The following message was written by our current and past presidents Roberto Rocco and Stephen Goldsmith reflecting on our congress in Addis Ababa and our future work. Following this message, I have included some photos providing impressions of our visit to Addis Ababa.
Greetings! Our Congress in Addis Ababa was a great success. With close to one hundred people attending our opening plenary session, we had an engaged audience that included our members, students from the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC), and distinguished faculty members. The discussions were meaningful and addressed challenges that citizens in Addis are facing at scales that we have not usually addressed in our Congresses.
In our effort to bring our ears and eyes to the city to understand more about the scope and urgency of rapid urbanization in Addis, we came away with both a deeper understanding of the challenges they face and new relationships with committed professionals wanting to expand collaboration with SCUPAD and individual members. Zegeye’s tireless work, along with his extraordinarily generous staff and colleagues, made the event a life-long memory for all of us. For this, we publicly express once again our heartfelt thanks to Zegeye, staff and students at EiABC.
Of particular note was the presentation by physician Dr. Molla Gedefaw, who serves in the Ministry of Health in Addis. Dr. Gedefaw eloquently described the consequences of planning practices in the region that fail to address the complexity of environmental, social and economic interdependencies. Specifically, he pointed out the need for what he described as a “multi-sectorial approach to planning.” As he described the public health problems which are emerging there due to a lack of integrated planning policies, we heard about the increasing rates of asthma, diabetes, automobile and pedestrian accidents and obesity that his office has to manage. “Nobody ever consults with us when making planning decisions,” reported Dr. Gedefaw. He went on to say that, “we are the ones who have to respond to the health consequences of planning decisions, yet we are not involved in the planning processes at all.” His words, along with his commitment to the health of those living in Addis brought our audience to new places of understanding and a new sense of urgency regarding our work.
As SCUPAD enters a new phase in its existence, with increasing participation of people from the Global South, we hope to build upon both the energy and wisdom that grew out of our time in Addis. We believe that the new voices we heard in Addis can join our chorus of devoted professionals in ways that can inform all of our work, no matter where we live. SCUPAD’s future as an organization is committed to expanding knowledge and advancing creative responses to the problems people around the world are addressing. The role of SCUPAD in working together with professionals, academic and citizens has never been more promising, or as urgent.
Our next Congress in Salzburg will address the urgency of migration, all types of migration, as another example of the urgent problems we face around the globe. We will be sending more information to you very soon. Until then, please know that we look forward to seeing you again at the Schloss in May 2017, and beginning a new chapter in SCUPAD’s legacy of engagement.
With all good wishes,
Roberto Rocco, President Stephen Goldsmith, Immediate Past President
The following photos give some impressions from the congress and student workshop: