Victoria Willes | Ottawa, Ontario
Victoria is an urban analyst and planner specializing in economic development and post-conflict planning. Her practice spans urban and rural contexts, across Canada and abroad. As a Member of the Board at the Atlantic Planners Institute, Victoria had a strategic and advisory role in shaping the planning profession and industry response to Atlantic Canada’s social and economic challenges. More recently, she worked with the World Bank (Washington D.C.) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP IICPSD, Turkey) designing programming to address disparities in digital development, increase community resilience, and foster capacity-building in the Middle East and Africa. Victoria holds a Master of Planning from Dalhousie University with a research focus in land development economics, international development planning, and spatial justice. Victoria also earned a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) from the University of British Columbia specializing in urban studies and comparative public policy. She was a finalist in the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), Resilient Planning competition and now serves on CAP’s urbanization and sustainable development research panel.
About the Conference of Defence Associations Institute
The CDA Institute is a non-partisan research organization whose mandate is to provide research support and promote informed public debate on national security and defence issues.
About the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence
‘Securing Democracy and Sovereignty Against a Thousand Cuts’
The 89th Annual Ottawa Conference, virtual edition, brought the world to Ottawa for a conversation about values, threats, new and emerging technologies, alliances, and building resiliency together. It contended that the rules-based international order on which global peace and security rests is under strain, and needs defending now more than ever since it was founded, because it is a vehicle for making the world safer, more prosperous, and which can enhance human rights and democracy. Not only are these good for Canada; they are good in and of themselves.
From Victoria's Blog:
“As an urban planner, my approach to ‘peacebuilding’ is equal parts conceptual and literal. I practice at the intersection of security and urbanization, working to develop and orient the building blocks of a safe and resilient community. Adopting a system-view, a networked understanding of ‘local’ conflict is central to my work, and I continue to reflect on how redefining ‘security’ parallels the expansion of questions and considerations in broader development work. Addressing how societies repair and reimagine themselves is invariably complex and spans competing scales and timelines. The aggregate layers of reward and grievance that propel conflict equally complicate its wake. In planning, the task becomes designing a built environment that positively reshapes dynamics of power in place; to create spaces that help undermine mechanisms of violence and facilitate community resilience.
It’s a lofty task, and it’s admittedly idealistic to position a well-designed built environment as the keystone to safe communities. To be clear, there are no ‘silver bullets’ in peacebuilding and development work. That said, the process of interrogating place, of closely examining how power maps in a community, can yield meaningful and actionable insights.”