The message of the President of ITPSL

Plnr. Devsriyani Jayasundara

I take great pleasure in congratulating all the Past Presidents, Secretaries and Council Members, Fellow Members, including Corporate Members, Associates and Students of the Institute of Town Planners Sri Lanka on the ITPSLs’ 40th – anniversary launching ceremony for being spirits of the Institute.

Since its inception in 1982, ITPSL gradually evolved to its highs as the umbrella nurturing professional Town Planners. We remember the Founders of the Institute with great appreciation, Late Professor Neville Gunaratne, Emeritus Prof. Willie Mendis, and Plnr. N.D. Dickson and all who contributed to establishing the Institute, whose hard work and commitment brought us to where we are today. We look back into the past 40 years, acknowledging our roots and appreciating our role as Town Planners to enhance the spatial development processes in Sri Lanka at all levels – national, regional, and local. We remember with gratitude all those who contributed to the ITPSL, both members and non-members in different capacities. Finally, we extend our heartiest appreciation to all the Past Presidents and the Executive Councils for guiding, shaping, and sustaining the Institute since its inception with their voluntary commitments. We launch the 40th-anniversary celebrations on 6th November 2021 as the first event of a series spreading over four months till the end of March 2022 consisting of several important events – the peak being the AGM in March 2022.

I could remember that when Tsunami hit Sri Lanka in 2004, ITPSL stood for the theme “Window Opportunity to Replan our urban settlements”. By taking the same positive heritage forward during this pandemic tragedy, I am confident to declare the 40th Anniversary celebration theme of the ITPSL as “Facing the Future with Confidence”. The emergence of the global pandemic has created challenges for spatial planners to rethink their tasks to operate the “Urban Engine” efficiently to reach national development goals and bring prosperity to its people.

The pandemic has created an environment that was predicted by Sir Arthur C. Clerk a long ago. Online transaction of goods and services, online learning, working from home, social distancing, declining demand for urban floor spaces, reduction in vehicular traffic etc., are some of the pandemic results; that require re-orient the role of Urban and Regional Planning systems.

Will “social distancing” gradually create “Social disintegration”? How can we resolve it through spatial planning interventions? How can we transform sensitive urban lands such as wetlands into innovative public outdoor recreational spaces to integrate communities while conserving their ecological values? How can we create competitive cities for rural communities to access the global market for the ever-growing demand for indigenous medicine, organic food and beverages, tropical spices etc.? How can we integrate universities with the urban system to make our graduates global players in the ITC, Science and Technology, and entertainment industries? How can we increase our cities’ competitive and governance rankings to become an accepted destination to attract high-end FDI? How can we guide our governments to manage natural disasters through land-use planning interventions? And to become a global tourism destination?

The rapid development of ITC across all the sectors has demanded the modern Town Planners to become more technically oriented. Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain Technology, processing of online development applications, promising results of 3rd industrial revolution, online education, and business transaction – all have made spatial planners acquire the knowledge of new technological advancements and apply to spatial planning systems.

Thus, I wish that during this four-month 40th-anniversary celebrations let we make committed efforts to re-orient the role of town planner to guide the future of our nation. Let’s Face the Future with Confidence.