planning;
- Sustainable Land Management in the face of Climate Change;
- Local Economic Development in the Caribbean;
- Moving towards Energy Efficiency: Alternatives & Opportunities;
- Professional Planning Practice, Education & Training;
- Habitat III Agenda: The Role of Small Island States in the Habitat Agenda
- Housing Policy in the Caribbean: Lessons Learned & New Directions; and
- Sustainable Development in Saint Lucia.
Several events were held at CUF5 including:
Official Launch of The Saint Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners (SLILUP)
The Saint Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners was launched at CUF5. The formation of national associations of planners in each Caribbean island and their incorporation as members of the Caribbean Planners Association supports strengthening of the regional planning framework by encouraging the greater recognition of the planning fraternity and their role as a policy lobby.
Prior to 2012, only three national associations of planners existed: Trinidad and Tobago Society of Planners (TTSP), Barbados Town and Country Planners Society (BTCPS) and the Jamaica Institute of Planners (JIP). With assistance from other international planning associations and support from UN-Habitat, the Caribbean Planners Association was formed in 2012 as an umbrella body and the formation was endorsed by CARICOM. Since then, efforts have led to the formation of the Belize Association of Planners (2013) and the Planning Association of Dominica (PAD) (2015). The Guyana Planners Association is also scheduled to be formed in 2015. Suriname, British Virgin Islands and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are in the process of forming national associations.
Launch of the UN-Habitat publication: Urbanization and Climate Change in SIDS
The UN-Habitat publication: Urbanization and Climate Change in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) aims to provide an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of Climate change in relation to human settlements in SIDS. It collects initial thoughts in response to the call of SIDS for “the strengthening of the long-standing cooperation and support provided by the international community” and “enable strong, genuine and durable partnerships at the subnational, national, sub regional, regional and international levels” (UNGA 2014). The report is currently available from UN-Habitat website.
Planning tour to the Monchy Housing Development
A site visit to the Monchy Housing Development provided the opportunity to identify the successes and implementation of housing intervention for the regularization of unplanned settlements. The size of houses allocated was based on initial equity already invested in structures.
City on the Hill
The film City on the Hill, a documentary on the built and cultural heritage in East Port of Spain supported by the GORTT -UWI RDIFUND fund was screened under the theme Local Economic Development for the Caribbean. The introduction to the film is as follows:
“Through historical records and markings on the landscape, the film examines the craftsmanship of those whose labour was quarried to erect the early buildings of Port of Spain. It makes connections between a spiritual architecture and its influences on music, dance and artistic production now recognized among the primary signifiers of culture of the nation of Trinidad and Tobago. The film explores how the contributions made by this urban settlement may be harnessed for economic growth.
The conventional narrator is replaced with the poetry and prose of Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace and Wayne Brown read by Wendell Manwarren of 3 Canal, thus absorbing the literary lens on this rich built and cultural heritage which we discover through testimonies of creativity and survival of its citizens young and old. The documentary works against the grain of how Laventille has been conventionally presented, unraveling the dominant image of violence, indolence and poverty with the creative traditions and symbols that future development should preserve.”
Urban Planning For City Leaders Workshop (UN Habitat)
On June 9th 2015, immediately prior to the CUF, at the Bay Gardens Hotel in St. Lucia, the United Nations Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), in conjunction with the CNULM executed a one-day workshop “Urban Planning for City Leaders”. A total of 24 participants attended the workshop from countries such as Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Barbados, Guyana, Suriname, and Jamaica. For more than forty years, UN-Habitat has been one of the leading urban and human settlements programmes worldwide, and this year was no exception.
The one-day workshop aimed at offering a practical snapshot of the sustainable planning principles, key tools for planning city extensions, addressing urban informality, valuing public space and increasing climate resilience. The projects overall objective is to improve energy security in Caribbean countries and mitigate climate change by reducing energy consumption as a result of urban sprawl, inefficient transportation systems and improving energy efficiency of buildings.
The workshop focused on the following objectives:
- Explaining new methods and approaches for sustainable urban planning
- Analyze what good planning practices is and what it can achieve for rapidly developing cities
- Identify the positive impact of sustainable urban planning with reference to real life case studies
This year’s workshop facilitated sessions by Dr. Asad Mohammed (CNULM), Marcus Mayr (UN-Habitat) and Mr. Sohel Rana (UN-Habitat via Skype) focusing on five main topics:
- Sustainable Urban Pattern for Planned Development
- Planned City Extension and UN-Habitat Approach
- Public Space for a Livable City
- Addressing Urban Informality
- Build Resilience and Reduce Climate Risks.
Urban Design Studio for Energy Efficient Campus Design and Management
The ACP-EU project: Mainstreaming Energy Efficiency and Climate Change in Built Environment Training and Research in the Caribbean (CarEnTrain) aims to improve energy security in Caribbean countries and mitigate climate change by reducing the consumption of energy resulting from urban sprawl, inefficient transportation systems and improving energy efficiency of buildings.
The project hosted the first urban design studio in order to educate campus administrators and urban professionals on the importance of urban design to the greening of campuses. Bart Janssens and Tom Coppens of University of Antwerp, and Jacqueline Brown of UTECH at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) delivered the course on the 8th-9th June 2015 in Saint Lucia. The basic principles behind urban design were taught and examples of urban design at different campuses were discussed. The course concluded with an analysis of the SALCC campus and recommendations to improve energy efficiency. Most notably was that many of the buildings constructed as part of a fort had urban design features which allowed for natural ventilation and cooling. However, upon its adaptation to use as a school, partitions were used to make offices that reduced natural ventilation and led to the need for air condition.