Robust, Contingent and Complementary Plans: A Framework for Resilient Urban Development

Date and Time

May 31, 2011

10:15 am to 12:00 pm


As part of our new Urban Workshop Series, the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), Delhi are organising a Workshop by Prof. Arnab Chakraborty of University of Illinois on Robust Plans, Contingent Plans and Complementary Plans: A Framework for Resilient Urban DevelopmentAbstract – The practice of planning for urban development is often too focused on developing a single plan for a single desirable future and fails to adequately consider uncertainties and possible alternative futures. Uncertainties often arise from forces beyond the control of a single planning agency, for example, changes in projected trends in global oil prices, shift in central government priorities, or private sector dynamics. Uncertainties may greatly affect the efficacy of plans. Using the case of Washington DC, Arnab will demonstrate how to systematically incorporate uncertainties in the plan making process and use this framework to identify robust, contingent, and complimentary decisions and plans in an intergovernmental and strategic planning context such as the NCR. He argues that while a single future driven plan may be tempting to make and enforce; the institutional complexity of modern cities and metropolitan regions make a desirable future largely unavailable to planners. Instead planners should think systematically about uncertainty to improve the efficacy of plans and resiliency of cities.Arnab Chakraborty is an Assistant Professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on three complementary areas, viz. impact of land use policies on housing affordability, politics and praxis of regionalism, and strategic planning under complexity. He is an affiliate of the National Center for Smart Growth and, has previously worked for the Chicago Transit Authority and taught at the Johns Hopkins University. Arnab is a graduate of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and received his PhD from the University of Maryland at College Park. This is the sixteenth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society, and politics. For further information, please contact: Marie-Hélène Zerah at or Partha Mukhopadhyay