Out of more than 3,500 TED talks, there are many gems about cities and urban planning. Here are the 8 best ones.

One of the best ways to familiarise yourself with a topic is watching a TED talk about it. These engaging, 10 to 20 minute-long talks are freely available and feature the brightest minds who present their key ideas and visions.

With more than 3,500 TED talks available, it is not easy to know where to begin. However, if you made it to parCitypatory, your interests are likely to lie in urbanism, participatory planning, community engagement and the effect climate change has on cities. There are many TED talks providing solutions for these challenges centring around SDG 11.

Here is an overview of my favourites, starting with an introduction by an urban planning icon:

Jaime Lerner is often described as a “city evangelist”. He sadly passed away in May 2021, but his legacy is here to stay. The former mayor of Brazilian city Curitiba was most famous for his urban acupuncture approach, and we even read his book in our book club. Read my related blog post here:

Next, here are three great TED talks about community engagement in urban planning. Too often, planners do not engage with communities and instead plan for what they think is best. We have learned, though, that normally affected populations know best and need to be involved in the planning process. These three speakers emphasise that point:

SDG 11 calls for more equity and inclusion in cities. The speaker of this next TED talk takes a closer look at how to make our cities more just:

If you are looking for quick fixes, you won’t find them – cities are just too complex, and the challenges we face cannot be solved in a one-size-fits-all approach. This TED talk gives you a good overview of key principles to keep in mind, though:

Last, but definitely not least, there are some really good TED talks about the links between climate change and urban design. In many cities, we are already seeing the impacts of climate change. Like most of the SDGs, SDG 13 on Climate Action sees cities as a key location for implementing a more sustainable and resilient future.

Happy watching!

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