The Market vs. Agenda 21: Who is Right?


City planners' vision of Shanghai in 2020 at t...
City planners' vision of Shanghai in 2020 at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why Planners Need to Take Agenda 21 Criticism More Seriously – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities.

One of the indelible lessons learned in my nearly two decades living in China is that deferring to pure market forces and eschewing urban master planning is as much a pathway to unlivable cities as is overplanned municipal development. Surprisingly for a country built around central planning, the concept of “zoning,” much less sustainability, seems alien to Chinese city planners.

(We also joke bitterly about the design of highways here, suggesting that perhaps the roadways were designed by planners who had never actually driven a car. But I digress.)

Resistance to planning per se is thus wrongheaded, but the belief that there is a single set of rules to govern the development of urban and suburban areas seems equally out of touch with reality. It was thus with interest that I read The Atlantic‘s take on Agenda 21.

The failures to understand how planning may better utilize market frameworks in seeking sustainability, or how planning endeavors may be expressed in language appealing to conservatives, represent an egregious error.


The takeaway here is simple: we need to find a healthy middle ground between prescriptive planning and market forces. Taking an ideological stance either way is going to lead us to trouble.

The UN’s Agenda 21 bureaucrats and many professors of urban planning will be no happier with this than major developers. Tough. Development that serves the city, the state, and the country comes not out of boardrooms nor bureaucracies, but from a balanced interplay between the two that is ultimately moderated by common sense.

One thought on “The Market vs. Agenda 21: Who is Right?

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

The Golden West Review

A Californian Perspective on History, Arts, Land, Literature, and Politics

A Bucket and a Pen

Capturing Life after the Career

coffeesteffi ♡

coffee, art & my brewed thoughts

Sea Scout Ship 9201

Channel Islands Harbor • Ventura County Council, BSA

Troop 234, Boy Scouts of America

Port Hueneme/Channel Islands Harbor, CA

Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha

Musings and books from a grunty overthinker

The Chinafornia Wolf

Gratefully Chronicling a Remarkable Journey

The Thousand Books Project

Reading a Meaningful Life

Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.

Silicon Hutong

Addressing China as it is, not as we want it to be

Maura Elizabeth Cunningham

Historian and Writer

Runningwinegirl's Blog

Colorado Girl Sharing Insights on Wine, Public Relations and Life's Adventures

ARLIN REPORT...................walking this path together


Blue-eyed Ronin

A contrarian who enjoys challenging existing illusions, one truth at a time.


News, data and insight about the powerful forces that shape the world.

Promoting fair and accurate coverage of Israel

Who Said What

Barton's Blog

To the clouds and beyond...

Coffee Shop Rabbi

Basic Judaism spoken here.

Cami Ryan

Science, society, and life

Pacific Paratrooper

This site is Pacific War era information

______Assessing China / The TEA Collaborative______

Tech, Energy & Ambitions: Assessments at the Intersection of Technology, Investment and Policy

An Ordinary Website

of interest to few.

Der Bananenplanet

Alternatives Informationsmedium

Corey Robin

Author of "The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin" and "The Enigma of Clarence Thomas"

Ragan Communications

The Center Must Hold

The China Story

The Center Must Hold

Yale E360

The Center Must Hold

Xindanwei | 新单位

The Center Must Hold

The Center Must Hold


Freelancing in the Digital Age

FriendFeed Blog

The Center Must Hold


The Center Must Hold

Blog Daily Listings RSS

The Center Must Hold


The Center Must Hold

The Center Must Hold


The Center Must Hold


The Center Must Hold

WebMD Health

The Center Must Hold


The Center Must Hold

Village Voice

The Center Must Hold

Uploads from The U.S. Army

The Center Must Hold


Latest news and trends about tech in China

The Center Must Hold


The Center Must Hold

The Center Must Hold

Latest Items from TreeHugger

The Center Must Hold

%d bloggers like this: