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Towards cities of integrity: The role of urban planners

Getting urbanisation right is a prerequisite for human development and environmental sustainability. Yet, corruption risks in urbanisation abound and threaten to stymie ambitions for a prosperous, inclusive, resilient urban future. Corruption in urban development is a particularly important challenge. A potentially potent source of integrity in this regard has received little attention: The professional community that urban planners are part of and the self-image, purpose, values, and ethical responsibilities this community seeks to project.

19 November 2019
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Main points

  • Corruption risks in urbanisation threaten to stymie ambitions for a prosperous, inclusive, resilient urban future;
  • Decisions around zoning, land management, infrastructure and service build-out offer some of the most sophisticated, inscrutable and lucrative ways for personal enrichment, crony capitalism, clientelism and political patronage;
  • Corrupted urban planning and development deprives rapidly growing cities of urgently needed resources to expand services and upgrade infrastructures.; in the long run corruption threatens to hardwire unjust economic, social and political relations into the fabric of cities;
  • A potentially potent, source of urban integrity has received little attention to date: The professional urban planning community.

Cite this publication

Zinnbauer, D.; (2019) Towards cities of integrity: The role of urban planners. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Brief 2019:4)

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About the author

Dieter Zinnbauer

Dr. Dieter Zinnbauer is a research fellow at Copenhagen Business School and has more than 25 years of experience in governance analysis, training and strategy advice for IGOs, NGOs, think tanks and academic institutions.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Marco Verch