One Nation, Two Planning Systems? Spatial Planning and Multi-Level Policy Integration in Ghana: Mechanisms, Challenges and the Way Forward

Ransford A. Acheampong, Alhassan Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Effective integration across policy domains and between spatial scales is indispensable in dealing with the inherently complex process of policy formulation and implementation at all levels. In this paper, we examine the key features of Ghana’s spatial planning system focusing on the mechanisms and challenges of policy integration in practice. We show that a combination of path dependence and recent reforms has inevitably created two distinctly separate planning systems: an established Development Planning System and a newly instituted Spatial Planning System. Under the established notion of the ‘spatial’ being distinctively separate from the ‘socio-economic’ in planning, these two systems deploy separate institutional and legal arrangements as well as policy instruments to accomplish the task of planning. Within this context, mechanisms to ensure effective policy integration were found to be weak and ineffective. Moreover, the absence of a tradition of strategic regional planning and a culture of strategic partnerships among local authorities, the lack of appropriate institutional arrangements and sustainable sources of finance and duplicitous institutional functions were the key barriers to effective integration within the new concept of hierarchical spatial planning. We argue that a new paradigm of integrated planning under a unified planning system is urgently needed as a pre-condition for effective multi-level policy integration. We suggest that some forms of institutional restructuring would be necessary to establish a tradition of integrated planning. Finally, we recommend the use of legally binding mechanisms to institutionalize and enforce a culture of strategic alliance among local governments in cross-cutting matters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Forum
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Keywords

  • Ghana
  • Governance
  • Integration
  • Mechanisms
  • Planning instruments
  • Spatial planning

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