Emphasizing community engagement, equitable representation, and adherence to human rights principles, this project implemented by UN Habitat seeks to address historical disparities in spatial development and ensure a more inclusive and sustainable future. The project aims to create spatial plans that are not only reflective of the community's needs and aspirations but also uphold fundamental human rights standards, thus contributing to the overall well-being and empowerment of West Bank communities through the integration of diverse perspectives, especially those of marginalized genders.
Since the Israeli occupation in 1967, large swaths of the West Bank have been confiscated by Israeli authorities for the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements. These lands are inaccessible to Palestinians and are not considered in Palestinian outline plans. The continued denial of Palestinians' right to spatial planning control, coupled with a planning system inconsistent with the principles of international human rights laws, necessitates a review of spatial planning in the West Bank by the United Nations and the international community.
In response to the restrictive planning practices, UN Habitat has issued a project that aims to consolidate Palestinian institutions with local participatory activities, resulting in locally led development and prosperity. Palestinian communities began drafting their own detailed Local Outline Plans (LOPs) in 2011 and subsequently submitted them to the ICA for endorsement. The Ministry of Local Government (MoLG) oversees the planning process and negotiations with the ICA through the General Authority of Civil Affairs (GACA), ensuring that the plans are consented to by the local communities. Thus, this project is grounded in the belief that spatial planning serves as a crucial tool for protecting human rights, particularly the right to housing and safeguarding inhabitants from the threat of demolitions and forced evictions, while promoting sustainable development for Palestinians in the West Bank.
The primary aim of this assignment is to update the Local Outline Plans for land use in the targeted communities and enhance their local development agenda, thus fortifying tenure security and resilience amid the challenging geopolitical reality. This is led through statutory planning tools designed in accordance with national spatial planning standards, while simultaneously reflecting the needs and priorities of local communities. This should then lead to the enhancing of social, economic, and environmental conditions of Palestinian communities and the safeguarding of their right to a dignified living standard.
Some of the activities conducted to meet these objectives include:
- Revising the land use plan for the targeted communities, providing strategic guidance for development in all sectors while ensuring an inclusive approach that takes into consideration the specific needs of diverse population groups.
- Developing and updating the local development agenda, also known as the Action Plan, for the targeted communities. This will entail identifying the community's priorities for implementing social infrastructure projects and providing a comprehensive cost estimate for each project, along with a proposed implementation timeline spanning 16 years.
- Engaging in a participatory approach with the local communities to gather valuable input and ensure that their voices are heard throughout the planning process. Specific consultations will be conducted with marginalized groups, such as women and youth, to ensure their needs and perspectives are considered.
The work methodology for consolidating the LOPs relies on a collaborative approach, working in partnership with local communities and civil society organizations. Additionally, the methodology implemented will be incorporating both quantitative and qualitative indicators. Semi-structured open interviews will be conducted to enable before and after analyses of planning interventions vis-à-vis the human rights of Palestinian communities. The methodology is divided into four different phases:
Phase 1 includes:
- Conducting a comprehensive diagnosis of the status and analyzing developmental and strategic sectors through consultations with stakeholders, including ministries, institutions, and diverse members of the local communities, such as women, youth, elderly, and people with disabilities.
- Designing and preparing a database for the outline plans, conducting field surveys, and organizing information storage.
- Preparing a draft regional, diagnostic, and sectoral analysis, encompassing the potential and challenges of development in various sectors, while also addressing social and gender-specific needs.
Phase 2 includes:
- Developing scenarios for future population growth in the targeted communities and selecting the most suitable scenarios based on a gender- and age-sensitive scoring methodology.
- Providing conceptual plans and planning guidelines to address development priorities, encompassing road and public transport networks, public and green areas, etc., aligned with spatial development strategic frameworks for the targeted governorates and national plans.
Phase 3 includes:
- Updating the land use plan and detailed sectoral plans accordingly.
- Preparing relevant regulatory provisions.
Phase 4 includes:
- Identifying and characterizing local development interventions that cater to the diverse needs of different population groups and linking them spatially and enhancing the technical planning capacities of the technical staff within the MoLG.