I have contributed to the establishment of the AESOP Young Academics Network during the mid-2000s and I have continued to be an enthusiastic supporter ever since. Therefore, it is my pleasure to write the foreword to this important volume of the international open access journal PlaNext – Next Generation Planning, which is a compilation of the most advanced proceedings from the 15th YA conference, that took place in Tirana, Albania, in the Spring of 2021. This conference was the first YA event to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its topic – “Governing the Unknown: Adaptive Spatial Planning in the Age of Uncertainty” – very much reflects the uncertainty that pervaded that period. Simultaneously, it drew inspiration from a lengthy wave of crises that, in Europe and beyond, have gradually increased instability and questioned our development models over the past 15 years. The global financial crisis, the escalating climate emergency, and the energy and food crises spawned by the Russia-Ukraine war have all highlighted the need for alternative models of development that prioritize quality over quantity, society and ecology over economy, equity over growth. These phenomena have had a disproportionate impact on weakened and marginalized communities, resulting in an increase in precariousness and uncertainty. This has for the first time since the post-war reconstruction brought to the fore of planning debates new questions about the capacity of mainstream development paradigms to tackle the critical notions of inequalities, poverty, vulnerability, and marginalisation. As a matter of fact, inequality and crises have mutually reinforced each other over time, with inequality that made cities and regions more prone to decline and crises casting light on and amplifying inequalities.