Episode 21: How the Charter Cities Institute Promotes Inclusive and Adaptable Planning for Sustainable New Cities

May 28, 2023

Join me in this captivating episode of the podcast as I have an insightful conversation with Heba Elhanafy, an urban researcher from the Charter Cities Institute (CCI) Zambia. Together, we explore the fascinating world of charter city development and dive deep into the Planning Guidelines Report titled "Guided Organic Growth: An urban planning framework for charter cities." 

Discover the recommendations outlined in the report on how to enhance City Development, Urban Planning, and Mobility in new cities. Learn how taking a flexible and adaptable approach, in collaboration with communities, can lead to more inclusive outcomes for citizens and foster a holistic approach to city building.

In this episode, you'll learn about:
  • What are charter cities and why promoting good governance is at the heart of making them work
  • The benefits of taking an incremental approach to infrastructure development for more affordability and efficiency 
  • The importance of adapting urban policies and plans to the evolving needs of citizens
  • And much more!

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Guest: Heba Elhanafy, CCI Zambia

Heba is an urban planner and researcher. Her research interests lie in human settlements, culture, heritage, community, and new city development. Heba has been working as an urban researcher at the Charter Cities Insitute for two years. 


  • 03:19 | Introduction to Heba and her work
  • 04:47 | About the Charter Cities Institute (CCI) and its approach to urban development (.e. the Charter City Model)
  • 07:02 | What are Charter Cities and why is good governance so important?
  • 11:08 | Can you walk us through the planning guidelines report?
  • 16:09 | Can you explain more about the Guided Organic Growth Paradigm and why it is important for urban planners to keep in mind?
  • 24:58 | What are some key takeaways from the report that readers should keep in mind moving forward?
  • 27:20 | Do you have any insight to ensure urban planning remains flexible and remains a dynamic process?
  • 30:19 | In general, what can urban planners do to ensure that when making charter cities, the voices of the community are included and people don’t get left behind?
  • 29:23 | Can you tell us what’s next for your research or the work that you’re up to?
  • 33:32 | How can people get involved with CCI (i.e. their co-authorship program, etc.)

Show Notes



This episode is co-sponsored by the University of Toronto School of Cities and the Department of Geography and Planning. 

The School of Cities "convenes urban-focused researchers, educators, students, practitioners and the general public to explore and address complex urban challenges, with the aim of making cities and urban regions more sustainable, prosperous, inclusive and just". To learn more about the School of Cities visit www.schoolofcities.utoronto.ca

To learn more about the Department of Geography and Planning and the different undergraduate and graduate programs available please visit www.geography.utoronto.ca.

  • Editor and Music Producer: Imany Lambropoulos
  • Podcast Host and Graphic Designer: Alexandra Lambropoulos

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