FIG Commission 8 - Spatial planning and development

Work Plan 2019-2022

Original Work Plan in -pdf-format

Terms of Reference

  • Spatial planning policy, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Land policy instrumentation for the implementation of spatial plans
  • GIS tooling in spatial planning
  • Rural-urban relations and dependencies
  • Participatory and inclusive planning processes
  • Urbanization patterns and development strategies
  • Valuation in spatial planning and land use change
  • Sustainable development

Mission statement

In a world of limited resources, of which land is the most prominent in the domain of spatial planning, the mission of commission 8 is to provide access to planning processes for all and balance the various interests in pursue of a sustainable spatial development at all governance levels both for the short- and long-term. 


Changing urbanisation patterns, increasing climate extremes, technical developments, changing social and economic demands, rural-urban dependencies, and the need for sustainable development, to mention just a few developments, all pose a pressure on land use and its spatial distribution. Spatial planning is closely related to tenure as spatial developments, planned or unplanned, affect land use, land owners and its users. From this perspective, commission 8 wants to connect scientists, professionals, and practitioners from all backgrounds to foster a sustainable development at all scales (local, regional, national, supra-national).

Different localities face different developments and will respond differently to them. This commission aims to provide a platform for the spatial planning community to share and discuss such differences, and similarities of course, and find ways to respond to them, develop principles of good governance and embed them in planning practice. These will draw on established guidelines or principles such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT), Fit-for-Purpose Land Administration (FFP) or Participatory and Inclusive Land Readjustment (PILaR).

The development of policies to guide spatial development is at the heart of the domain, but we also pay attention to ways to implement these policies. Participatory processes will provide a voice to stakeholders in the dialogue between stakeholders and governments. Furthermore, ongoing technical developments open up possibilities to support planning processes with GIS tools or egovernment applications. As the saying goes, a map tells more than a thousand words. One of the challenges is to appropriately integrate GIS tools into planning processes and connect to the system of available data sets.

Additionally, it is important to have a look at the instruments (instrumentation) that governments have at their disposal to implement spatial policies and in particular land use change. Land consolidation, land readjustment, compulsory purchase / expropriation / eminent domain, land banking, pre-emption rights, and similar land policy instruments all use or affect land rights to realise the planned spatial development. Because of their impact on land rights, land policy instrumentation should be used thoughtfully to guarantee legal certainty for involved stakeholders.

In the period 2019-2022, the focus of commission 8 will be:

  • To discuss strategies for the short- and long-term in the cycle of policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
  • To investigate the role of land policy instrumentation to implement planned spatial development.
  • To promote and advance the use of GIS tools in participatory spatial planning processes (cooperation with commission 3).
  • To investigate rural-urban relations and dependencies and raise awareness in planning issues for SMART solutions.
  • To discuss urbanization patterns, development strategies and their effects on communities (cooperation with commission 7).
  • To investigate valuation in spatial planning related to land use change (cooperation with commission 9).
  • To foster awareness for well-balanced planning decisions to support sustainable development (ecologically, economically, socially).

Working Groups

Working Group 8.1 Rural – urban dependency


Rural and urban (including peri-urban) areas are important for development, because all over the world they provide space for people to live. They face similar development challenges, although differences exist as well, and therefore have common needs in terms of development Figure 1).

Figure 1 Challenges and common needs of rural and urban areas

 Both rural and urban areas co-exist for mutual benefits because rural resources are needed in urban areas and urban resources are needed in rural areas. There has been a big focus on urban development – especially concerning the development of sustainable, green and smart cities – with less attention paid to rural development. While the focus on urbanisation is understandable, spatial planning (and development) demands a balance (and continuum) between rural and urban development. From this perspective, rural areas deserve similar attention for them to become more liveable places. With appropriate spatial planning (and development) concepts and approaches, rural and urban areas can become socially and technologically smart spatial units. However, this is only possible if they are investigated from a continuum lens – with focus on their socio-spatial interdependencies and interrelationships.

Policy Issues

  • Investigate rural – urban relations and dependencies that affect sustainable spatial development.
  • Identify key developments in rural areas, such as depopulation, rural land market or food security, to be addressed in a SMART way.
  • Investigate approaches to urban and rural development and recommend or innovate approaches that are responsive to the urban-rural continuum of development.


Rosy Liao Rong (China)

Dr.-Ing. Michael Klaus (Germany)

Mr. Eugene Chigbu (Germany)


More about the Working Group



Working Group 8.2 GIS tools for spatial planning (joint Working Group with commission 3)


GIS tools hold great potential to support spatial planning practice. Ongoing developments in digitalization of data sets and communities further open up possibilities to apply GIS tools in spatial planning processes. The latter typically follow a cyclic pattern: (1) development of spatial policies, (2) policy implementation, and (3) monitoring and evaluation (Figure 2). Spatial policies range from strategic visions to land use plans that at operational level determine and distribute land use types. Together with legislation and rules, these spatial policies constitute the framework for implementation of spatial policies. Programmes, projects, enforcement mechanisms and the like can be used to implement spatial policies, depending on the situational context. Finally, monitoring and evaluation is necessary to measure whether policy aims are met or need to be adapted, which may lead to the development of new spatial policies.

Figure 2 Spatial planning cycle

Due to the different nature of each phase in the cycle, GIS tools to support spatial planning practice will require different data specifications, functionality and usability features. This working group aims to gain a better understanding of developing useful GIS tools given a particular planning exercise, based on the different phases in the spatial planning cycle. Having appropriate and user friendly GIS tools available will create a positive spin-off in terms of enhancing information transparency and increase inclusiveness among participating stakeholders.

Policy issues

  • Examine current GIS tools used in spatial planning practice and consider the potential role for future applications.
  • Develop guidelines based on best practices regarding data standards, functionality and usability of GIS tools.
  • Encourage the use of spatial information and public participation in spatial planning by using e-government.
  • Foster transparency, inclusiveness and legal certainty in decision-making by providing tools for stakeholders to access information and participate in spatial planning processes.


Enrico Rispoli (Italy)

Adriana Czarnecka (Poland)


More about the Working Group



Joint Working Group – Urban Challenges (Joint Working Group with Commission 7 and 9)


According to the United Nations1 urbanization prospects, by 2050 68 % of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. To ensure a sustainable development and ensure access to services for all, including the vulnerable, requires considerable effort from all involved. It touches upon themes such as urban resilience (social well-being, health, services, climate), informal settlements, affordable housing and financial sustainability among others.

Policy issues

  • Scope and analyse current and future challenges for communities in small, medium, large, and megacities, in terms of urban resilience, climate change, housing and informal settlements, and fiscal health.
  • Investigate principles of traditional tribal communalism and understand how those principles can be successfully reintroduced into contemporary residential development.
  • Explore current practices around the globe for tackling urban housing issues and combine existing research which forecast future practices.
  • Investigate critical success factors of existing high-density living arrangements (environmental, social, legal, etc).
  • Contribute to the dissemination of best practices of how spatial planning can contribute to address the present and future urban challenges.
  • Investigate the potential contribution of land-based finance to addressing these urban challenges.
  • Develop an audit tool for the assessment of sustainable municipal finance, fiscal health and land-based value capture tools in relation to the urban challenges.
  • Posit alternative future design models and provide guidance for governments, municipalities, communities and professionals on incorporating these models into current practises for sustainable, spatially informed, and sociable city-living.


Erwin van der Krabben (Netherlands)

James Berghan (New Zealand)

Claire Buxton (New Zealand)


More about the Working Group



Working Group 8.4 Land policy instruments for spatial development


Land, being a limited resource, requires some form of land management to foster a sustainable development. Demand for land, for instance for food production, housing, nature conservation, or infrastructure, surpasses supply. Moreover, supply of appropriate land does not necessarily meet demands regarding its spatial distribution. This working group focuses on international available land policy instruments that may support stakeholders, mostly governments, upon the implementation of spatial policies and spatial redistribution of land to foster a sustainable spatial development.

Policy Issues

  • Analyse available land policy instrumentation, such as land banking, expropriation, land consolidation, land readjustment, expropriation, pre-emption rights to implement spatial objectives for a sustainable development.
  • Foster the dissemination of international practice of land policy instruments and their applications.
  • Establish and distribute a generic legislative framework for land consolidation.
  • Develop and describe a generic process for land consolidation to foster the development of a generic and modifiable open source GIS tool to support the implementation of land consolidation in various countries.


Dr. Morten Hartvigsen (Hungary)

Prof. dr. Walter de Vries (Germany)[at]

Ms. Wioleta Krupowicz (Poland)

Mr. Rodrigue Bazame (Turkey)


More about the Working Group



Working Group 8.5 African Water Governance


Resilience applies to both the industrialised and less-industrialised parts of the world and is associated with many aspects of human activity, often responding to the effects of climate change. It could be related to food, water, land, or energy scarcities. It could relate to living by the coast and the threat of sea level rise and storm surges, or in mountainous areas threatened by glacial deluge, or in arid areas with erratic rainfall, or on small or low-lying islands facing increasingly violent storms. It could also relate to living in rural areas or in urban situations. Whenever and wherever there is a threat of a natural hazard (such as flooding, drought, heatwave), then there is an associated need to be resilient to “come back” after the effects of that hazard have been endured.

 Development gains can be quickly wiped out by a natural disaster directly, a surge in prices (as a consequence of a disaster), or a resource conflict. Gains could also be undermined over time by the cumulative effects of stressors such as climate change; environmental degradation; water, food, and energy scarcity; and economic uncertainty. While humanitarian responses to crises have saved lives and helped to restore livelihoods, such efforts have not always addressed underlying vulnerabilities. A resilience-building approach helps to address the damaging effects of shocks and stressors before, during, and after crises, thereby minimising human suffering and economic loss. The ability and capacity to “come back” is a measure of the individual or collective resilience. In this working group, we focus on resilience in urbanised areas in Africa from a water governance perspective and the role of surveyors.

Policy Issues

  • Scope and analyse current and future challenges for communities in small, medium, large, and megacities, in terms of the resilience of water governance;
  • Investigate the principles of conventional water governance and understand how those principles could be re-configured or aligned with climate change imperatives;
  • Explore current practices around Africa for managing water resources and combine with climate change predictions and population growth scenarios;
  • Investigate and document critical success factors when managing water resources;
  • Contribute to the dissemination of good practice in managing water resources for resilience; and
  • Propose alternative future scenario strategies for managing water resources and provide guidance to governments, municipalities, communities and professionals on reflecting these potential futures into current practice for sustainable, spatially-informed water governance.


Richard Pagett (Serbia)

Isaac Boateng (Ghana)


More about the Working Group