Targeted at urban decision-makers and planners, this course describes how to think about urban planning as an integrated process. You will learn about the concept of integrated urban planning (IUP), the benefits of integration,  the process for IUP implementation, its applications in the global south through case studies and the use of data for decision making. 

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Cities are complex systems that exist to resolve many human problems simultaneously. They provide people with jobs, housing, education, culture, health, entertainment, organization, government. Over time they have evolved to become economic and social epicenters fostering innovative solutions to societal challenges while creating new challenges in their wake. We are now living in an urban era facing a climate crisis. It is more important than ever that we focus efforts to get cities right.

At the local level, decision-making is usually organized to respond to these different needs in siloed structures, narrowly looking at issues like transportation, waste management, drainage, parks, water, education, land use, economic development, and housing, all independently.

This compartmentalized organization does not consider the multifaceted nature of many of the problems that city governments are trying to resolve and ignores the opportunity for integrated planning to make investments, programs and service provision more efficient and co-beneficial across sectors, creating a win-win for city management and residents alike.

To be more impactful, integrated urban planning proposes a different kind of decision-making for cities, in which key actors from different parts and levels of government collaborate to make decisions together, and

create projects and services that maximize the use of taxes creating cascading benefits: social, economic and environmental. Additionally, integrated urban planning proposes inclusive approaches in which civil society and minority populations are key actors in the decision-making process.

Integrated urban planning allows us to explore questions such as how to address urban growth, while simultaneously connecting people to sustainable jobs, and providing equitable and just service provision while conserving key ecosystems and resources. To do this effectively, data must be at the core of these types of questions. Cities need to recognize the opportunity and limitations of data to aid in decision-making, drawing from local knowledge including vulnerable and indigenous communities, interagency data collection and coordination and best practices for managing and updating data. 


Learning Objectives

In this IUP course you will learn about the process for integrated urban planning through tools, case studies and examples from around the world, from vision to stakeholder engagement, to funding and implementation. We will explore tools to work towards a sustainable city transformation.

Integrated Urban Planning

Understand the concept of integrated urban planning and the idea of co-benefits for integrated approaches

Process and Methodologies

Have a basic understanding of the process, stakeholders, methodologies and approaches to implement integrated planning approaches

Applied Approaches

Explore the application of integrated approaches in the urban south, its advantages and challenges

Use of Data

Understand how the use of data is central for the implementation of integrated approaches, and look at one application in urban biodiversity

Course at a glance


3 hours

Lead Institution

World Resources Institute​


English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian Bahasa and Mandarin Chinese


Personalized certificate provided upon course completion

Course Outline

The first section includes the history and theory underpinning integrated urban planning (IUP) as a practice. It defines IUP including how it is different from traditional master planning. It provides an understanding of the goals of IUP, and why and when it can be adopted by cities to advance strategic projects. Section 1 identifies key enabling conditions for IUP to be effective and lastly and what barriers may impede IUP in your cities.

This unit will walk students through the IUP process (from visioning to stakeholder engagement, baselining, interdependencies) with a focus on the importance of co-benefits, co-production, participatory planning and evidence-based planning processes.

This unit will demonstrate how IUP has been applied regionally and how it varies based on regional context.

We develop general concepts for using data in urban biodiversity strategy, focusing on the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity as an in-depth case study. We explore indicator development, data research, data sharing and acquisition, data safety and governance, data interpretation, and communication of data insights.

Course Authors

Shuaib Lwasa
Shuaib LwasaProfessor of Urban Resilience and Global Development
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Shuaib Lwasa is a Professor of Urban Resilience and Global Development. Shuaib has over 22 years of university teaching and research on urban sustainability formerly at Makerere University where he was a founding coordinator of the Urban Action research Lab. He has worked on interdisciplinary research projects focused on African cities but also in South Asia but also climate change and health among marginalized communities. His publications are in the areas of climate change and health, urban mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, urban environmental management, spatial planning, and disaster risk reduction, urban sustainability. Shuaib was a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC WG III Chapter 8 “Urban Systems and Human Settlements” and Lead Author for the IPCC Special report on Land and Climate Change.
Mariana Orloff
Mariana OrloffSenior Manager, Urban Development, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities
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Mariana is a Senior Manager for Urban Development at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. By working on different projects, she provides technical support to develop integrated planning approaches for cities to become resilient, inclusive, low-carbon places that are better for people and the planet. Currently, Mariana manages the UrbanShift’s global initiative, a global partnership between UNEP, WRI, ICLEI and C40, funded by the GEF, that seeks to build capacity, share knowledge and raise climate leadership in Global South cities. Mariana coordinates the partnership, and leads the WRI work, including the City Academy, UrbanShift Labs, and geospatial analysis. Mariana holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from the Catholic University of La Plata, Argentina, and Masters Degrees in Public Policy and Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.
Ted Wong
Ted Wong Research and Project Associate, Data & Tools, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities
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Ted develops data products, analytical tools, and training resources to support governments in building sustainable communities. An ecologist by training, Ted has taught at several institutions of higher education, including Bryn Mawr College and Ursinus College. Ted has a B.S. and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and a Master of Forest Science from the Yale School of Environment.
Maeve Weston
Maeve WestonResearch and Engagement Specialist, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities
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Maeve Weston is the Research and Engagement Specialist at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. In this role, she supports research, communications, and outreach related to the Cities World Resource Report Towards a More Equal City and general research management for the WRI Ross Center. Maeve holds a Master’s in City & Regional Planning, and a Master’s in Environment & Natural Resources from the Ohio State University, and a Bachelor’s in Economics from Dickinson College.



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