LAHORE: The recently launched Punjab Spatial Strategy (PSS) 2047 sets out an ambitious agenda for shaping the contours of development based on an integrated and coordinated spatial planning in the province across multiple sectors of the economy over the next three decades.

The strategy plans to put in place structures and mechanisms to ensure that the PSS influences the spatial aspects of public sector planning, policies and programmes, including decisions on prioritising future investment, according to its authors.

The strategy will be implemented through a concrete framework that will be integrated within the existing development and planning procedures of the provincial government and executed by the Punjab Planning and Development (P&D) Board with support of provincial departments, development authorities and agencies and local governments involved in the provision and development of physical or social infrastructure. Private sector stakeholders associated with the provision of development-related interventions will also be part of the process.

The Punjab Spatial Strategy (PSS) with its policies and planning landscape will have a lasting spatial impact on policymaking, planning and development interventions by both public and private sector in Punjab, claim the authors of the strategy. Therefore, the strategy proposes formation of a Spatial Planning Authority of Punjab to be guided by the Spatial Planning Council of Punjab through an act of the provincial legislature.

The strategy is a long-term spatial planning and development framework for the province that is designed to ensure integrated spatial planning that aims to structurally transform Punjab into an economically developed region. The strategy vision is driven by seven strategic objectives layered with policy statements elaborating policy rationale, targets, key actions and stakeholders. It sets out spatial policies to provide direction to the broad pattern of public and private investments in the province and acts as a layout plan for continuous and sustainable development in the province.

The strategy calls for spatial planning across sectors that include industry, agriculture, connectivity, urban, environment, social and tourism sectors. It also focuses on improving Punjab’s global positioning in terms of attractiveness and competitiveness by way of leveraging its endowments and comparative advantage. The role of urban settlements is strongly anchored within the strategy’s growth framework that plans to transform these settlements into smart, competitive and livable places, as well as improve the quality of life by reducing intra- and inter-regional disparities and ensuring access to economic opportunities.

The achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are internalised as policy targets in each area while ensuring their alignment to national, international, provincial and sectoral vision. Sustainability and resilience remain at the core of the PSS. The role of environment protection and conservation will be pivotal in enhancing the quality of life of the people.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2019