ACTIVITY 1.2: Create inter-departmental core team


By Ash Oyofo / Updated: 28 Nov 2019


Developing and implementing a Sustainable Urban Mobility Planinfo-icon is a complex process that requires working across boundaries and sectors and coordinating between related policies and organisations (e.g. coordination with land-use planning, environmental protection, social inclusioninfo-icon, genderinfo-icon equityinfo-icon, economic development, safety, health, education, information technologies). To coordinate and manage this process, a clear project owner with sufficient capacities and resources as well as authorityinfo-icon within the organisations is needed to drive the process forward.



  • Establish efficient working structures for a planning process that makes the best use of available resources.

  • Achieve an integrated SUMP that considers linkages between different transport modes, rather than addressing them in isolation, and acknowledges the interactions between urban structures (land use, density, functions, socio-economic patterns, ecosystems) and mobilityinfo-icon.

  • Establish the planning of mobility and transport as a shared policyinfo-icon domain and not as an end in itself.

  • Ensure that basic sustainabilityinfo-icon principles are taken into account throughout the entire planning process.



  • Appoint a project coordinator with responsibility, mandate, and resources to facilitate and drive the planning process forward. In some cities, it has proven successful to appoint two coordinators that can exchange ideas and alternate their absences (such as holidays) to keep the process running at any time.

  • Also appoint a more senior project director, e.g. the head of your department, that provides the necessary high-level support to ensure cooperation - and that speaks up for the SUMP process on a steering level if needed.

  • Set up a core team as a project owner that is regularly involved throughout the entire development of the SUMP.

  • Ensure that the team members together have all management skills required to lead the planning process. This includes skills for the project, political, technical, financial and staff management (see also toolinfo-icon section of Activity 1.1).

    • Usually, the project coordinator covers most of these management skills, but depending on your local situation other team members may take over certain management tasks.

    • Liaison with the political sphere throughout the entire planning process is important. It can, therefore, be beneficial to have team members with good links to mayors, other leading politicians and key actors in your planning authority. (For more details on how to ensure political and institutional ownershipinfo-icon see Activity 1.3.)

  • Ensure that the team unites all technical skills and policy backgrounds required to make sound planning decisions throughout the process. Transport and urban planning are the most important skills, but knowledge of related planning areas, such as economic, social and environmental policies, is also crucial to achieving a truly integrated planning process whose outcomes are mainstreamed into other sectors. For example, if the SUMP is developed mainly by one department, the team should include members from several other departments or units.

  • Consider the operational skills required for particular planning steps when selecting team members, but keep the team at a workable size. Not all such skills have to be available within the core team, as other colleagues from your organisation can be brought in for the respective planning steps. For most public authorities, these specific skills may exceed the capacities of their staff, in which case external expertise should be brought in for particular technical tasks (see also Activity 2.4).

  • Discuss the results of your self-assessmentinfo-icon of planning practices, or optimally conduct it together as a team, to develop a common understanding of what sustainable urban mobility means (see Activity 1.1). Emphasise linkages between different transport modes as well as between urban structures (density, functions, socio-economic patterns, ecosystems) and mobility. Broaden the view beyond transport and mobility to the different needs of society – economic, social, environmental – that it needs to serve.


Activities beyond essential requirements

  • Encourage departments to send senior staff as members of your core team to show their commitment and emphasise the importance of the SUMP. Often there might be two (or more) core team members from each department, with the senior staff only attending meetings of strategic importance to keep the workload manageable for them. Alternatively, consider setting up a separate control group consisting of high-level decision-makers from your and other departments, such as the heads of department. The control group will support the core team in taking important decisions along SUMP development.

  • Cooperate with other departments or involve external partners (e.g. consultants, universities) to fill skill gaps (for more details see Activity 2.4).

  • Consider hiring people with a non-transport-related background for specific tasks (e.g. marketing). This helps bring in the fresh perspective that is a key part of Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning. Also, consider combining the resources of different stakeholders to finance staff.


Timing and coordination

  • Start from the outset and continually adjust working structures to changing needs and circumstances during the entire process.

  • Take into account the planning requirements and geographic scope of your SUMP (Activity 2.1).



✔ The coordinator of the planning process determined.
✔ A core team with all required skills set up that includes key authorities from the entire planning area.
✔ A common understanding of Sustainable Urban Mobility (Planning) developed in the team.


More info: 

GOOD PRACTICE EXAMPLE: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Multi-disciplinary Spatial Policy Team

Edinburgh’s SUMP is being produced by the Council’s Spatial Policy Team. The core team comprises transport and mobility planners, air quality professionals and urban, landscape and spatial planners. The wider team that can contribute on a case-by-case basis draws on the skills and knowledge of specialists from a range of transport teams (active travel, public transport, road safety engineering), land-use planners, sustainable development officers, economists and communication experts. The team is working on and coordinating three major inter-related projects: The City Mobility Plan (SUMP), a city centre transformation strategy, and the introduction of a low emission zone in Edinburgh.

Author: City of Edinburgh Council, collected by Wuppertal Institute


Inter-departmental core team supported by wider steering group of experts and stakeholders

In Bielefeld, the five-person SUMP core team included representatives from the offices of mobility, urban planning, and environment, as well as the office of the Head of Department for urban and mobility planning and the local public transport provider. Choosing senior team members that were also involved in relevant parallel planning processes ensured good coordination and a strong link to political decision makers. The team was supported by an experienced external expert that conducted the mobility analysis, moderated and documented the participation process, and developed a vision and objectives based on several workshops with a stakeholder steering group. All results were developed in close coordination with the core team, which met regularly to manage the process and take decisions.

Author: Olaf Lewald, City of Bielefeld, collected by Polis