The International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) is a non-governmental global association of experienced professional planners. It was founded in 1965 in a bid to bring together recognised and highly-qualified spatial planners in an international network. The first president of ISOCARP was its co-founder Prof. Sam van Embden[1] (1965-1975).

The Society has over 700 individual and institutional members from more than 80 countries. ISOCARP is currently led by Martin Dubbeling (NL) together with 11 members of the Executive Committee from around the World with the Head Office located in The Hague, Netherlands. ISOCARP is formally recognised by the United Nations and the Council of Europe and has a formal consultative status with UNESCO.


The objectives of ISOCARP include the improvement of cities and planning practice through the creation of a global and active network of practitioners by the exchange of experience, training, education and research. It promotes the planning profession in all its aspects and enhances public awareness and understanding of major planning issues at a global level. ISOCARP has a strong record and reputation on a number of regular activities such as the annual congress, a strong series of publications, awards for best practices, training programmes and workshops for professional support in urban planning.[2]

The Society is launching its Institute, Centre of Urban Excellence in 2016. The Institute’s prime objectives include: strengthening cross-border collaboration globally; upholding professional excellence in planning; advancing sustainable planning; increasing awareness of major development trends and promoting best practices; all while serving as an “Urban Think Tank” facilitating the generation and dissemination of knowledge for better cities.

Although ISOCARP members, planners and other stakeholders involved in the development and maintenance of the built environment, work in many different fields, they share a common interest in the spatial and environmental dimensions of urbanisation. They advise key decision-makers, proposing and supporting projects for intervention in various spatial contexts. ISOCARP is a politically and commercially independent world-wide organisation.

World CongressEdit

The association‘s main event is the annual World Congress.[3] Since 1965 ISOCARP congresses have taken place world-wide on globally-significant cutting edge topics promoting knowledge creation and sharing in the planning profession. The 51st International Congress[4] themed "Cities Save the World, Let's Reinvent Planning" took place in Rotterdam and in 11 different North-Western European cities with small workshops. The next congress will be held in Durban, South Africa on the topic: "Cities we want. Cities we need"[5] just a month before the Habitat III Conference.

Nr. Year Location Theme
1st 1965   Amsterdam The Position of the Netherlands in a Uniting Europe
39th 2003   Cairo Planning in a More Globalised and Competitive World
40th 2004   Geneva Management of Urban Regions
41st 2005   Bilbao Making Spaces for the Creative Economy
42nd 2006   Istanbul Integration and Disintegration
43rd 2007   Antwerp Urban Trialogues
44th 2008   Dalian Urban Growth without Sprawl
45th 2009   Porto Low Carbon Cities
46th 2010   Nairobi Sustainable City / Developing World
47th 2011   Wuhan Liveable Cities: Urbanising World. Meeting the challenge
48th 2012   Perm Fast Forward: Planning in a (hyper) dynamic urban context
49th 2013   Brisbane Frontiers of Planning – Evolving and declining models of city planning practice
50th 2014   Gdynia Urban Transformations – Cities and Water
51st 2015   Rotterdam Cities Save the World: Let’s Reinvent Planning
52nd 2016   Durban Cities we Have vs Cities we Need

Key activitiesEdit

Next to the annual congress, the workshops for Young Planning Professionals (YPP)[6] and the Urban Planning Advisory Teams (UPATs),[7] organised on demand for cities and regions all over the world, are amongst the key activities of ISOCARP. YPP workshops are held on national level addressing local conflicts by a group of selected professionals under the age of 35. UPATs assist sponsor organisations by offering the extensive experience and expertise of ISOCARP members to work on highly relevant but complicated local or international planning projects and policy initiatives. Recent workshops took place in Russia, China, Australia, Mexico, Kenya, Gaza and the West Bank.

At the request of governmental agencies ISOCARP provides customised training programmes for planning personnel. Regional working groups and seminars are regularly organised by the National Delegations. Furthermore, the Society offers Strategic/Technical Assistance Teams for collaborative research and consulting services with national and multi-national agencies.


ISOCARP recognises extraordinary planning through a variety of award programmes including the Award for Excellence for exceptionally innovative urban and regional initiatives; Gerd Albers Award for best publications by an ISOCARP member and Routledge Poster Prize for the best poster(s) in the Young Planning Professional´s Poster Exhibition.


All ISOCARP activities are covered in publications such as the ISOCARP Review, the International Manual of Planning Practice (IMPP), the Congress proceedings and special project reports.[8]

In 2015, the Society published Review 11 with the topic of ´Reinventing Planning: Examples from the Profession´ for the 51st congress, ´Fifty years of Knowledge Creation and Sharing´ in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Society. ´Ten Years of UPATs: Reflections and Results´ documented the history of the Urban Planning Advisory Team programme. In 2016 the widely anticipated Volume VI of the International Manual of Planning Practice will be launched.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Home - ISOCARP". ISOCARP. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  3. ^ "Past ISOCARP Congresses - ISOCARP". ISOCARP. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  4. ^ "51st ISOCARP Congress, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 19-23 October 2015 - ISOCARP". ISOCARP. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  5. ^ "52nd ISOCARP Congress - ISOCARP". ISOCARP. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  6. ^ "Young Planning Professionals' Programme - ISOCARP". ISOCARP. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  7. ^ "UPATs (Urban Planning Advisory Teams) - ISOCARP". ISOCARP. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  8. ^ "ISOCARP Publications - ISOCARP". ISOCARP. Retrieved 2016-02-24.

External linksEdit