Regional Development
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UNCRD was established as a response to Resolution 1582L of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, adopted in 1971, to promote regional development, which was considered to offer a useful tool for ensuring broad-based development. The Resolution states:

"Regional development is a potential instrument for the integration and promotion of social and economic development efforts" in those countries that pursued the following objectives:
  1. "Induce rapid structural change and social reform, especially to achieve a broader distribution of returns from development among less privileged groups in society;
  2. Increase popular participation in setting development goals and in developmental decision-making and organizational process;
  3. Create more effective institutional and administrative arrangements and operational approaches to carry out development plans;
  4. Achieve a better distribution of population and human activities through a more effective integration of urban and rural development; and
  5. Include more effectively environmental considerations in development programmes."
These elements are strikingly similar to those that are essential to sustainable development and it is easily recognized that regional development approach offers useful tool for sustainable development. In this regard, UNCRD has been employing Integrated Regional Development Planning (IRDP) as a main instrument to promote sustainable development. IDRP has a multidisciplinary and integrated approach, which addresses urban and rural linkages, territorial integration, a balanced distribution of population and economic activities in a spatial context to attain equity, and social cohesion/justice. It also promotes participatory planning, an efficient territorial organization, the effective incorporation of environmental and disaster risk management (including climate change), in an integrated manner with the other sectors of territorial development (transport, housing, basic and social services, energy, water, economy, etc.). IRDP also uses appropriate institutional arrangements to enhance resilience and better governance.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Conference) took place in June 2012 and adopted the outcome document, The Future We Want, which was endorsed by the General Assembly on 27 July 2012 (A/RES/66/288). Rio+20 highlighted the importance of a sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, and an integrated and sustainable organization of ecosystems that support economic, social and human development, promoting their resilience in the face of existing and emerging problems. Also highlighted was the importance of making coherent and integrated planning and decision-making at the national, sub-national and local levels was recognized and the World Leaders called for strengthening national, sub-national and/or local institutions (para. 101). Integrated Regional Development Planning (IRDP) offers an effective instrument for promoting sustainable development.

Integrated Regional Development Planning (IRDP)
IRDP is founded on a territorial and spatial approach to development. It is a process of planning that can transcend sectors as well as administrative or jurisdictional boundaries to pursue holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development at sub-national levels. The approach is multi-scalar so as to cover the environmental, social, and economic issues that are being addressed at the appropriate planning and management scale, promoting the required articulation of the different scales. IRDP enables addressing the existing interdependencies and complementarities between the territories (city-regions, urban agglomerations, systems of cities, and urban and rural linkages), which are mutually related through complex exchanges of materials (resources), services (including environmental services), energy, information, and population.

IRDP is also designed to specifically address the needs at the regional and local levels and many problems that affect people at the local level. In addition, IRDP seeks to address regional, local and community empowerment and capacity development.

IRDP is a useful tool for sustainable development, in particular, since it integrates the three pillars of sustainable development, promotes intergovernmental (horizontal and vertical) and public-private coordination, multistakeholder dialogue and synergies, common regional visions, and thus participatory planning.

With its participatory, multi-scalar, multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach, IRDP offers a useful tool for pursuing sustainable development, in particular for those countries undergoing decentralization.

The overall objective is to enhance application of IRDP in Asian, African and LAC countries as an effective tool to achieve sustainable regional development. In this regards, the specific objectives of the Economic and Social Development Unit as well as Africa and LAC Offices are:
  1. To enhance capacities of national governments for effective regional and territorial development policy formulation and implementation (including planning and management instruments); and
  2. To improve institutional and technical capacities of sub-national institutions for integrated regional development planning and management.

The following are the areas where UNCRD focuses its activities:
  • Serving as a knowledge platform on IRDP;
  • Organizing forums in Asia, Africa and Latin America for exchange of experiences on regional development planning and management;
  • Conducting training of policy makers and planners;
  • Providing technical assistance for policy formulation and integrated regional planning and management processes, including multi-stakeholder consultations as well as implementation; and
  • Networking with partners and collaborators including UN organizations, aid agencies, central/local governments in Asia, Africa and LAC countries, universities, training and research institutes etc.
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