Encouraging students to factor climate change resilience into urban planning

Author: Nyoman Prayoga, Wiwandari Handayani

Following classroom lectures and field observation activities, students at the Urban and Regional Planning Department, Diponegoro University, finished their Planning Studio final assignment in December 2016. As part of the Youth Program, ACCCRN visited the final presentation session and joined the discussion with all students and lecturers.

The Planning Studio provides opportunities for the students to elaborate current development issues. Climate change resilience is relatively new terminology in terms of the level of knowledge and practice, and therefore it requires further elaboration and comprehension to be accommodated in the urban and regional planning process. Diponegoro University intends to promote the concept of inclusive urban climate change resilience among its students.

Through the Youth program, ACCCRN promoted one of its values by facilitating collaboration through knowledge sharing with the expectation that ACCCRN could contribute to the students’ interpretation of inclusive UCCR in their Planning Studio assignments.

By the end of the semester, the students were able to produce plans for the planning and planning process by having two main components in this Planning Studio subject, including regional development-oriented planning and area-focused development planning.

On 20 December 2016, the final presentations were made in the theater room of the Urban and Regional Planning Department.

There are four groups that have finished their assessment and analysis on each study area in Semarang Regency and they are the Ungaran, Ambarawa, Tuntang, and Tengaran Groups. The final output from this Planning Studio are spatial and development plans that can optimize the area’s potential and can be a solution to the problems that have been identified. In this case, ACCCRN contributes to the strengthening of the understanding of UCCR so that climate change impact and resilience issues are considered throughout the planning process and output.

Diponegoro University students present their final work for the Planning Studio (Photo credit: Nyoman Prayoga/Mercy Corps Indonesia)

From the discussion, even though each of the student groups had different levels of understanding and interpretation, it could be seen that they were able to include what ACCCRN has tried to promote, which is interconnectivity between areas and inclusive resilience.

The lessons that the class managed to capture is that the interconnection between areas and activities should trigger development opportunities for the city and regency. This is important for building up social integration and community welfare amidst rapid changes or urbanization and under the stress of climate change. A good linkage in regional development is also expected to increase local competencies and reduce economic polarization, and this should lead to resilience.

Semarang Regency is located next to Semarang City and both of them have very strong links to each other, as well as to other areas around them. ACCCRN and Diponegoro University realize that trans-boundary issues are very important in the field of development. Through the Planning Studio, students are encouraged to analyze the problems and potentials, not only within their working area, but also how the constellation affects the development process.

The Tuntang and Tengaran areas have rural-urban characteristics and agriculture withe the potential to supply the needs of their surrounding areas. The students identified how climate change is affecting agricultural activities and threatening food supply and production because of unpredictable seasons and extreme weather which, for example, often lead to crop failures. This situation results in a lot of people there preferring not to be farmers or get involved in agriculture if they have other options.

Meanwhile, Ambarawa and Ungaran are more urbanized areas compared to the other two. They are facing common problems such as uncontrolled land conversion from agricultural use to industry, housing, and commercial activities. Both Ungaran and Ambarawa have the potential to be the market for the agriculture products supplied by other areas around them and this needs a well-designed strategy so that they do not lose their character due to urbanization and sprawl from the city of Semarang. For example, massive land conversion in Semarang Regency that acts as the upstream area can create a bigger risk of flooding in Semarang as downstream area. This kind of connection needs more attention in the spatial planning and development strategy.

In general, all of the groups could clearly describe issues related to climate change resilience and take them into consideration in the analysis and planning. They managed to deliver clear and well-structured explanations on the issues and show the logic and details of their concept.

For example, the Tengaran Group, which wants to promote Tengaran’s potential as an agropolitan area with its basis in local economic development, could explain the market chain of agricultural products and how the distribution takes place, including the integration between sectors. As an additional point from ACCCRN’s perspective, the students also managed to clearly show, not only spatial considerations, but also an emphasis on institutional considerations which explained on how their plan is going to involve relevant stakeholder groups, the distribution of roles among stakeholder groups in the area, and other details such as how they are going to increase human resource capacity to support the realization of the concept.

From this collaboration between ACCCRN and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Diponegoro University, it is interesting to see how climate change resilience issues are starting to become integrated into the planning. This also includes how inclusiveness and the city beyond boundaries are important in the UCCR topic. Hopefully this activity can stimulate the students to consider climate change resilience as part of their perspective in their study and moreover when they begin their professional careers in the field of planning.