The U.S. House of Representatives late yesterday approved language sponsored by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) recognizing the importance of professional exchange programs for urban planners and urging the State Department that they be continued, specifically highlighting Portland State University's successful exchange program with China's Ministry of Land and Resources. The language was included in a broader bill authorizing State Department programs.
“I am pleased that the House has recognized both PSU's program and the fact that something needs to be done to begin to manage the trend towards urbanization around the world,” said Blumenauer, a member of the House International Relations Committee.
The Blumenauer provision specifically recognizes the importance and continuation of professional exchange programs for urban planners from around the world to help share knowledge and innovation when approaching growing land-use and transportation planning challenges. The bill language points to the growing strain on natural resources, health care, education and economic capacity with increased urbanization around the world, and the importance of properly training and educating planners to deal with these challenges.
Portland State University's program is highlighted in the bill as a model for exchange programs for urban planners. Its program is run through the National Policy Consensus Center with the assistance of the School of Urban Studies and Planning, both housed within the College of Urban and Public Affairs at PSU, and the Portland-based based China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development.
The goal of the program is to build the capacity of Chinese leaders in sustainable land use and development, to create a two-way exchange of ideas between experts from both countries and to serve as a catalyst for project development and joint ventures. Over the past four years, 250 Chinese planners have traveled to the College of Urban Studies and Planning for training in sustainable land use planning.
“Congressman Blumenauer's work to secure recognition of the PSU exchange program builds on PSU's commitment to sensible planning and urban development that focuses on sustainability and livability,” said Daniel O. Bernstine, president of PSU. “The Congressman's leadership will sustain and enhance PSU's efforts in capitalizing on Portland's reputation as one of the world's most sustainable cities. It also recognizes that PSU will continue to serve as a national model for city and regional planning exchange programs.”
Both Blumenauer provisions were included in H.R.2601, the "Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007." A companion bill awaits approval by the United States Senate.
Tim Daly, Rep. Blumenauer’s Office, 202-225-4813
Kathie Eastman, Rep. Blumenauer’s Office 503-231-6995
Greg Wolf, National Policy Consensus Center, 503-725-9078