Creative cards for participatory decision-making

MethodKit, Alexandria, Egypt

SDG 1: No povertySDG 5: Gender equalitySDG 8: Decent work and economic growthSDG 10: Reduced inequalitiesSDG 11: Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 16: Peace justice and strong institutionsSDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
MethodKit is an innovative non-profit-driven company that has created analogue card-based tools (deck of cards), designed to help developing ideas, get an overview of global issues and working together to discuss solutions. The purpose of the cards is also to organise thoughts and ideas, prioritise and engage in discussions. The different card decks address everything from the SDGs, urban planning, public space, gender equality, public health, to app-development.

Challenges within the urban planning process is often lack participation, but there is also a knowledge gap among decision-makers about social norms, values, and how gender inequality influence urban policy and planning. One reason for this knowledge gap is that politicians, urban planners, boards, building companies, etc. seldom communicate with each other in the extent that is needed. Methodkit believes that some of the biggest underlying problems are that the different actors in a planning process speak “different languages”preventing them from understanding each other, and a lack of platforms to meet. What is needed is tools to create dialogues

Good practices & solutions

So, Methodkit created a tool to increase dialogue between different stakeholders by summarizing the urban planning discipline into visual language in the form of a deck of cards.
The cards show the fundaments that need to be discussed in order to get a project started, and to further develop ideas. Methodkit has developed two set of cards that are closely linked to sustainable urban planning, i.e. Methodkit for cities, and Methodkit for equal places. The Methodkit for cities is a tool that help actors explore the complex social nature of a cities and develop an understanding of not just how the city is built, but also how it behaves. While some urban planning tools may impose certain solutions, Methodkit’s idea is to readjust the balance between professionalisation and participation by creating a tool that can be used both by professionals in the planning business, as well as citizens. Methodkit for equal places is based on a framework of gender equal urban planning, created through interviews, workshops and citizen dialogues together with gender experts, activists and urban planners. In combination, these two kits have successfully been used in workshops with Egyptian female architects and planners at the Swedish Institute in Alexandria.

Outcome & opportunities

Methodkit works as a frame for people’s line of thought, without deciding exactly what that frame should contain. It is meant to help people express their thoughts and feelings in the best possible way.

It can be seen as a tool to distribute knowledge through the room and shed light on questions or topics that might be forgotten if not all sectors are represented. The method also challenges norms and predefined opinions. In citizen dialogues there can be problems when decision-makers pre-define what areas to discuss, making them biased in their approach. The cards can be a tool to let people talk freely about what they consider important in an urban area, making sure that decisions-makers cannot decide what citizen value or what their opinions are.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The cards from the urban theme can be used anywhere in the urban planning process, from the comprehensive plan to detailed design, which makes it flexible and easy to use. It is a workshop method that creates an understanding of where a project is at the moment and where it is headed, as well as help brainstorming new ideas. Additionally, using cards invites more people to speak their minds about a specific topic, allowing more voices to be heard both through speaking and writing. The strength in Methodkit is to make everyone participate.

Related SDG targets
  • 1.7 Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions
  • 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
 Further reading

Photo: © Ola Möller/MethodKit

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Project: Urban Girls Movement