top of page

Planning in the Global South

Planning in the global South is an approach to urban planning that entails the events of cities and people in often contested and complicated urban realities. It is realizing that a different role for planning is needed in the different contexts of cities around the world. As a result, the conversation of how and where to plan has opened up to a new urban planning ideology. The global South is then tasked with knowledge construction to shed light on the identity of other cities. It is important to note that the global South does not refer to a geographical location in the Southern Hemisphere, but instead refers to the misrepresented realities of citizens in urban spaces around the world.

The difficulty of planning in the global South lies in the disconnection of traditional global North planning models and the contexts through which we view time and space. This places planners and urban designers in the process of critiquing the planning theories and practices of inherited planning models and questioning the relevance of these concepts for their settings. The response then seeks to broaden the understanding of complicated urban systems where poverty, inequality, and informality define the urban experience. It is within this space of planning practice that Watson (2016) argues scholars find themselves reimagining urban life. Similarly, the work done by Oren Yiftachel on gray spaces in Israel/Palestine where military urbanism and political domination affect city life and the documentation of citizen's grassroots insurgencies through invited and invented spaces explored by Faranak Miraftab are other worthwhile voices when examining these difficulties (Watson 2016). Scholars and practitioners as a result are then challenged with building new theory and placing it within the city.

These emerging planning theories and practices offer a new understanding to consider design approaches in peripheral cities that have often been disregarded in city planning. In this way, new approaches to urban planning are unraveled through new considerations of the city's geography and history through knowledge, production and research (Watson 2016). Lastly, these emerging and new concepts offer value and enrichment towards planning for cities in the global South and is not meant to disconnect from planning in the global North, but rather to produce new planning thought and considerations that address the importance of context for appropriate planning intervention.

Watson, Vanessa. "Shifting Approaches to Planning Theory: Global North and South". Volume 1, Issue 4, Urban Planning, 2016, pp. 32-41.


Daanyaal Loofer is a City and Regional Planning student at the University of Cape Town. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and Environmental Sustainability from the University of the Western Cape. His interests lie in spatial justice and inclusive planning within South African cities.

Please contact Daanyaal at:





Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page