From garden to green via governance as the key to a new urban agenda

Anette Galskjøt, CEO of the IFHP, explains their aim to put green cities on the international agenda, as they work with the UN and urban campaigners to tackle the major issues in housing and planning 

IFHP (International Federation of Housing and Planning) is very honoured and proud and to be part of the International Garden City Institute. We are a membership based organization passionate about fostering better cities for people. The IFHP community encompasses leaders and influencers from public, private and civic sectors of society.

IFHP’s legacy goes back to Garden Cities. Born out of the Garden Cities Association [now the TCPA] in 1913, IFHP was established to take the then burgeoning movement beyond the British Isles and advance it worldwide. Since its inception IFHP has sought to look ahead and forward housing and planning solutions of a holistic and inclusive nature. A century on IFHP sees itself as having gone from advancing Garden Cities to advancing Green Cities as the mantra for the new millennium. Green as an acronym for sustainability in the broadest sense, i.e. environmental, social and economic sustainability, which are inherent to the original Garden City ideology.

Of course IFHP is not singular in focusing on sustainability as a millennium goal. Rather IFHP is one of many contributing to and campaigning for the sustainable development goals and new urban agenda being advanced by the United Nations. Avenues of influence for the likes of IFHP, come both via the expertise of the IFHP Community serving as policy experts directly advising the UN’s member nation states, and via World Urban Campaign [WUC] and hereunder the General Assembly of Partners [GAP], the voice of civil society.

In an effort to embrace a diverse constituency, IFHP is confident enough to work within a broad framework of making cities smarter, healthier, grow greener, climate resilient, healthier, connected, inclusive and safer, and which almost perfectly align with the principles of WUC. Yet, at the same time, IFHP is bold enough to focus on gaps or vacuums that very few seem to be tackling, such as the acute challenge of Housing Refugees, not in gated camps, but within ordinary communities.

In this urban age, where cities are all the rave, IFHP strongly believes in the need to reset focus on housing as perhaps the single most chronic urban challenge of the century to come.  IFHP is addressing this under the heading of Transitional Living, and what it means to live on the move, in impermanent conditions, in informal environments, under short-term leases, under tenuous economic situations, to some extent in areas of impunity outside the scope of proper regulation and legislation. In effect IFHP is shifting from deliberating static configurations of housing and planning, to addressing fluid mechanisms of ad hoc housing and unplanned settlements.

Overall IFHP is a strong advocate of adaptive urban governance and agile urban leadership as key to attaining sustainable cities, liveable communities and access to decent housing. IFHP is elevating and building an understanding of the importance of good urban governance via various fora and activities, both for the immediate IFHP Community as well as IFHP’s input to the New Urban Agenda.

All said, goals are all well and good, but it is implementation that really counts, and this is where IFHP hopes that in collaboration with IGCI’s coalition of partners, we can help make a difference.

IFHP hopes to offer the International Garden Cities Institute an international platform, community and voice, ultimately influencing and impacting the New Urban Agenda, meant to be the forthcoming standard for all nations. IFHP hopes that IGCI can serve as a source of concrete examples of “urban” solutions which can pave the way for the New Urban Agenda. 

Collectively we can make a difference, and help implement a more sustainable urban future.