Urban resilience through integrated spatial planning։ Armenia’s key learnings for the region

Feb 28 2024

Armenia's unique landscape is often at the brunt of seismic challenges. This has presented the Government the opportunity to implement a variety of urban development strategies tailored to its seismic risk zone. In response to such geodynamic processes, Armenia has not only embraced cutting-edge guidelines for earthquake-resistant construction but has also focused on the renovation of existing housing stock.

At the center of this is the implementation of a “micro regional planning document”, a participatory spatial plan aimed at fostering balanced territorial development with a green energy focus. Armenia's focus on integrated governance, community involvement, and a holistic approach to spatial planning, sheds light on valuable lessons for sustainable urban development in the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Considering that Armenia is in a seismic risk zone with geodynamic processes throughout its’ territory, it has adopted new guidelines for earthquake-resistant construction, as well as enforcement of existing housing stock and its renovation.

Another important milestone is the protection of historic heritage and adaptive reuse of industrial abandoned areas from the post-Soviet cities, done in parallel with the modernization of the housing stock, urban fabric, mobility enhancements and low carbon transport.

The development of these policies ensures active involvement of local communities through public discussions supported by decentralization of governance processes in the country, in line with the pledge of “leaving no one behind”.

A key learning for the region is Armenia’s integrated and participative governance model for urban planning which has proved to be more effective for achieving sustainable urban regeneration and growth.

Analysis of Armenia’s existing human settlement system uncovers disparities and uneven utilization of territorial resources as well as urban expansion to agricultural lands and on the other hand shrinking settlements in the suburbs.

In response to these spatial development challenges, several priorities to promote sustainable territorial arrangements from Armenia’s experience based on integration of social, economic, environmental and cultural demands emerge. These include priorities to strengthen:

  • Polycentric urban growth to formulate a sustainable settlement system across regions for a balanced spatial structure with cities as centers of the system.
  • Cities’ urban structure and their inclusive governance systems.
  • Partnerships for balanced territorial development between urban and rural areas.
  • Economic capacity of the region by building integrated economic relations between the components of urban clusters.
  • Disaster risk management including addressing the adverse impacts of climate change such as flooding.
  • Ecologic frameworks and cultural resources as part of new urban development strategies.
  • Ecological frameworks, which integrate public spaces, attract a number of key development functions and affect climatic conditions, along with being places for leisure and culture-which are essential for social life.

    Since 2017, joint planning projects have been developed for marzes (regions) of Armenia. Due to the clustering of the communities, they need new urban models and general concepts for their spatial structure to respond to new development challenges

  • The conceptual, socio-economic justification of combined spatial planning should be aimed at identifying internal potential opportunities and preconditions of the region as a complete planning unit cluster and communities, interconnected by mutual territorial, economic and infrastructural relations. The ongoing spatial planning programs improved local policies and designs for safe, inclusive and accessible public spaces, which support more compact, integrated and connected, socially inclusive cities and neighborhoods in partner settlements of the urban cluster-joint community.

    In addition, the documents recommend solutions to address the problems of providing proper housing to the forcibly displaced population from Nagorno-Karabakh, and those displaced as a result of disasters.

    Armenia's experience in advancing sustainable urban development and localizing the SDGs provides valuable insights and policy implications for the wider Asia-Pacific region. The region can draw upon these lessons to formulate and implement effective policies for sustainable urban and territorial development.

    Omar Siddique
    Economic Affairs Officer

    Nune Petrosyan

    Deputy Chairman of the Urban Development Committee of the Republic of Armenia

  • https://www.unescap.org/blog/urban-resilience-through-integrated-spatial-planning-armenias-key-learnings-region

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS