The global need to develop an effective urban framework has never been more urgent—projections show 2.5 to 3 billion people moving into towns and cities by 2050. A small group of experts and practitioners examined how strategic planning initiatives in the Commonwealth might pave the way for prosperity as we prepare for this massive urban growth.

Participants agreed that planning must consider the local context including culture, climate and socio-economic conditions. The challenges are vast. Participants discussed issues from enforcement and maintenance to mapping and informal settlements. All too often there is a gap between planning on paper and realities on the ground. At the same time, it is possible to identify common needs across all communities, such as a developed infrastructure, walkability, shops, and the possibility for interaction and exchange. While there are no blueprints, a simple set of universal planning principles could provide enough structure to enable positive organic growth.

We cannot overlook the broader effects of rapid urbanisation on long term prosperity. Effective planning and delivery can steer sustainable development. Local empowerment impacts social capital; connectivity affects economic growth; infrastructure affects health and safety; and rural linkages impact food supplies, to name a few examples.

This is an opportunity to ensure that new communities thrive for the long term and it is clear that the greatest results will come from collaboration across disciplines, institutions and sectors.

About the Architecture of Prosperity Series

The Architecture of Prosperity, which forms part of the Legatum Institute's The Culture of Prosperity programme, evaluates the impact of the built environment on human wellbeing and the capacity for creativity. The series of lectures, seminars and conferences address the central question of why some forms of architecture promote prosperity while others are linked to vicious effects.