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Structure of a Voluntary Local Review

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Malmö conducted its first Voluntary Local Review in 2021. The review focuses on how the city’s steering and management system connects to the SDGs. The review comprises an evaluation and analysis of a selection of the city’s steering documents, as well as an analysis of how the principle of Leave No One Behind is incorporated through development programs for the city. In addition to evaluating the city’s progress through steering documents, a survey was disseminated to the city administration and Malmö owned corporations. The city organization arranged several workshops to discuss the results.

The review had three purposes: the first one was to identify how the city’s strategy relates to the SDGs; the second one concerned how the principle of Leave No One Behind was made visible in the city’s work for equal rights and opportunities; and the third one was to report on the progress towards the SDGs on the local level. The goal was to identify how the existing city strategies, programmes, goals and other processes steer towards the SDGs. In accordance with recommendations in guidelines, the City of Malmö analyzed the same nine goals that were highlighted at the 2021 High Level Political Forum. These goals were also especially suitable for Malmö’s local context: a majority of them concerned the social dimension of sustainability, and based on earlier evaluations of the city’s sustainable development, Malmö has identified social sustainability as an especially pressing challenge for the city.

The analysis of how the City of Malmö is working with the SDGs is based on nationally identified indicators. It has also been complemented with data taken from city departments as well as regional and national authorities.

Structure
The Voluntary Local Review is voluntary in every sense of the word: it is voluntary in its implementation as well as its content and structure. The fact that the target groups for the VLR were city officials and of Malmö owned companies had an effect on the structure and content of the review. Since they focused on the internal steering and reported on how it connected to the SDGs, the target groups for participation in the process of developing the VLR, as well as who it was designed for, were employees within the city organization. The reason why the report targeted the city officials was because Malmö had experienced that their SDG work had lost some of its power – and they therefore identified the VLR as a tool to fuel their sustainability work. It gave them the opportunity to reflect over earlier efforts and their effectiveness, as well as develop a common guidance on how they would continue working with the SDGs.

Malmö demonstrates the importance of constructing a VLR that is suited to the city’s own context. The goals that are analyzed are within an area that the city experiences especially challenging, which is also why there is a need to examine what has been effective and not in order to identify how to proceed. Therefore, the VLR does not have to include all 17 SDGs and the sub-objectives in order to be successful. Rather, a successful VLR is one that supports the city in its continued work with the SDGs – which Malmö identified in their own VLR process.


Further reading:

Voluntary Local Review – City of Malmö 2021 – A review of the city’s steering towards the Sustainable Development Goals

 

Photo: Pontus Ohlsson/Unsplash

Involving the citizens

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Bonn published its first Voluntary Local Review in 2020. Its structure is based on Bonn’s municipal Sustainability Strategy and focuses on six fields of action: Mobility, Climate and Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment, Labor and Business, Social Participation and Gender, and Global Responsibility and One World. Within the fields of action, several indicators have been identified and illustrate the development in those areas.

Bonn identifies the VLR as an important tool to spread information and education on the 2030 Agenda framework as a whole. The purpose of the VLR is to make the SDGs more accessible, and encourage a discussion about them between different societal stakeholders. Such a review can highlight and demonstrate the connections between the individual activities and projects that are organized by the city and the SDGs. Bonn’s VLR is meant to be read by local and national citizens as well as the international community.

The City of Bonn is in the process of conducting their second VLR, which will be published in June 2022.  

Involving the citizens
The City of Bonn has identified how the VLR can act as a tool to engage a dialogue with the citizens. The VLR presents a description of how the city is working with the SDGs by connecting them with the city’s fields of action. In that way, the VLR provides the residents of Bonn with necessary information and invites them to a substantiated discussion of the SDGs. However, the lack of knowledge about the SDGs makes it difficult for citizens to participate in their own cities’ localization of the global goals. The City of Bonn has tried to counteract this lack of awareness and knowledge by organizing events that puts the 2030 Agenda and sustainable development at the center of the discussion. Once a year, Bonn has the so-called SDG Days, during which they organize events that relate to the SDGs. The events bring the goals closer to the people by making them more comprehensible. The purpose is not so much to make the citizens understand the 2030 Agenda in general, but rather the idea behind it. 

The SDG Days is a way to achieve the city’s goal of spreading awareness regarding sustainability issues. During these days, parts of the city are decorated with bright colors in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda visual. Since the start of the programme in 2018, the events have always included a SDG wheel, on which the 17 goals are illustrated and explained; and the citizens have had the opportunity to engage in discussions about how the SDGs impact their daily lives, and to calculate their individual CO2 footprint. The events that are organized by the city are accompanied by other organization’s initiatives that also relate to the sustainability framework, and shops on the main street participate by decorating their windows and arrange events. 


Further reading:

Voluntary Local Review – Agenda 2030 on the local level. Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Bonn

 

Photo: Tim Rußmann/Unsplash

Strong indicators

Voluntary Local Review
The City of Helsinki has identified the Voluntary Local Review as an important step on the way to successfully implement the SDGs on the local level. Helsinki was the second city in the world to conduct a VLR: by the time they submitted their first VLR in 2019, only the City of New York had published one. The first VLR described the Helsinki City Strategy and how it connected to the SDGs, as well as how the city was working to promote and monitor the implementation of the global goals. The projects highlighted in the first VLR were chosen based on their importance for the realization of the City Strategy. Helsinki chose to focus on five of the SDGs in their VLR. The purpose of the review was to produce information about the city’s SDG work in an accessible way and act as a strategic tool for the city administration.

The City of Helsinki published its second Voluntary Local Review in 2021. In contrast to Helsinki’s first VLR, their second one was more comprehensive: it incorporated all SDGs and went beyond analyzing the strategy to instead cover the entire organization. The purpose of this review was to review progress through indicators as well as present qualitative descriptions of the city’s activities. A new city strategy was adopted after the second VLR had been published. In the strategy, Helsinki highlighted their work with evaluating the SDGs and confirmed their commitment to continue to monitor the development in the city.

Indicators
In order to decide on what indicators to include in the VLR, the City of Helsinki established a working group with the purpose of creating an indicator set for the city’s monitoring. The working group consisted of officials from different departments of the city organization. They started with hundreds of indicators, and ended up choosing 50 of them – including a selection of key indicators that were based on the Helsinki City Strategy. Helsinki realized during the process of identifying indicators that it was important not to exclude too many: it may be easier to have a smaller indicator set – however, it does not do reality justice since it may result in that important aspects are excluded. 

The progress of the indicators are highlighted and discussed in the VLR. In addition to that, the indicators are also presented on an electronic dashboard on a website where anyone who would like can follow the sustainable development in Helsinki. The indicators are presented in three main categories based on what dimension of sustainable development they address: social, ecological or economic sustainability. The indicators are updated continuously.

 


Further reading:

Helsinki Voluntary Local Review: From Agenda to Action – The Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Helsinki 2019

From Agenda to Action 2021 – Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Helsinki

Are you interested in seeing how Helsinki is doing on the Sustainable Development Goals? Click here to follow the development within social sustainability, ecological sustainability and/or economic sustainability.

 

Photo: Tapio Haaja/Unsplash

Produktionslyftet

Produktionslyftet (English: Production Leap, PL) was initiated in 2006 by the trade union IF Metall and the engineering industry association Teknikföretagen, starting with the presupposition that Swedish industries are in need of more efficient solutions and better coordinated procedures in order to endure and to profit from the transition to sustainable production.

Initially targeting enterprises of 50–249 employees, PL was launched as a nationwide 18-month professional coaching and educational programme. Subsequently, Chalmers University of Technology has developed a 7.5 ECTS course (“Lean Production”) especially designed for participants of the PL programme in collaboration with the other participating educational institutions. Another 7.5 course on sustainable leadership (“Lean Ledarskap”) developed at KTH Lean Centre was later added to the programme. PL moreover attempts to expand its use of digital solutions and shorter education periods in order to adapt to the needs of SMEs.

Different development groups contribute methodology and educational aspects. A package of presentations, materials, and educational stages was established to give access to a standard for each node and coach. LEAN was the main method chosen not only for the programme but internally as well, meaning that the involvement of employees is central to PL’s approach. The employees and management are ultimately supposed to work together to implement new methods and working philosophies gained from PL’s education.

PL moreover contributed to the launching of the Matlust project in Södertälje.

Related SDGs
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead
  • 9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
Further reading

Produktionslyftet

Re:Trout

As peri-urban and rural communities are struggling to maintain quality living conditions while simultaneously facing substantial ecological challenges, many ecosystems services, such as fishing, are gaining increasing amounts of attention.

Haninge Municipality participates in the Baltic project Re:Trout to realise its approach of restoring the often- depleted trout resources in creeks and streams (most notably the Vitsån creek) while empowering peri-urban stakeholders, both commercial and non-profit, in order to re-vitalise the peripheral parts of the municipality.

Fostering sport fishing in a commercially and ecologically sustainable way is the main challenge for the project. Project partners are sharing best practices as a way of promoting the shared outcome, the long-term ambition being more sustainable and jointly coordinated fishing tourism in the entire Baltic region. By bringing fishing associations and tourism companies into the discussion, Haninge hopes to foster new relationships, knowledge, and progress in keeping its archipelago and rural areas vibrant.

Related SDGs
  • 8.9 By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products
  • 11.4 Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage
  • 14.4 By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
  • 14.4.1 Proportion of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels
  • 14.6 By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation
  • 14.6.1 Progress by countries in the degree of implementation of international instruments aiming to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
Further reading

Interreg – Baltic Sea Region 

Frontrunners for Sustainable Innovation

The Frontrunners for Sustainable Innovation project is a collaboration between the science parks in the Stockholm region, including KTH and Openlab, with the goal of fostering new channels for digital, environmental, and life science SMEs to expand their operations and leverage.

Examples of such channels are market dialogues between stakeholders regarding particular issues and demands as well as innovation procurement. High importance is given to promoting digital services and products such as open data and IoT. By providing the involved science parks as testing and demo environments for relevant SMEs, the project aims to create better structures for sustainable innovation in the Stockholm region.

Related SDG targets
  • 4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
  • 5.B Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 8.2 Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors
  • 9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities
  • 11.6 By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
  • 12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
Further reading

Frontrunners for sustainable innovation

Hållbar utveckling 2022 Initiative

Hållbar Utveckling is a platform offering education and knowledge exchange about sustainable development, particularly targeting SMEs, larger companies, and public institutions. It was founded in 2012 by CEO Helena Lindemark.

One notable initiative from Hållbar Utveckling is the 2022 InitiativeTM in which they invite organisations to participate in a planned 2022 manifestation of the 50-year anniversary of the first UN conference for sustainability, held in Stockholm in 1972. The 2022 Initiative aims to promote further matchmaking between users and problem-solving actors and networking between actors working for achieving the Agenda 2030 SDGs.

Further reading

Hållbar Utveckling

Konsten att skapa stad

Nacka Municipality hosts Scandinavia’s only employed urban creator. This is part of their ambition to use art and design skills in enhancing social-ecologically sustainable values of public spaces, for example in terms of attractiveness, diversity, inclusion, energy efficiency and safety. By bringing artists into co-creation with civil servants and private actors such as construction companies, the municipality hopes to achieve a higher level of citizen participation in urban processes.

There may be several reasons and purposes behind the effort and activity in the art of creating urban spirit. In short, it can be described as follows:

  • Create an attractive and innovative city
  • Putting lights on or pay attention to a place or event
  • Developing an identity of a place, street or area
  • Offer oases in the middle of the building
  • Enabling a ”dead” building or site
  • Create quality public place where people are happy and doing well
  • Create increased speed and cost
Related SDGs
  • 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
  • 9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 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
  • 16.B Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development
Further reading

Nacka Municipality

Local 2030 Hub Partner WWF in Pakistan

In Karachi, the largest cosmopolitan city in Pakistan, communities in the peri-urban areas rely on mangroves and other forest trees for fuel to use at home. Burning wood for fuel, however, is unsustainable and negatively affects human and environmental health. Furthermore, mangrove forests are an important contributor to climate resilience. 

For three years, communities in Gadap Town, Maripur and Rehri, worked together with Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, WWF, and the electricity supply company, K-Electric, to provide clean and renewable energy solutions. The transition to clean and renewable energy involved in-depth community engagement to install solar energy systems, fuel efficient stoves and gasifiers in 2,561 households.

A total of 89 residents, including 43 women, have started new livelihood activities associated with the maintenance of biogas, solar gas and fuel-efficient stoves in their communities. Women have reported having more time to spend on income generating activities because renewable energy is more efficient than traditional firewood fuel.

The transition has brought positive benefits for the environment. In Rehri, manure was previously disposed of in the Arabian Sea but is now processed for use in biogas plants, thereby reducing organic waste in the sea. 

In addition, local communities have planted 90,000 mangroves and 63,555 saplings of other native tree species to restore local landscapes. This will help strengthen climate resilience and improve local biodiversity


For more information about our Local2030 Hub partner WWF, click here.

For more information about WWFs report on SDG synergies , click here.

For more information about Global Utmaning’s Sweden Local2030 Hub, click here.

Sverige Bygger Nytt

The construction business is largely homogeneous, and most of its employees are white, Sweden-born males. The sector has a vast demand for a new workforce in the near future, and if this need is to be met recruitment must reach other societal groups than the current one.

Currently, hitherto marginalised groups such as new arrivals and women have felt reluctant to pursuing a construction career for various reasons. The main objective of Sverige Bygger Nytt is to enable employment of people of diverse social backgrounds within the Swedish construction industry. The Swedish Employment Agency was considered the most suitable owner of the project after an early workshop using the Logical Framework Approach, a toolkit used by the UN and the Swedish Development Agency to deconstruct a problem and build a solution. During the course of the programme, more accessible entry into the construction industry has gradually been realised for participating individuals.

Related SDGs
  • 8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • 9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels
  • 16.7.1 Proportions of positions (by sex, age, persons with disabilities and population groups) in public institutions (national and local legislatures, public service, and judiciary) compared to national distributions
  • 16.7.2 Proportion of population who believe decision-making is inclusive and responsive, by sex, age, disability and population group
  • 16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements
Further readings

Sverige Bygger Nytt 

Verklighetslabbet Stureby

Stureby Nursing Home is a platform for innovation through Reality Lab, which currently includes 120 students from different professions, but a majority not from the area of medicine and care. This supports collaboration with the residents, their relatives, municipal employees, and researchers.

With the hybrid organisation Openlab providing Design Thinking methodology and student teams for innovation, the elderly residents are given a key role in shaping their environment. Other forums for co-creation are workshops planned with different themes and challenges. This opens up for stakeholder groups normally not involved in elderly care, which in turn puts particular demands on coordination, trust- building, and understanding.

Related SDGs
  • 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • 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
  • 8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • 9.2 Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
Further reading

Verklighetslabbet

Donate NYC Partnership

The City of New York aims to be zero waste by 2030 and thereby minimise the environmental impact of the city’s waste. Overall, New York aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The DonateNYC Partnership contributes to this aim. Overseen by the New York City’s Department of Sanitation, the DonateNYC Partnership is a network of non-profit organizations in New York City that accept and distribute second-hand and surplus goods. The aim of the partnership is to expand and promote New York City’s local reuse community through strategic collaborations and projects. By accepting unwanted yet usable goods, DonateNYC Partners divert close to 100 million pounds of material from landfills every year and serve over 1 million New Yorkers annually through reuse-funded social service programs such as family support, housing, healthcare, professional development, and feeding initiative.
Challenge

Logistics of transportation and storage is a major issue in any large urban centre, so also in New York City. To reach the goal of a zero waste New York City by 2030 it is necessary to accelerate the recycling and repurposing of waste by making it easy and finding incentives for companies and organisations to consider waste a valuable resource.

Good practices and solutions

The DonateNYC Partnership provides an online platform and mobile app where members of the partnership are able to list and exchange their available waste resources, items and materials with other members. To participate in the partnership, one has to register as a donor or recipient. For example, a clothing store could register as a donor of used clothes to the partnership, while a non-governmental organization register as needing used clothes to distribute to people in need. Through the platform, these two are connected, the clothing is reused by the NGO and the circle is closed. A newly developed section of the platform is developed to target food waste in New York City. In a similar manner, groups with available food post a donation listing, specifying the type and amount of food, its packaging and delivery requirements, as well as a pickup/delivery time. An algorithm then matches the donations to possible recipients, first by their required criteria (food type, quantity, storage requirements) and then by distance, starting with the closest organization first. Recipients are notified when a donation matches their criteria, and they have a limited amount of time to accept before the algorithm matches a second possible recipient.

Outcomes & Opportunities

One of the main goals of the DonateNYC Partnership program is to quantify reuse in New York City to understand the environmental impacts that reuse has on the local community. In order to accomplish this task, DonateNYC collaborates with the NYC Centre for Materials Reuse on Partner data collection and analysis. Organizations engaged in materials reuse may have limited time, staff, or means to track and analyse data about their reuse activities. This data, if collected accurately, can be used internally to understand and improve operations, and externally to demonstrate and promote the economic-, environmental-, and social benefits of reuse organizations. To accurately analyse and generate reports on Partner reuse data, DonateNYC has developed the Reuse Impact Calculator (RIC), a first-of-its-kind system that uses qualitative and quantitative data to analytically describe the environmental impact of the reuse sector in New York City.

Related SDG targets
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 12. 8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.

 

Photo: © Mike Rasching/Unsplash

Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme

The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) is a free facilitation service which uses industrial symbiosis to enhance business profitability and sustainability. The programme is carried out by GreenCape, a Sector Development Agency established by the Western Cape Provincial Government and The City of Cape Town, and provides a service connecting companies so that they can identify and realise the business opportunities enabled by using underutilised or residual resources (materials, expertise, logistics, capacity, energy and water). The program was the first industrial symbiosis program established in Africa and stretches across the Western Cape that covers six districts, including the City of Cape Town. It is one of a number of Green Economy initiatives of the Western Cape Government, supporting the province’s intention to become the Green economic hub of South Africa and Africa.
Challenge

South Africa faces challenges in regard to resource use, including its reliance on fossil fuels for energy, water scarcity, and high landfill rates. Industrial symbiosis aims to address this by promoting reuse and recycling of industrial waste. However, for industrial symbiosis to work it requires a high level of trust and co-operation between the parties involved in the symbiosis. WISP tries to overcome this challenge by facilitating mutually benefitting partnerships showcasing the social, environmental and economic possibilities of resources reutilization.

Good practices and solutions

WISP provides a free service that connects companies from different sectors with each other so that they can identify and realise the business opportunities enabled by utilising unused or residual resources, enhancing business profitability and sustainability.

In practice, facilitators from WISP support its member companies to implement synergies by organising samples, meetings and ensuring that each synergy is legally sound. The facilitators fill the gaps that its members, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, could experience due to lack of time or dedicated expertise needed to identify and implement resource-, waste- and energy management. In exchange for this free of charge service, the organisation asks for feedback on the financial, social and environmental benefits gained from the match to further improve future matches.

Outcomes & Opportunities

By sharing resources, the members of WISP cut costs, increase profits, improve their business processes, create new revenue streams and operates more sustainably. The industrial symbiosis network now consists of over 300 companies and 3,000 resources have been identified within member companies. The cumulative impact over the last six years has been the following: 36 600 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill; 147 700 fossil GHG emissions saved (equivalent to the electrical usage of 39 800 households in South Africa); R67.9 million generated in financial benefits (additional revenue, cost savings and private investments); and 143 jobs created in the economy (25 directly in member companies).

Related SDG targets
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.
  • 9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending.

 

Photo: © Chuttersnap/Unsplash

Sharing City Seoul

Seoul proclaimed its Sharing City Seoul Project on September 20th, 2012, along with a plan to conduct sharing projects closely related to the lives of citizens, and to create and diffuse the base for the sharing. Seoul sees the Sharing City Seoul project as social innovation measures that have been designed to create new economic opportunities, to restore reliable relationships, and to reduce the wasting of resources with a view to resolving urban economic, social, and environmental problems all-together. Seoul’s policy for becoming a sharing city aims to encourage the private sector to lead the way in exploring different areas of a sharing economy, while the local government is endeavouring to create infrastructures for the Sharing City Seoul Project and to promote and support sharing activities that are undertaken by the private-sector.
Challenge

Encouraging and facilitating citizens to adopt the new lifestyle of sharing goods and services to a higher extent, is a key challenge. Programs of educational events to raise awareness must be continuous – to ensure that interest, participation and efforts from all levels are ongoing and not just a passing fad.

Good practices and solutions

The Sharing City Seoul Project has four main objectives and targets: 1) Sharing allows the city to gain more benefits with fewer or less resources since it enhances the usefulness of resources. For example, the construction of a new building for community residents’ gathering will require a huge budget to secure sufficient space. If citizens are able to share the meeting rooms and auditoriums of the city hall, offices, and citizen centres that are vacant at nights and during weekends, however, they can use such spaces for gathering within a short distance without spending too much money. 2) When the sharing economy becomes reinvigorated, it can create new jobs and added values. Furthermore, citizens of the city may earn additional income by lending their idle resources to others at adequate prices. For example, they could earn additional monthly income by leasing their empty rooms to foreign tourists. 3) Sharing can contribute to the recovery of the disappearing sense of community, increasing interpersonal exchanges and restore broken relations since sharing promotes a trust-based, reciprocal economy. 4) Sharing contributes to resolving environmental problems created by excessive consumption. Sharing allows one resource to be used by a number of people, thereby effectively boosting the utilization. Furthermore, sharing connects resources to people who need them, which also reduces waste.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The initiative has certified 50 sharing projects that provide people with an alternative to owning things they rarely use, and given grants to a number of these projects. Certified projects range from local car-sharing company SoCar, and websites like Billiji that help people share things with their neighbours, to schemes that match students struggling to find affordable housing with older residents who have a spare room. One great results of the project are the increasing participation of citizens. Moreover, Seoul has opened up almost 800 public buildings for public meetings and events when they aren’t in use and Sharehub has organized a large public engagement and education campaign with conferences, seminars, reports and a book.

Related SDG targets
  • 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
  • 11.6 By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
  • 12.C Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities.

 

Photo: © Ryoji Iwata/Unsplash

E-waste recycling in China

A market leader in the area of e-waste material recycling in China, the Shenzhen based company GEM Co is internationally renowned for their pioneering battery recycling. The company was a 2018 finalist in the prestigious Circulars Awards and has taken the leading position in the high-tech recycling market in China.
Challenge

China is still by far the world’s largest consumer of raw materials. In 2015 its factories and industries accounted for about 50 percent of global steel, copper, nickel and aluminium demand. The demand for batteries in China is also growing exponentially. The Chinese government has set the target to increase the number of electric vehicles by five million by 2020, a target that looks likely to reach. This development puts a lot of pressure on the use of materials as well as an increasing need to shift to a more circular approach where battery components are reused in order to protect against supply and cost fluctuations. GEM Co Ltd has adopted a circular approach for almost two decades.

Good practices and solutions

GEM recycle materials from a number of industrial sectors including electronics, automobiles, batteries and wastewater. However, the company is most renowned for its recycling of battery, an important strategic sector for China due to the growth of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Recycling more than 10 percent of the total number of discarded batteries, or about 300,000 tonnes of battery waste per year, GEM has the highest capacity of recycling used batteries in China. Their technology enables the recycling of scrapped lithium batteries from electric vehicles, extracting the nickel, cobalt and other important resources, transforming them into materials that can be reused to produce new batteries.

Outcomes & Opportunities

GEM has combined the recycling industry with green technology. It has invested almost 300 USD million to build eight treatment centres around China, with an annual capacity to recycle 15 percent of China’s total used household appliances and 20 percent of China’s total used circuit boards. It has applied for 1,200 core patents in the field of waste recycling and material recovery and promoted international co-operation in the field of circular economy, for example co-operating with the University of Oxford.

Related SDG targets
  • 7.A By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology.
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 9. 4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.

 

Photo: © David Hofmann/Unsplash

Recommerce of clothing

Yerdle Recommerce provides the technology, service and logistics to facilitate the process of creating a “white label” service with the goal of making it easy for apparel retailers to buy back and resell used items. The term “White label” refers, in the case of Yerdle, to the process of upcycling used clothing to such a state that the original producer is able to resell the item as refurbished. Being a platform between consumers and producers, Yerdle is able to facilitate a closed circle of production – consumption – production.
Challenges

Sustainable production and consumption is key to a sustainable transformation of our societies. Consumptions based emissions of greenhouse gasses are one major contributor to global warming. Buying used clothes instead of new is one way of reducing the need for new production and extends the life cycle of the products. However, there is still a challenge in how to make used goods attractive and easy to buy for consumers. This is the challenge Yerdle addresses by offering a refurbishing service whereby apparel retailers are able to sell used goods in the same way as new ones, making the new/used divide irrelevant for the consumer.

Good practices and solutions

Yerdle provides the service of cleaning, repairing, refurbishing, photographing and posting on online stores clothes made available by customers in exchange of credits that can be used to buy refurbished items. After the clothes have been refurbished by Yerdle, the original producers are able to resell the items under their own brands, complete with warranties, customer service and return policies. Thus, reclaiming the secondary market and reducing the need for new production.

Outcomes & Opportunities

Yerdle is today partner with three major American apparel producers and retailers providing their services for them. Each item Yerdle receives is inspected, inventoried, cleaned, repaired, photographed and placed on the partner’s website. Eventually, it will be picked, packed and shipped to a customer. All of this is done by Yerdle under the partner’s brand. The end consumer never sees the Yerdle name.

Related SDG targets
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
  • 12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.

 

Photo: © Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash

Innovating small-scale farming

Asociația pentru Susținerea Agriculturii Țărănești, ASAT (Association for the Support of Rural Agriculture) is a Romanian non-governmental organisation established in 2014 as a country-wide network of partnerships between traditional organic small-scale farmers and nearby consumers and cities. Following a cooperation model of creating partnerships between organic and local agricultural producers and local consumers and businesses, the project supports sustainable rural development and traditional agriculture while at the same time offering small-scale producers a step into the larger market. The organisation has been very successful in establishing an alternative model for the development of traditional small-scale farms, a model through which farmers receive a fair price for their work and which protects them from the instabilities of the food market dominated by large agri-businesses.
Challenge

Even though large-scale and modern techniques of farming are efficient in producing a vast quantity of agricultural product, such techniques are dependent on using pesticides, relying on monocultures and other practices that are harmful and hazardous for the biodiversity of the area. On top of this, local and small-scale producers who are farming organic and sustainable agricultural products have been forced out of business in favour of the expansion of large agribusiness.

Good practices and solutions

ASAT helps small-scale farmers to capitalize on the benefits provided by traditional agriculture in Romania. With a cooperation model based on solidarity and with a vertical governance, the organization has established a nation-wide network connecting local food producers with consumers and businesses. This model ensures the sustainability of small-scale farming, their possibility of collective bargaining ensures that producers receive a fair price for their products. Not only does this model support the financial sustainability of locally produced agri-products, it also helps to preserve local biodiversity.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The ASAT project is guided by three pillars: 1) Ecology and sustainability: small scale farmers supported by ASAT deliver healthy organic products to their consumers. ASAT farmers also work hard at preserving Romania’s traditional seed diversity; 2) Social inclusion and solidarity: most farmers supported ASAT were marginalized people at risk of poverty before entering the partnership. Now they manage to make a decent living and slowly grow their farm through new investments supported by the partnerships (e.g. investments in greenhouses, irrigation systems, technologies, etc.); 3) Direct sales of farm-made products: ASAT farmers sell their product directly to their consumer circumventing all intermediaries. Furthermore, the co-operative solidarity foundation and governing model of ASAT has been identified as a key factor for success, confirming the importance of accounting for the needs and demands of the local community in the decision-making process.

Related SDG targets
  • 8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
  • 10.1 By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average.
  • 15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.

 

Photo: © Fineas Anton/Unsplash

Better Plastics

Banyan Nation, an Indian plastic recycling company based in Hyderabad, has received much international attention for its use of data intelligence to collect plastic waste and repurpose it by removing inks, coatings, and other contaminants using environment-friendly detergents and solvents. The plastic cleaning technology used by Banyan converts collected post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste into high quality recycled granules comparable in quality and performance to virgin plastic.
Challange

Around 20 million tons of plastic per year is consumed in India for products and packaging. India is world leading when it comes to the recycling of plastic bottles, some estimates that as much as 70-80 percent of bottles are recycled. That equals about 10 million tons of discarded plastic that makes it into recycling streams annually, but over 80 percent of this is downcycled into potentially contaminated low-value products. It is a large amount of downcycled plastic disabling the possibility to meet the uprising demand of virgin plastics. The challenge that Banyan Nation address is how to recycle plastic in such a way that it can be reused for the same original product, therefore closing the circle.

Good practices and solutions

The idea behind Banyan Nation is to limit the downcycling of plastic waste; when the plastic waste is contaminated with low-value plastics, product remnants like oils, shampoos and moisture and in certain cases heavy metals such as lead, phosphorus, mercury and the like that can be harmful to humans. The process of cleaning the plastic, as developed by Banyan, is able to produce a near virgin state of plastic making it possible for an upcycling, rather than downcycling, of waste. This technology has, for example, enabled car manufacturer to recycle a bumper into a brand new one at competitive cost, thereby enabling more effective use of resources.

Outcomes & Opportunities

To date, Banyan Nation has recycled over 500 tons of plastic, reduced over 750 tons of carbon dioxide, and diverted over 1,000 tons of plastic from landfills. Banyan is also the only Indian company yet to be recognized by ’The Circulars’, the circular economy award program, at the World Economic Forum in Davos for its pioneering work in developing closed-loop models in plastics recycling in emerging markets.

Related SDG practices
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.
  • 12.4 By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

 

Photo: © Simson Petrol/Unsplash

Retuna Recycling Mall

ReTuna Återbruksgalleria (ReTuna Recycling mall) is the world’s first recycling mall, revolutionizing shopping in a climate-smart way. Old items are given new life through repair and upcycling. Everything sold is recycled or reused or has been organically or sustainably produced.
Challange

Eskilstuna Municipality strives to be a green role model. In its environment-related development work, the idea came about to open a mall that had “regular” shops, but with a reused and upcycled range of products. The concept would attract a broad target group, and spread knowledge about sustainability and circular economy.

Good practices and solutions

The mall opened its doors in August 2015 and is located next to the Retuna Återvinningscentral, recycling center at Folkestaleden in Eskilstuna. It is easy for visitors to sort the materials they are discarding into the containers and then drop off reusable toys, furniture, clothes, decorative items, and electronic devices in the mall’s depot, called “Returen”. In the depot, staff from AMA (Eskilstuna Municipality’s resource unit for activity, motivation and work) perform an initial culling of what is usable and what is not. The items are then distributed to the recycling shops in the mall. The shop staff then perform a second culling, where they choose what they want to repair, fix up, convert, refine – and ultimately sell. In this way, the materials are given new life.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The business concept is working: In 2018, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria had 2 million € in sales for recycled products. But, ReTuna is more than just a marketplace. It also aims to be a public educator. ReTuna organizes events, workshops, lectures, themedays, and more – all with a focus on sustainability. The folk high school Eskilstuna Folkhögskola conducts its one-year education program “Recycle Design – Återbruk” on the premises. There are also conference rooms, where guests can hold climate-smart meetings. Organic lunch and baked treats are on offer at Café Returama.

In addition to offering sustainable shopping and serving as a public educator in relation to environmental issues, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria has generated over 50 new jobs. The mall has become international news – documentary filmmakers, journalists and curious tourists from around the world have visited ReTuna Återbruksgalleria. The concept is now spreading.

Related SDG targets
  • 8.1 Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries.
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

 

Photo: © Inspiration Feed/Unplash

 

 

Circular start-ups

Named the most advanced digital society in the world, Estonia has developed a comprehensive digital ecosystem comprising many aspects of everyday life. Taxation, voting, health, residency are some of the social services managed through e-solutions in e-Estonia, a movement by the government of Estonia to facilitate citizen interactions with the state through the use of electronic solutions.
Having been a global leader in the digital transformation for the last two decades, Estonia is today experiencing a boom in the start-up scene of innovative companies making use and developing on the foundation of the already fully digitalised Estonian society. Ranking third in Europe regarding the highest number of start-ups per capita, Estonia is also ranked 24 on the Global Innovation Index.
Challenges

With only 11 years left to implement the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, it is crucial that the private sector continues to develop services and products if we are to fulfil our global goals. It is evident that states and public service providers are not able to meet the challenges of sustainable development alone. However, for innovative companies and start-ups to commit to a circular business model with resource efficiency and sustainable growth as core values, they need the government to support technology development and small businesses as well as investors who cherish sustainability and realize the long-term profitability of such values.

Good practices and solutions

Favourable conditions for setting up start-ups in Estonia has created a scene of Greentech start-ups working with circular business models, trying to find market opportunities for innovative products, services and solutions for greater resource efficiency and sustainability. Inspirational start-ups to highlight as an example of best practices include:

• 3cular: Eco-innovative 3D printing that gives wood waste a new value. 3cular is reinventing 3D printing in a sustainable way, enabling manufacturers to produce any kind of wooden objects out of leftover wood material, increasing resource productivity and reducing the use of plastics as the most popular 3D printing material.

• Pillirookõrs: Reusable, biodegradable drinking straw made exclusively from reed that grows naturally on the shores of Saaremaa, in the Baltic Sea. Reed is processed into the straws without the use of any additives. Each one is handmade and can be reused and washed in the dishwasher. After the Pillirookõrs has served its purpose, it will decay completely; completing the circle.

• Rohepakend: Alternative to disposable plastic utensils and food containers made from recycled cloth. Individuals and companies donate fabric and Rohepakend gives it a new life as a sustainable and biodegradable food container.

Outcomes & Opportunities

According to e-Estonia the following reasons explain why Estonia is able to foster a culture fuelling the innovative start-ups scene:

• e-Services and the ease of doing business. Being able to conduct most tasks of setting up a business online through the e-Estonia platform and through other digitised service providers. Also, business-friendly taxation with a corporate tax rate at 21 percent with no double taxation on dividend income.

• People and community. The Estonian start-up community has good relations with the government and their voices are actively being heard as the government does its best to be responsive to entrepreneurs and start-ups.

• Developed and affordable living environment. The quality of life in Estonia is high but at the same time it’s very affordable: Tallinn is one of the more affordable capitals of the EU while also among the most connected cities in the world, offering almost universal free public WiFi and free public transportation for residents.

• Ease of hiring talent. Estonia has also made it easy for local start-ups to acquire foreign talent, as in January 2017, the country launched its Start-up Visa.

Related SDG targets
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10‑Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, with developed countries taking the lead.
  • 9.4 Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries.
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.

Photo: © Jaanus Jagomag/Unsplash

Mistra SAMS

Mistra SAMS (Sustainable Accessibility and Mobility Services) is a transdisciplinary research programme and platform for investigating obstacles and opportunities regarding the transition to sustainable transport, mobility, and accessibility in urban environments. Through two on-going living labs in Stockholm, participating residents contribute in testing apps and other ideas for changing the conditions for urban travelling, for example, in order to increase the amount of travelling outside regular rush hours.

Challenge

Sweden’s vision is to become the world’s first fossil-independent country. A tough challenge that requires a number of new solutions. To get there we must, among other things, have a vehicle fleet that is independent of fossil fuels at its latest in 2030 according to the Swedish Transport Administration. That is not the only challenging goal in the transport and environmental field. The Paris climate agreement places additional demands on new solutions, as well as a decision in the City of Stockholm that car traffic must decrease despite the increase in occupancy. In order for the congestion and emissions in major cities not to become unmanageable, it is necessary that we receive a reduced demand for car-borne transport and an optimized use of the existing infrastructure.

Good practices & solutions

Mistra SAMS’s vision is that by 2030, Sweden will have reached accessibility and mobility in the metropolitan regions that contribute to achieving the sustainability goals, and which at the same time meet the needs of broad user groups through new accessibility services. The program initially examined successful accessibility and mobility services available in other countries to find good examples.

Mistra SAMS studies digitally supported services for accessibility and mobility, to understand their potential to transform society and contribute to sustainability. The aim is to provide insight into insights into public actors’ possible roles and means to influence new accessibility services and platform technology. Which pathways are open to public actors, and which are the effects of those pathways on long-term sustainability targets?

The programme is hosted and managed by KTH Royal Institute of Technology in close cooperation with VTI Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute.Together with its partners, Mistra SAMS conducts innovative research on the transformation of accessibility in primarily an urban environment.

Related SDGs
  • 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
  • 9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
Further reading

MISTRA SAMS 

Changers Hub

Challenges

Changers Hub emerged as a local voluntary initiative at a youth centre in Alby, Botkyrka, a suburb with socio-economic challenges. The main objective was to inspire local talents and help uninspired youth become more motivated to pursue careers and education.

Good Practices & Solutions

Since then, the hub has grown into a co-working space aided by the municipal office and various private companies, offering a wide range of seminars and workshops to exchange knowledge and best practices. The board of Changers Hub still mainly consists of young people from suburban areas, while an additional chapter of the hub has been opened in central Stockholm in order to enable suburban youth to connect with other parts of the region and transcend social boundaries. Social Recycling, a concept developed by Changers Hub in their project application to Arvsfonden, is a way of integrating two groups in the same area, namely local young individuals having undergone a successful career path and those with less motivation, guidance, and/or opportunity. The principle is to have the second group be inspired by the first. This approach is strategically developed in the context of socio-economically challenged areas and suburbs, in which the majority of residents are born outside of Sweden or face challenges of discrimination due to their parents being born outside of Sweden.

Related SDGs
  • 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
  • 8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • 8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • 9.2 Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries
  • 10.1 By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
Further reading

Changers Hub

Digital Demo

Challenges

The public sector of Stockholm and Stockholm County needs new forms of partnership to manage some of the most urgent challenges of today and the approaching future decades. Increased pressure on health services, a diminishing supply of fresh water, and an increasing percentage of elderly are a few examples of problems that public actors can no longer handle on their own. In order to secure a socially and ecologically sustainable city, technological solutions need to be developed using a combination of academic, commercial, and practical knowledge. Digital Demo Stockholm (DDS) was initiated by KTH and the two major public actors in the region, the City of Stockholm and the Stockholm County Council. The purpose was to generate innovative solutions to societal problems using digital techniques and to establish lasting structures for trans-sector partnerships in the region.

The companies involve, of which many were already established partners of KTH and its education programmes, had a particular interest in accelerating digital innovations in order to demonstrate these to their many visitors from all over the world. Stockholm, with its relatively small population, is not an important market for any of the companies itself, but rather is an exhibition arena for global investors.

Good practices & Solutions

Forming a think tank consisting of partner representatives, DDS decided to match its demos against an already existing challenge-driven inventory of societal challenges in the City of Stockholm. These challenges were broken down into workshops during which a number of possible demo projects were picked out. The industrial partners assumed a project managing role for each demo and then applied for funding from Vinnova’s R&D programs. Openlab supported DDS with a process manager, using Design Thinking as a chosen methodology for creating innovative solutions. Testing, evaluating, refining, and re-testing is thus a regular process throughout the DDS operations and its demo projects.

“DDS … is more like a big learning process than it is a project”

DDS is heavily dependent on commitment from the leadership. Being a cross-sectorial collaboration, it demands more of its participating individuals than it would if run by only one actor. The steering group has to be ready to intervene in case there is no progress.

The procurement of innovative products and services faces obstacles from Swedish legislation. To tackle these obstacles, DDS appointed a policy council with the specific task of clarifying the necessary legal, operational, and commercial frames in which the partners need to operate.

Outcome & Opportunities

In 2018, DDS had six on-going independent demo projects: iWater, Tech Tensta, Smarta lås (Smart Locks), Smarta trafikljus (Smart Traffic Lights), Safe user-centred healthcare and social care in home environments, and Energy Efficient Healthcare. The results have been tested and presented, for example, in May 2018 at Openlab.

Lessons learned & Recommendations

Each participating actor needs to acknowledge the benefit they gain from the partnership. Municipal politicians need to understand the value of them achieving political leverage from innovation within DDS; business leaders need to see that they attract investors even though not achieving direct gains from the process; and researchers need to appreciate the relationships and networks that they build during the process.

Related SDGs
  • 4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
  • 6.4 By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • 7.A By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology
  • 8.2 Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors
  • 9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
  • 9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.6 By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
  • 11.B By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels
  • 12.2 By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • 13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Coaches for Climate and Energy

Coaches for climate and energy are a national initiative carried out locally that help smal and middle sized companies to reduce their energy use. The coaching is independent, free and voluntary. The investment is financed by the EU and the Swedish Energy Agency, but is largely carried out under municipal auspices in order to have as locally rooted work as possible. The coaches help the companies to lower their running costs, learn about energy and climate and lower their carbon dioxide emissions. The project runs until mid-2020 and is continuously evaluated by the municipalities to see if the working method can be implemented in the regular operations after the end of the project period.

Municipalities that are part of the project:

Stockholm, Sundbyberg, Järfälla, Sollentuna, Solna, Borlänge, Orsa, Mora, Älvdalen, Rättvik, Leksand, Gagnef, Vansbro, Malung-Sälen, Gävle, Sandviken, Hofors, Ockelbo, Gotland, Halmstad, Kungsbacka, Berg, Härjedalen, Krokom, Ragunda, Strömsund, Åre, Östersund, Tranås, Aneby, Eksjö.

Challenges

It is urgent to reduce energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. Another important matter is to support the competitiveness of small businesses in order to have a more equal society, but also to be able to maintain nice city centers with service close to the population.

Good practices & solutions

The coaches start by going through the company’s entire energy use. This is done on site by going through premises, machines, routines and electricity bills. Calculations are then made on how and where the company can save money, carbon dioxide and energy. The company receive a detailed report with the results, tips on further education and training on the subject and an offer of coaching to go from word to action. The company is also invited to seminars, study visits, fairs or other events that the project organize on the theme of energy and climate.

Outcome & opportunities

Companies usually have great savings potential, 50% is not uncommon. There are many good examples in Sweden of companies that have gone from words to action. The companies appreciate the coaches help and hopefully they will continue to be aware of the connection of their own energy use, electricity bills and profits, carbon dioxide emissions and climate. The project also often result in better and closer relationships between companies and municipalities. New relationships between municipalities and between departments within municipalities are created at the same time (eg collaboration between business unit, supervisory unit and environment/climate unit) when challenges of different nature are included in the work on energy efficiency at small companies, such challenges that have hitherto been addressed quite isolated from each other.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The most important insight is that personal meetings are crucial to change. When the coaches and entrepreneurs meet face to face the insights come and the will for change is born.

Related SDG targets

7.2 – Increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

7.3 – Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency

8.2 – Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors

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

11.6 – Reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management

11A – Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning

11B – By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels

12.5 – Substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse

12.6 – Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle

12.8 – Ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

13.1 – Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

13.2 – Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning

13.3 – Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning

17.17 – Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships

Further reading

http://www.energimyndigheten.se/nrp/coacher-for-energi-och-klimat/

The Oukasi Saving Scheme

In 1992, Mrs Rose Molokoane founded the Oukasi Saving Scheme in South Africa. It later became the Federation of Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP), one of the federations under Slum Dwellers International (SDI).
Challenge

Oukasi is a very small township of informal character, 35 km out of Pretoria in South Africa. With support from the government, the settlement could install water and sanitation facilities, as well as electricity. However, this infrastructural support did not match the number of people living in the community and the infrastructural systems in the town were constantly overloaded. Electricity shedding, toilets breaking, sewage leaking on the streets and water shortage were part of the everyday life.

Good practices & solutions

In search for alternative ways of addressing Oukasis challenges, a team of delegates travelled to India to meet with a group of women in India that had organised a local collector/treasurer collective in their informal settlement. Inspired by these women the Oukasi saving scheme came to be. It sought to address four main challenges within the community: Stay-at-home women burdened with caring duties and without income or resources; General unemployment; A misconception of landownership and; Attention from the government.

Outcome & opportunities

One outcome of the saving scheme has been a new found confidence in the women involved. It educated most of them in how to the small amount of money they had and gave them the knowledge of managing bigger sums of money. The main reason for this newfound empowerment cannot be found in the money itself but the sense of community that occurred when the women got together to help each other out of poverty. After being successfully implemented in Oukasi, the saving scheme expanded to the whole of South Africa and lay ground for the Federation of Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP), an organisation now established in 9 provinces and a federation under Slum Dwellers International (SDI).

Lessons learned & recommendations

In order to succeed with development, it is important for the people and the government to cooperate and create sustainable change. SDI is encouraging people to empower themselves and come together to talk with one voice. It is important, especially for the poor people, to organize themselves and show the government the change they want to create. That way it is possible to shape the policies that later defines the urban landscape.

Related SDG targets
  • 1.1 By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day
  • 1.b 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
  • 2.1 By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular
    the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round
  • 3.3 By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases
  • 5.a Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws
  • 6.2 By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • 7.b By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries,
    in particular least developed countries, small island developing States
    and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support
  • 8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • 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
Further reading

#Women4Cities interview – Rose Molokoane

#Women4Cities

FEDUP

CULTIVATING CITY BAZAARS

Cleantech Högdalen is a cluster of environmental technology businesses in the Stockholm industrial suburb of Högdalen and run as a project and budgetary assignment from the City of Stockholm. It was founded by Tillväxtverket (Board of Enterprises), Vinnova (Board of Innovation), Stockholm Cleantech, IVL, Svensk Solenergi, Science Partner, Högdalsgruppen and the County Administrative Board of Stockholm. Despite initial lack of interest from local actors, Cleantech Högdalen managed to establish testbeds such as organic waste management development. Throughout the project, a network of more than 100 private and public enterprises focussing on sustainable energy, systems integration and energy optimisation has been established.

Challenges

Local property owners in Högdalen prospected for new ways of improving existing buildings in innovative ways. Cleantech Högdalen decided to test indoors cultivation of food products, since this concept was largely unexplored in Stockholm. While the promotion of green technologies and local businesses was the main objective, a driving vision was also to create job opportunities for people with professional disadvantages while creating prerequisites for more sustainable food production. Thus, Odlande Stadsbasarer was initiated in 2017, cultivating greens in abandoned
facilities in central Högdalen.

Good practices & solutions

In 2016, the municipality of Botkyrka had intended, with support from Vinnova, a pilot of cultivation in garage buildings, but had soon withdrawn due to highly calculated costs. Learning by their example, Odlande Stadsbasarer made sure only to use existing and unused buildings in order to keep down expenses. From an early stage, dialogue within the consortium was centered around recognizing approaches and operations with positive results and then cautiously scaling these up. Enterprises with sufficient financial capacity would cover their own expenses and risks when overtaking property targeted for growing, since it was considered unsustainable to demand this risk to be taken by public actors.

Furthermore, moving from a general business innovation approach to a more particular focus on each involved enterprise proved more feasible. Keeping the main focus of supporting local business and commerce innovation, rather than “improving the world”, has also guided the project.

KTH researchers investigated the results with regards to sustainable cultivation. Participating actors were left free to communicate and promote their efforts, sometimes in isolation and other times in collaboration.

Outcome & opportunities

The project established a small-scale underground food cultivation in Högdalen, using and selling its products in local establishments. The entire project in Stockholm and Helsingborg has contributed to employment of 10 people, 2 have gained employment in Högdalen as a result of the project.

Region Stockholm’s Growth and Regional Planning Department has given financial support to Invest Stockholm for investigating whether 10% of Stockholm’s food production could be realised in a similar fashion.

Possible scaling up will first show pilots of the project and promote the philosophy behind urban indoors food cultivation and then evolve into testbeds. Other future plans include the establishment of a local and vibrant co-working space, combining Food Tech and Clean Tech.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Co-creating innovation driven collaboration in itself was deemed a considerable challenge by the organising partners, above all the prospect of creating something previously unexplored. Coordinating the consortium demanded high levels of openness and letting go of prestige. The other main challenges concerned knowledge and acceptance. KTH, SLU (and Swedish research in general) had scarce experience of investigating the concept of urban gardening, although it is a vital part of many international urban regions such as Singapore. Few actors, public or private, allow for or support progressive development of property or estate. The public sector is also not considered a frontrunner for innovation in general, which creates a stepping stone for scaling up the project.

Funding agencies such as Vinnova could support projects further, i.e. by using recommendations from previous technological insights. Public social authorities or researchers are the actors best suited for calculating the socio-economical pros and cons of a project such as Odlande stadsbasarer. It is also highly advised to map international urban systems and urban policies in general to see what is going on in with regards to sustainable innovation without assuming that Stockholm is at the forefront – which is far from always the case.

Engaged partners & stakeholder groups

Invest Stockholm, KTH, Rågsveds folkets hus, Citycon, City of Stockholm, SLU, local residents, local
start-ups, CleanTech Högdalen.

Further reading

Odlande stadsbasarer

Leader

Leader is a method for rural development elaborated in the 1990’s, also useable in urban areas. The leading principle is to make local communities participants in developing their future. A specific area or region can choose to become a Leader area, of which there are currently 48 existing in Sweden. Each area has a central office to which local cross-sectorial development and innovation projects can apply for funding and support. An earlier Leader development project in the Stockholm Region, UROSS (Utveckla Roslagen och Stockholms Skärgård, “Developing the Roslagen Area and the Stockholm Archipelago”) 2007-2013, effectively utilised Leader and confirmed its potential for creating local participatory initiatives and hope for the future.

Challenges

The Stockholm archipelago, with its roughly 30 000 islands (of which about 200 are inhabited), together with the vast rural areas surrounding the city comprise a substantial part of the Stockholm Region. The archipelago alone hosts around 3 million tourists every year. Much of the region’s wildlife, green areas, cultural heritage and nature reserves are located in these areas. Although sparsely populated, with a total of 113 991 stable residents in 2014, of which only 7 348 lived on the islands all year round, the countryside and archipelago together comprise around 5% of the total regional population. However, these areas are generally overlooked while facing major social and ecological sustainability challenges. Tourism has dramatically raised estate prices, especially in the archipelago. Establishing stable internet connections is still a challenge in most areas. The large local fishing business is challenged due to previously  unsustainable draft. Unemployment is relatively low in the archipelago (est. 2,5 % in 2014) but dramatically higher in the inland rural areas (est. 17% in 2011). The access to public services in the Stockholm archipelago is generally considered to be equally remote as in some northern parts of Sweden (Norrbotten).

Out of the 50 Swedish islands regarded as depopulated in 2013, 22 were located in the Stockholm Region.  In conclusion, the residents of the archipelago and rural areas of Stockholm are in need of empowerment in order to strengthen their own local businesses as well as creating feasible and sustainable living conditions.

Leader Stockholmsbygd was initiated in 2014 as a development project and non-profit organisation envisioning “an archipelago and a countryside in which local initiatives, interacting with the surrounding world, develop sustainable and attractive societies, spreading hope for the future.” It was approved in 2016 by the Swedish Board of Agriculture, meaning that Leader Stockholmsbygd was officially one of 48 approved Leader areas.

Good practices & solutions

Priority efforts for Leader Stockholmsbygd are the development of a local community attractive to visitors and inhabitants, promoting local foodstuffs and markets, creating a good environment and increasing sustainability. One aim is to further diversify the local community and its actors through increased collaboration around distribution of local products and services, logistics and marketing. This will also entail increased knowledge exchange and new meeting fora among the actors and with the surrounding world. Finally, a particular goal is to increase local knowledge about ecosystem services and sustainable development in order to strengthen the biological diversity of land and sea in the concerned areas.

The project/non-profit association functions mainly as a central resource of support for locally initiated projects. These projects are able to apply for funding and are supported in this process. Approval of funding depends on a set of criteria as a broader benefit to the leader area, locally-based approach and participation, collaboration with other stakeholders and sectors and last but not least contribution to one of four focus areas (smart villages, tourism, local food production and marine/nature conservation). Once approved, projects can receive investment funding as well as network building support, since Leader Stockholmsbygd has knowledge about potential collaborators. Leader Stockholmsbygd explicitly states a desire to promote cross-sectorial collaboration, diversity and synergies between stakeholders.

In 2014, 13 bygdemöten- meetings with local neighborhoods – were held, in total attracting around 140 participants. Participants included fishing associations, SME associations, neighbourhood associations, environmental activists, sports clubs, womens’ associations, farmers and local branches of Naturskyddsföreningen, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. During each meeting, a SWOT analysis was made to guide the discussions about needs and possibilities for future efforts.

Potential initiatives included increased local food production, tourism development, local investment companies, more rental apartments and recreational activities. Leader professionals are the target group of a particular academic course offered by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), in English “Innovation – coaching innovative processes”.

Outcome & opportunities

The whole area has a rich tradition of voluntary associations, family and small-scale businesses and social entrepreneurs. A certain self-made mentality pervades the area and its people. Instead of public meeting spaces, the civil society offers the most scenes for dialogue and community. Also, being a close neighbour to Sweden’s largest urban centre does provide certain opportunities that can be exploited further. As tourists are already numerous, an increased profiling of locally and organically grown foods could be further marketed to the environmentally aware urban consumers or attract visitors. Further use of digital marketing is considered especially beneficial to these areas, since they lack sufficient infrastructure. Being a more niched, entrenched and accessible project partner to stakeholders, Leader Stockholmsbygd has an advantage over other EU funds.

Lessons learned & recommendations

As the project attempts to grasp a diverse and wide area, the conditions for enabling local initiatives vary significantly. For example, the level of commitment and resourcefulness usually decreases with proximity to urban areas, as responsibility is expected from other actors rather than the local community. Due to budget restraints, LEADER Stockholmsbygd does not have the capacity to create a common platform for the different initiatives to meet and exchange knowledge. Lack of investment for local initiatives is  common. As mentioned in the above section, local investment funds is framed as a general alternative to applying for investment from larger actors. The younger generation is generally considered difficult to engage, partly due to the perceived lack of future possibilities, the main challenge in this regard not being work opportunities per se, but rather the lack of accessible societal services and housing. Involving a sufficiently large number of local actors is key. A well-balanced mix of required expertise is usually present in most areas. Balancing the local and global aspects is particularly difficult. Local residents need a stronger sense of community while achieving stronger bonds with and openness towards the rest of the world. If this is not achieved, matters will not move forward.

Related SDG targets

 

MO-BO: architecture for sustainable mobility

Challenges

Mo-Bo is a project attempting to solve the challenges of juxtaposing sustainably built housing stands with a sustainable transport system, in which fewer vehicles carry more residents and resources are used in a more efficient way. Contemporary architecture – the “Normal” – is considered insufficient to meet the challenges of sustainable mobility and housing as it still puts private car driving at the centre. Thus, for example, parking lots are still highly prioritised in construction and design processes, obstructing ambitions of transitioning to sustainable housing policy and practice. With Mo-Bo, coordinating actor Theory Into Practice wishes to explore and develop a “New Normal” housing concept, expanding resource efficient transport capacity while tending to the needs of residents.

Good practices & solutions

With KTH/SLU and Trivector providing qualitative and quantitative evaluation respectively, the living lab and testbeds will be spaces of experimentation during one year. Among other procedures, travelling habits of residents are measured in intervals, steering documents such as development contracts are developed and tested, and different practical solutions are tested in the housing testbeds, including shared economy models and digital innovations. Spaces and functions are designed according to mobility needs, green value and desired behavioral change among residents. The developed architectural models are then to be spread and scaled up to substantially influence and alter the current housing policy, thus changing “Normal” into “New Normal”. The theoretical framework for this is Transition Management (TM), a structured process of change in which three levels are considered: niche (innovative environment), regime (the status quo of social and technological practice) and landscape (societal values). In order to influence the regime level, TM strengthens the niche through active reflection and joint activity within the project partner constellation. For example, Learning History is used as a reflecting tool. Thus, the operational process is pre-designed on a detailed level, attempting to address the issue from a holistic perspective.

For the KTH researchers, Mo-Bo is less of a challenge compared to previous experiences, in which KTH participants have risked becoming too dominant. In this case, with Theory Into Practice leading the process, researchers have a much more designated and limited role; this means that researchers do not need to focus on enabling co-creation. As designers and architects, Theory Into Practice are considered an experienced actor with regards to co-creating with different sectors and knowledge groups. However, co-creation has not been at the center of focus or a conscious part of the design.

Outcome & opportunities

As municipalities are a central part of the project, issues of policy development are a priority objective. If the tested solutions are to be scaled and normalised, co-operation of public actors are a necessity. If successfully conducted, the project will launch potential innovative business models and opportunities for mobility.

There are several gains from a social-ecological perspective; as parking lots diminish, the soil surrounding the buildings is allowed to be thicker, thus enabling further gardening and cultivation. “You cannot separate [social and ecological] aspects from one another in housing.”

Lessons learned & recommendations

Coordinating the various interests of the actors is key to knitting together the collaborative effort. Researchers have an inherent interest in publishing their work which has to be met along with the interests of Theory Into Practice, whose main objective remains creating generalisable and sustainable solutions.

Applying for research funding proves to be a complicated matter in multi-stakeholder projects such as Mo-Bo; organisations rarely receive full or equal financial coverage, with private companies easier obtaining larger funds as their interests differ. The increasing incentives for researchers to participate in co-creation with other sectors is contradicted by the fact that funding is insufficient. Moreover, working hours are nearly impossible to assess, especially when considering time for developing products or services in innovative processes.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

KTH, LaTERRE, local residents, SLU, Theory Into Practice, Trivector, Upplands Väsby Municipality, Uppsala Municipality, Urbio AB.

Further reading

Theory into Practice

Mo-Bo

Divercity

Process and policy development project for joint building ventures.

Challenges

Current Swedish housing construction is a complex process, usually spanning at least 3-4 years, involving municipalities and a handful of building contractors at the very least but, perhaps more delicate, requiring the participating construction companies to co-finance the process long before the first buildings have been erected. Alternatives to this system are rarely tested, which risks jeopardising the well-needed acceleration in sustainable construction over the next decades for the rapidly growing Stockholm region. Moreover, although housing may indeed be satisfyingly built, procured companies may be less keen to secure a diverse and equal community and functioning local services for the residents. When comparing Sweden with, for example, Germany, where alternatives such as joint building ventures (Swedish: byggemenskap, henceforth JBV) are well prominent, there is a perceived need of experimenting and developing policies concerning housing and construction in order to improve the prerequisites for a just and sustainable city.

JBV is a model in which users – the intended residents of a house or neighbourhood – participate in the planning process as a co-operative society and exercise influence over all or most of the decisions. They are currently rare in Sweden and are also largely unknown to the banks that can fund them. Individual co-operative societies usually lack the sufficient funds and organisational stability to be regarded as reliable project partners from the perspective of Vinnova. Instead, the Society of Joint Building Ventures (Swedish: Föreningen för byggemenskaper) is the coordinating actor of the Divercity project initiated in 2016. The goal of the project is to create leverage for more JBVs in Sweden, using their co-operative societies as testbeds while experimenting with construction process design and construction policy development.

There are several indicators as to why JBVs are worth strengthening. If end users are included from the start, their commitment to the constructed neighbourhood is stronger, promoting a socially sustainable area. Moreover, as end users share the costs of materials and processes, JBVs are more likely to contribute to a resource efficient construction, more lasting materials and thus better potential for sustainable buildings. Furthermore, JBVs potentially constitute an addition to democratic participation in urban development.

Good practices & solutions

“What we seek to achieve requires several actors”

Co-creation between architects, urban planners, joint building venture co-operatives and researchers is a fundamental feature of the process. The project has 18 organisations participating altogether and the various stakeholder groups had hitherto had limited understanding of one another, which demands a conscious process design in order to guide each actor towards a common vision. Several workshops have been conducted to foster a common view of the challenge and the funding application was written collaboratively. There is also a regularly maintained ambition to involve stakeholders – the co-operatives – on the same terms as project partners in the co-creation process, as they are formally asymmetrically involved due to Vinnova’s requirements.

There is, moreover, a generally accepted view among the participants that a process needs to be framed by a particular methodology. In order to facilitate co-creation, the Step Dialogue is used, a process design allowing several spaces for reflection individually and in groups, gradually aiding the participants in becoming more conscious about their common core values guiding the process and their main objectives.

During step 1, a process description was developed, providing an initial overview of what needs to be done in order to realise a construction project with JBVs. The description is partially used as a supporting tool for architects, often unused to working with JBVs, but primarily for the municipalities to better understand their own operational conditions. The description covers core issues for the project, such as regulations excluding JBVs and important steps included in construction processes. It is used as a basis for step 2, in which the JBVs become testbeds for trying out various solutions and evaluating the JBVs’ potential for sustainable urban development, while municipalities are experimenting with policy labs. RISE is responsible for these policy labs as well as evaluating the JBVs and their role in sustainability aspects, whereas researchers from KTH are conducting evaluation research, for example jointly with the City of Stockholm. One notable case is the city’s pilot project Fokus Skärholmen, in which one land assignment is designated for testing a JBV project.

Divercity uses a bottom-up perspective, in which different working packages deliver output to a steering group assigned with the task of developing and spreading jointly created knowledge within the project.

Outcome & opportunities

The main long-term potential for the project, if successfully conducted and scaled, is a systemic change of Swedish housing construction policies, in which end users participate and influence the process on a broader scale than previously known.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The constellation and choice of participating actors is crucial and needs to be consciously thought-through, with particular regard to achieving a satisfying breadth of expertise. Involving the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) gives Divercity a credibility otherwise not gained, member-governed bank Ekobanken provides the financial perspective and Coompanion contribute their expertise on and experience from all forms of co-operative organisations.

Utilising these different knowledges separately needs to work parallel to establishing a common ground between all actors, as well as each part acquiring a driving force on their own as a result of appreciating the common benefits of the project.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

Alsikebolaget, Nils Söderlund Architects, Boverket, Coompanion, Ekobanken, Föreningen för Byggemenskaper, City of Gothenburg, inobi, KTH, City of Malmö, omniplan, Orust kommun, Region Gotland, RISE, Röd arkitektur, City of Stockholm, Theory Into Practice, Uppsala Municipality.

Further reading

Theory into practice 

Smart Kreativ Stad

EU regional development project for film in sustainable urban development

Challenges

The film industry in Stockholm is, in some ways, a neglected business, with most of its performers suffering from short-term contracts and low wages. Moreover, the business of distributing film has changed significantly during the recent 5-10 years, demanding new ways of exploring deployment of film vis-à-vis audiences. Simultaneously, it is a diverse field of production and co-creation, as it needs to accommodate a vast range of talents and knowledges in order to function. Beata Mannheimer from the regional film foundation, Film Capital Stockholm, realised the potential of this creative industry in transforming the urban public spaces when Tillväxtverket announced their funding programme for regional urban development.

Stockholm has the potential of being a more open and inclusive region by using its public spaces. The challenge from which the project Smart Kreativ Started was, thus: How can film be used to promote sustainable urban development?

Good practices & solutions

Prior to the launching of Smart Kreativ Stad, a pre-study was conducted in which actors such as Kista Science City, IBM, game developer Dice and other stakeholders in the film business were approached. The inclusion of knowledge into the subsequent project was managed so that anyone could apply to the board of Smart Kreativ Stad for funding with an idea for a pilot project, whether as an individual artist or as a team. The project has thus been divided into smaller pilot projects during 2-3 years. Finally, a scaling and expansion phase will carry on 5 themes into further implementation, while additionally implementing the project’s outcomes within the organisation of Film Capital Stockholm itself. A participatory researcher has been following the process during the total course of the project.

 Outcome & opportunities

To manage working conditions for film creators, a pool for obtaining work opportunities has been realised during the project. The diverse results and knowledges produced during the project are planned to be spread to a wider audience and implemented in urban development processes, thus potentially contributing to a city with improved leisure and safety levels. A number of meeting forums have emerged between citizens of different areas, but also between different societal actors.

 Lessons learned & recommendations

Breaking perspectives is an important prerequisite for co-creation and collaboration in this type of project. Working in lab formats creates a learning environment for all involved, including the ones leading the process. However, everything cannot and should not be connected all the time; certain processes need to be isolated in order to flourish, depending on participants and specific prerequisites.

Regarding urban planning, Smart Kreativ Stad have identified a lack of “soft” and “human” value methods in current standard procedures. Another interesting realisation is that the movie business harbours an inherently well-prepared workforce regarding participatory dialogue. Documentary movie-makers are well used to these types of processes and therefore pose a great potential for future urban development. The movie business, in general, has substantial experience and potential for co-creation between a relatively vast range of disciplines. However, actors in cultural industries are known to regard themselves as underdogs towards “stronger” actors, such as municipalities and corporations.

Conducting such a complex process entails that communication needs to be shared among several actors, not only the coordinators. Results and progress also need to correspond to actual, established needs, otherwise nothing productive will come out of it. Building trust, in this regard and generally, is a constant challenge; speaking the same language (as in vocabulary and discourse), agreeing on basic values and problem definitions and having shared time schedules are crucial prerequisites. The civil sector can be quite fast in decision-making compared to public organisations, for example, which demands that every actor works in alternative ways to some extent. A valuable concept mentioned during the interview was förväntansavklaring (English: clarification of expectations), describing an essential process of transparent planning in the early stage of the project.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

City of Stockholm, Film Capital Stockholm, individual film creators, KTH, Nacka Municipality, Stena fastigheter, White arkitekter.

Further reading

 

Smart kreativ stad

 

Norra Djurgårdsstaden

Challenges

Developing Norra Djurgårdsstaden (NDS), a completely new urban district for 12 000 residents and workplaces for 35 000 people, has been a significant feature of the last two decades of planning in central Stockholm and, naturally, a huge challenge. It was, however, only half-way through the process that the Stockholm City Council in 2009 decided to profile NDS as an internationally competitive hallmark of sustainability, inspired by the previously successful development of Hammarby Sjöstad. This serves municipal marketing purposes while it promotes sustainable and innovative models of urban planning, construction and development that can be adopted by future projects.

Good practices & solutions

Developing a sustainable city district cannot be done by merely assigning the task to the Development Administration at the municipal administration; close co-operation is needed with other departments, construction, housing and other companies, residents and academia. A particular organisation was built up solely for working with NDS, with thematic groups of experts breaking down the many different project goals into specific sustainability requirements. Co-creation of problem definitions and ideas was also present at an early stage by necessity, as those involved in the long and complex development process had different experiences, knowledge, vocabulary and view of the problem, meaning that they needed to develop common frameworks in order to work together. In 2008, KTH conducted a series of future workshops, gathering experts and stakeholders around issues such as transport and energy, in order to gain a broad understanding of the challenges and possibilities of NDS. The outcome of these workshops implied a way forward for developing NDS. In 2010, a World Class Agreement (Swedish: världsklassavtal) was developed by around 100 different actors – including construction companies – regarding NDS. Again, when revising the NDS sustainability vision and targets in 2017, a similar process was conducted, in which researchers, different city administrations and companies, developers, by then established residents and others were involved in working out future challenges and objectives. Requirements specifications have been emphasised throughout the project. First, sustainability requirements are set at a high level.

Second, from an early stage, assigned developers need to declare their data on a regular basis so that requirements can be carefully followed up. Third, the main incentive for living up to requirements is not, as is usually the case, a fine, but open declaration of achievements in NDS’s annual sustainability reports. Not wholly unexpected, many developers anticipated a failure to meet requirements; thus, developing sustainability competence became a highly emphasised part of the process at an early stage. Forum för hållbara lösningar (Forum for Sustainable Solutions) was initiated in 2012 and has held around 20 events where material industry can meet developers to talk about innovative products and businesses. A capacity development programme is held since 2010 of knowledge sharing between involved actors in construction and sustainable development processes. The capacity development programme particularly demonstrates the progress of NDS, but also generally discusses innovative solutions to building sustainable housing. While many actors initially showed reluctance to participate, it only required for a few to join the competence development process for others to follow and subsequently compete with each other regarding learning about sustainability. The close dialogue with constructors also helped to improve project management’s requirement specifications.

NDS works with 5 overarching strategies, each encompassing the three dimensions
of sustainable development:
1) A vibrant city.
Emphasising the public space as an important area for equality and accessibility for all.
2) Let nature do the work
Harnessing green and blue qualities in improving life quality; for example, laying green rooftops is essential in order to meet requirements.
3) Accessibilty and proximity
Providing proximity to societal services and making fossil fuels as redundant as possible by promoting cycling and pedestrians.
4) Resource efficiency and climate responsibility
Creating smart management systems of energy, waste and engaging in a sharing economy. Moreover, a particular centre for re-use and restoration of used materials
and goods creates new value for artisanry connected to these practices, thus enabling a form of circular knowledge.
5) Participation and consultation

Local collaboration within and between neighbourhoods is emphasised through digital and analogue means. In order to experiment and push boundaries in NDS, R&D projects were welcomed to create innovative solutions with NDS as testbed. All projects were coordinated by the NDS strategic sustainability group, promoting projects in particular areas of interest to form a balanced and diverse portfolio of  outcomes. Projects mainly worked according to triple or quadruple helix models, including C/O City, who developed new tools for assessing green qualities in built environment. 7For the NDS project management, the internal anchoring process of the unusual collaboration forms with construction actors, other cities and research institutesultimately took approximately 3-4 years to accomplish; however, the dialogue that has originated out of this process has become particularly beneficial and probably unprecedented for the City of Stockholm. Moreover, the close dialogue format breeds a higher level of respect and understanding due to mutual learning between actorsand their objectives, as well as an environment of constructive criticism.

No particular method has been utilised to foster co-creation apart from general project management tools; managing the chain of ownership by establishing contact higher up in the municipal management structure, and horizontally between departments, has been key to having the right expertise present at as many meetings and forums as possible.

Outcome & opportunities

NDS is currently the home of 6 000 residents having successively moved in since 2012. NDS won the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Awards in 2015 in the category of sustainable city district, awarded at the UN Paris Climate Conference. Through its high requirements, NDS has implemented a rich variety of sustainable solutions and more are waiting to be implemented. While apartments will be costly, the new land allocation agreement assigns developers to shaping properties in order to maximise accessibility in public spaces to attract a diversity of citizens.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The early stage is crucial for success in terms of co-creating sustainable solutions and knowledge. Aspects in need of particular attention in this regard are: clarifying the objectives and involvement of each actor, working on a strategic level, harnessing leadership, not giving up, have the courage to evaluate regularly, internal anchoring, revising targets, supporting the creative process and a general intuitive feeling. A particular significance is paid to including sustainable goals from the beginning, instead of pasting it onto already existing structures. A challenge hitherto unmanaged in NDS is the continuous documentation and preservation of knowledge generated in the process, in order to ensure that it lives on into other projects.

Further reading

Norra Djurgårdsstaden

The 1,5 billion women challenge

Pedalista is an initiative within the larger programme Women on Wheels, supporting and teaching women to use one of the most sustainable transportation options, the bicycle. The project was founded in 2015 and is currently operating in Sweden and Indonesia. The aim of Pedalista is to improve women’s mobility, increasing their freedom and independence. Hence, the bicycle works as a tool to reach positive social alternative values, especially to people living in poor areas or low-income countries.
Challenges

In many parts of the world, bikes are used almost solely by men due to social conventions saying that women should not bicycle. This is for example the case in Surakarta, Indonesia. A common challenge that Pedalista faces here is the idea that the bicycle should not be used for transportation, but only as a leisure activity for men. As a consequence, places reachable by bicycling are often occupied by men. Generally, men enjoy the perks and freedom attained by biking while women avoid the risks that traffic can bring. Hence, another challenge is undeveloped infrastructure and lack of public transportation. Many streets in Surakarta are forbidden for bicycling since the car is prioritised.

Good practice & solutions

Engagement and communication with the target group (women without access to bicycling) throughout the whole process is fundamental. Using the bicycle to increase empowerment and create societal change at the local level contribute to community development through an approach of increasing inclusion and gender equality. The project is developing a toolbox to be used in other social, cultural and geographical contexts. The toolbox contains methods, approaches and knowledge needed to increase women’s ability to use a bike.

Outcome & opportunities

One outcome from the project is raised community awareness of new ways of transportation. The project has highlighted infrastructural and social barriers preventing women’s mobility and making the women themselves aware of these barriers. An overview of existing barriers is achieved by implementing a gender perspective, something that has been well received by decision makers and local governance in Surakarta. A bicycle is not only a tool to get from point A to point B. It could also provide an opportunity to move out of poverty, create an ability for a safe way to school, implement an independent and healthier lifestyle, favour better integration into society, as well as better access to public spaces.

Lessons learned

Due to social and cultural norms women tend to carry a larger responsibility for household and childcare. This situation has an impact on their travel pattern. Their travel routes and mobility patterns are more complicated than men’s. Women often make several stops when traveling to ensure their caring responsibilities, and they often travel with kids, other family members or goods. By applying a gender perspective to mobility, the bicycle becomes a solution to ease women’s burdens when using the urban public space that meet many of their specific needs. However, bicycling needs to become more accessible to everyone, including men.

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
  • 3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks
  • 5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 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
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 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: © Women on Wheels

The microphone factory/cultural centre

Orchestra Design is an organisation with social entrepreneurs specialised in urban design & city development, based in Paris, France, and St Petersburg, Russia. They work with placemaking as a tool to design good and inclusive public space, capitalising on the human and existing local capital.
Challenges

Tula, with 500 000 inhabitants, is located in central Russia, quite close to Moscow. It is an industrial city, with one of the main industries in sound electronics. A major employer is the world famous Octava microphone factory. The Octava microphones factory, situated in the city centre of Tula, was planned to relocate to the outskirts of the city. The small devices that are put together in the factory require small and delicate fingers, hence, 75% of the work force are older women. However, working conditions were very poor, the environment was polluted, and the factory had difficulties to attract and hire younger women.

Good practices & solutions

What is the best way to attract a new workforce? And could they continue making these small devices in the city centre? The factory makes top class microphones – used by musicians such as U2, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson and Sting. To save the factory from relocating and at the same time improve working conditions for the facctory worker, Orchestra Design and other involved activists wanted to create a creative cluster surrounding the factory, by involving the factory workers. Public facilities, an auditorium and music studios were set up in the nearby buildings. Even a museum telling the history of the machines operating in the neighbouring industry. They opened a school for the workers to attain professional training in engineering and programming. Additionally, they launched an incubator for start-ups in electronics and production, with close links to the factory. The planning of this new cluster influenced the highly needed refurbishment of the factory.

Outcome & opportunities

Out of a microphone factory, a cultural centre of sound and music was set up, presenting new technologies within sound production. As this was developed by the owner of the factory, a large state- owned company, and a private investor, it was a private public-partnership experience, which is relatively new in Russia. It was the idea of linking new start-ups and technologies to traditional, already existing, capacity and infrastructure that appealed to both actors. Additionally, the improved working conditions for the women in the factory, together with the new recreation that facilities in the cultural centre, will hopefully attract a younger workforce. The elderly workforce can then retire, but still recreate in the cultural centre, keeping the generational connection and knowledge transferal intact.

Lessons learned & recommendations

One important lesson learned was to start in one place that is easily influenced, then the neighbouring areas will follow. Additionally, the innovation needs to build on the existing qualities of the space. Local knowledge and competence are key factors. This can become a model for other cities where old industries are meeting similar challenges: “Build on the human capital in the city”and you cannot possibly fail.

Related SDG targets
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 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
  • 8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 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: © Orchestra

Turning main street into a cultural centre

Orchestra Design is an organisation of social entrepreneurs specialised in urban design & city development, based in Paris, France and St Petersburg, Russia. They work with placemaking as a tool to design good and inclusive public space capitalising on the human capital already existing in the locality. One of the largest and first projects they have worked with was the main street in Omsk, Siberia.
Challenges

Omsk is Russia’s seventh largest city with almost 1,2 million inhabitants. It is a major city in Siberia and is traditionally an important transport node with a station on the Trans-Siberian Railway. A large oil company funded a project to refurbish the main street in the city. However, the development plans for the new street did not respond to the needs of population living and working in the surrounding areas. The parking lots, transit roads, and eradication of public space quickly provoked large protests. People primarily protested because of the car based new environment, and instead proclaimed bringing back the traditional structure which was pedestrian-centred and been dominated by a large linear urban park.

Good practices & solutions

The protests were fruitful. The construction company turned to activists for help and the social entrepreneurs at Orchestra Design became involved in the process. Through a public consultation process they brought together stakeholders (house owners, cultural institutions, local associations, the student community). An initial clash between surrounding shop owners and the population had to be overcome. Shop owners, who initially wanted to transform the area into a luxury shopping street, feared that pedestrianisation would scare their customers away. They were won over to the“people’s side”by the argument“low prices attract many, high prices just attract few”. This created consensus of creating a pedestrian oriented concept. For three years, pocket parks were built, new youth activities planned, and the linear park was reconstructed.

Outcome & opportunities

A result of the intervention was that the director of the museum became responsible for culture in the local administration and launched the special programme“cultural street”with weekend street programmes, outdoors public lectures, theatres, and concerts.“The street has become the cultural centre of the city. Before they were concentrated to the shopping malls”. Even during the harsh winter months, the street became the central attraction of the city, and skiing and running marathons are frequently organised there.

This was the city’s first experience of participatory work, and it brought several long-term effects. When external experts let the process become participatory and include locals from many different societal groups, it guaranteed further management and sustainment of the public space. Even the oil company became interested in supporting more citizen initiatives. Together they launched project laboratories for bottom up activities and knowledge sharing. Additional positive side effects include increased safety, cleaner public space, and feelings of ownership from the community. For example, the quote “This was done by local people for local people” written on one of the new walls ended vandalism.

Lessons learned & recommendations

One lesson learned was that girls tended to be more active in the participatory process than boys. However, when the boys saw that the girls were gathering it also attracted the boys. They came to help the girls with creation of their new city centre.“The girls became bosses, boys the workforce”. A recommendation to others is that even small grants from private sector or government is essential to launch activities. Larger support will come when businesses see positive results. Therefore, incubators, tests, and pilots can be a real catalyst.“Just test, if it works, you will get support”. Most important is to understand how knowledge is power and that data and numbers speak for themselves. Providing training for the business community and the city about urban development will easily solve unnecessary conflicts.

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 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
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 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: © Orchestra

Youth redesigning city districts

Ungdomskommissionen (The Youth Commission) was an initiative by Stockholm Municipality to engage youths during their summer holidays, and at the same time get crucial input on the city’s challenges. The municipality hired 14 young people between the ages of 16-19 representing Stockholm’s 14 districts. The work was situated at the City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. The aim was to create ideas and prototypes that would give the municipality a youth perspective on the city’s challenges, helping the development to proceed in a positive direction. The project was documented continuously and in the end of a three-week period they presented their solutions to responsible local politicians, officials and other stakeholders.
Challenges

More than one sixth of Stockholm’s population are children between the ages of 0-15 years and almost 60 % of the population live in the suburbs. These people are often underrepresented in decision-making and the development of the city. Until now, good examples of city planners designing the city targeting youth, and specifically girls, are few.

Good practice & solutions

Together with Methodkit, Global Utmaning arranged a workshop at the City Hall in Stockholm for the youths participating in The Youth Commission and various stakeholders. Hence, the workshop was conducted with a mix of youths and adults professionalized in urban development. First, the participants were briefed about urban planning targeting girls and young women. This was followed by a workshop in which the attendants discussed the questions: How do you experience the city? How do you wish the city would be like? What solutions can be implemented in order to improve the city? With these questions as a framework, they brainstormed randomly about different subjects regarding the city structure. The subjects could for example be; suburbs, health, green areas, street life, or safety and security.

Outcome & opportunities

Together they highlighted many good ideas and practices. It was noticeable that the youths tended to take a wider perspective than the adults, thinking of the city as a whole instead of narrowing their ideas down to a specific area or a specific issue. The adults mostly focused on perceptions and solutions targeting the city centre. The participants were also more engaged with coming up with solutions rather than describing their perception of the city as it is today. The ideas were very reasonable, simple and solution oriented. Most of all, they showed a great interest and willingness to be more included in the city planning and developments of their own area.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Young people are extremely creative, analytic and tend to look at things from a broad perspective. During the workshop they also showed a vast interest to be included in the plans of the city. When adults interpret their voice and trying to recreate what they think youth want, it is significantly less effective than incorporating the young people into the process. This user group sees the city from a broader perspective and has many suggestions and solutions which must be seen as a force to improve the city, and not be treated as a group with a lack of ability to change.

Related SDG targets
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 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
  • 5.c Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels
  • 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
  • 8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 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: Rosanna Färnman/Global Utmaning

Post-conflict urban reconstruction in informal settlements

In some cities in Asia and Africa, as well as parts Latin America, up to 60% of the population live in informal settlements on land that does not belong to them. The Asian Coalition for Housing Rights was founded in 1986 with the main goal to stop evictions from these settlements. Today, the organisation is a cooperation between Asian professionals, NGOs and community organisations committed to find long term solutions to underlying causes of the creation of informal settlements and forced evictions. Many of the projects involve slum- upgrading, creating safe and productive public spaces, stopping evictions and favouring equal rights.
Challenges

In Kabul, 70% of the city’s 5 million inhabitants live in informal settlements. However, as the settlements are considered illegal, they are not formally recognised, and the government refuses to provide services and basic infrastructure facilities. The qualities of the houses are poor and access to clean water or proper toilets are rare. There have been several efforts trying to improve the living condition, but only 10% of Kabul’s informal population is estimated to have been affected.

Good practice and solutions

Together with the Cooperation for Reconstruction Afghanistan (CRA), the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights started to analyse the environment of the informal settlements in order to identify what could be improved. The first step was to survey the settlements to identify shortages and prioritise services and infrastructure solutions. The second step was to plan and implement small upgrading projects. The work involved local actors and CRA took responsibility for training and facilitation while the communities themselves implemented the refurbishment, as well as started savings groups with support from the local authorities.

Outcome and opportunities

The initiative spread to other cities in Afghanistan and different communities in Kabul. Some cities started acting as mentors and teachers to the new cities wanting to implement a similar process. In the past two years, visits and exchanges between communities in the same city – and between cities – have helped to start the building of a network of savings groups. After establishing eight savings groups in Kabul, containing both men and women, they could start to build roads and drains, walls to protect areas from flooding and water supply systems between communities and cities as well as within them.

Lessons learned

A city has many agendas, and the poor population often become a problem and a barrier for achieving its development plans. So, solutions for the poor sometimes needs to come from a grassroot level. Grassroot level initiatives are especially great in joining local forces to be a part of a solution. It is only then a solution will suit everybody. Supporting these kinds of initiatives has the opportunity to transform the way cities engage with its communities, gaining from the citizens’ feeling of being empowered. In order to do this, the locality needs to mobilise, which is especially hard for poor communities with little money to spear. Since, money and information are two things that will help the community to negotiate with the city. When the local communities manage to come together as a group, they are strong!

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 1.5 By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters
  • 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
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
  • 11.c Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials
  • 17.3 Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources
  • 17.16 Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries
Further reading

Photo: Shutterstock.com

The power of information and money

In some cities in Asia and Africa, as well as parts Latin America, up to 60% of the population live in informal settlements on land that does not belong to them. The Asian Coalition for Housing Rights was founded in 1986 with the main goal to stop evictions from these settlements. Today, the organisation is a cooperation between Asian professionals, NGOs and community organisations committed to find long term solutions to underlying causes of the creation of informal settlements and forced evictions. Many of the projects involve slum- upgrading, creating safe and productive public spaces, stopping evictions and favouring equal rights.
Challenges

In Pakistan, many urban problems must be addressed by the communities themselves. As 40% of the national budget goes into servicing the country’s debts, 40% to the mili-tary and 15% is used to run the government, only 5% of the budget is for the country’s physical and social development. In order to transform the situation, communities have to organise themselves. They have to raise money, gather information and share knowledge at a local level, and many local organisations, initiatives and projects have emerged to solve their city’s challenges.

Good practices & solutions

In Karachi, initiatives like the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) have helped poor communities to systematize self- sufficiency so successfully that their work has almost reached national policy. Over 2 million USD were raised, which permitted more than 150,000 households to build toilets, and underground sewers and water supply systems could be provided in the informal settlement. This was achieved through a self-help approach, and public-private partnership with the municipality. The OPP provided technical support and the government connected the community-built sewers to the city’s base sewer system.

Outcome & opportunities

Sometimes local organisations cannot wait for the government to initiate the devel-opment needed in the community. In this case, the locality came together, shared in-formation and experience, came up with a great solution and managed to influence the municipality. This was a grassroot initiative successfully collecting community sav-ings to implement a solution vital for their community. It is clear that money and in-formation are a community’s best assets to implement change.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The most important lesson learned is that unless the locality is an organised community, no single NGO or government will help solve the local challenges. So, a first step is mobilising the community. Additionally, if grassroots initiatives work with the 10% of the most vulnerable in the city, is the urban poor, the work will benefit the whole city.

Related SDG targets’
  • 1.5 By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters
  • 1.6 Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, shopping centre- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 10.1 By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 17.3 Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources
  • 17.16 Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries
  • 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: Shutterstock.com

The 1,5 billion women challenge

Pedalista is an initiative lead by Living Cities, a non-profit corporation that offers a dynamic platform for urban development and innovation globally. Together with citizens, communities, entrepreneurs, and governments they work for inclusive, resilient and living cities to find new ways of managing cities and implementing change. Pedalista is an initiative within the project “Women on Wheels”, which aims to improve women’s mobility and an initiative that seeks creative ways to provide women access to the cheapest and greenest means of transportation; the bicycle.
Challenges

Pedalista is trying to make cycling accessible to more women all over the world. Many cities are not planned for bikes, forcing bicyclists to share the roads with cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes, making the practice of riding a bike unsafe. This is a physical obstacle that the initiative Pedalista is trying to overcome. However, the hesitance for women to use bikes are not only physical. A common understanding is that mobility behaviour is gendered. Men and women often perceive themselves as mobile but through closer analysis there are both physical and social barriers that keep women from accessing the urban public space to the same extent as men. These barriers can only be highlighted if asking and talking to women themselves. If a gender perspective is not included in the planning process of public space, the needs of women are usually overlooked. When asking inhabitants in Botkyrka if they would like to use the bike, 70% answered positively, however only 4% answered that they actually do.

Good practices & solutions

The aim of Pedalista is to increase the number of women that uses a bike in Botkyrka. In this case, the bicycle is used both as a mobility tool, but also to increase women’s empowerment, as well as contribute to community development based on a gender equal and inclusive approach, creating a change at a local level. The majority of the people working on the project are using the bicycle in their every-day life which have created a broader understanding of the problem, since many of them also represent the target group. Engagement and communication with the target group (women that do not have access to biking) throughout the whole process are crucial. Just because something is not being used, does not mean that people do not want it.

Outcome & opportunities

Pedalista is an ongoing project with the aim to develop and complete the creation of a tool box that includes methods for carrying out analysis, as well as finding and implement solutions to making bicycling more accessible to women and marginalized groups. One insight from working with small scale projects on a local level is that the key factors for success are; involving the target group and think outside the box from a traditional mobility planning discipline.

Lessons learned

The women in Botkyrka do not refrain from using bicycles due to of lack of interest, but because of several social barriers preventing them from using it. Even in well-developed urban areas, women do not utilise mobility options to the same extent that men do. Women’s mobility, especially those living in the suburbs, is often ignored if a gender perspective is not included in the transportation planning. This is due to deeply rooted social and cultural norms, as well as gender-based stereotypes where women, even in developed countries, tend to carry a bigger responsibility for the household and child care. This situation has an impact on their travel patterns. The routes are often more complicated, they make several stops at different times during the day and they often travel with kids or goods. Making the bicycle more accessible supports integration and brings social benefits to areas that are more vulnerable since the possibility to access public spaces increases. The bike can also act as a powerful tool for empowerment, freedom and sustainability.

Related SDG targets
  • 5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
  • 5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 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
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding
    public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 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: © Women on wheels

Crowdsourcing public space ideas through Minecraft

Block by Block foundation works with UN-Habitat’s Global Public Space Programme, with the aim to improve the quality of public spaces worldwide. Through Block by Block, UN-Habitat uses Mojang’s computer game Minecraft to involve citizens, especially young people, in of public space design. In connection with Aldea Digital, one of the world’s largest digital inclusion festivals held in Mexico City, Block by block arranged a competition in which youth attendants were asked to redesign the square Plaza Tlaxcoaque.
Challenges

The aim of the competition was to improve this square in three different ways; in its security and safety-perspective, its sociability and in its playfulness. The initiative especially tackles the challenges of power in urban development processes, where the power to change your surroundings often lies in the hands of very few people. It is common that men dominate fields as public planning, leaving little or no place for young women and girls to get involved. After the response from projects, as the one in Mexico City, it becomes obvious that more people want to get involved in the process of creating and improving the urban spaces. Involving youth through Minecraft is a way of amplifying the voices of people that usually go unheard and creating an opportunity for them to express their needs and influence the planning process.

Good practice & solutions

In the Aldea Digital competition, the workshop was supported by student volunteers and gamers from the largest Minecraft community in Latin America, Minecraft Mexico. The Minecraft collective FyreUK, who were also involved in the project, used a Minecraft plugin called PlotMe to set up thousands of identical versions –“plots”– of the square on a public server. The team allocated a plot to each participant, briefed them and gave them three hours to complete the challenge. A public link made it possible to follow the building process live online on the server.

Outcome & opportunities

The result of the workshop was overwhelming with 7429 young people attending, 1438 submitted ideas and 431 completed projects. The ideas were later presented to the Mexico City Labaratoria, Para la Ciudad, as an inspiration for future public space improvements in the city. The urban design ideas included outdoor museums, libraries, roller coasters, boat rides, urban gardens and footbridges. The winning entry were submitted by the 12-year-old girl, Samantha Monroy Sanchez who came up with ideas like petting zoo, roller coaster, urban gardening, a medical centre and outdoor games. Because of the project’s popularity, UN-Habitat hired a person that is managing the server to keep the project going.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The project brings a high level of involvement and engagement from the community and this experience highlighted the power of Minecraft as a visualisation tool, promoting critical thinking and strong interest in urban design. The idea of being able to express yourself in a new way, be listened to and at the same time manage to be creative is very powerful. If people are given an easy tool and just a small introduction to the program, everyone can participate. They come up with good and reasonable suggestions. Working in a free public environment and with a minimal input, everyone can basically become urban designers.

Related SDG targets
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 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
  • 5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 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
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 17.3 Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources
  • 17.16 Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries
  • 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: © Eugenio Gastelum/UN-Habitat

Because I’m a Girl

In the Block by Block initiative, UN-Habitat uses Mojang’s popular computer game Minecraft to involve citizens, especially young people, in the design and creation of public spaces. In cooperation with Plan International’s initiative Because I’m a Girl, a programme tackling negative social norms and attitudes around gender to achieve equality for girls, they started a project based in Kim Chung, in the outskirts of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.
Challenges

Around 500 girls between the ages of 13-16, all from Kim Chung, were invited to play Mine-craft, in order to visualise their ideas of a safer city. Before the girls started playing, they did a walk around the area to identify safety issues in the ambient environment. During the walk, the girls identified a range of dangers in their community. For ex-amples, an unlit dark tunnel, a canal that had no barriers and sewers without any co-vers. When they walked past restaurant they often got confronted by men and boys shouting mean and offensive things.

Good practice & solutions

Analysing the girls’ Minecraft models, their creative designs included simple and cru-cial aspects of a safe environment. Some of the proposals included installing street lights, road signs, bins and fences, free emergency phones, a café for women and girls and shelters for women, girls and homeless people. They also included ideas of mak-ing the public space more enjoyable and beautiful by proposing more flowers, plants, benches, sports fields and tree houses.

Outcome & opportunities

The girls presented their designs to influential people representing different branches of the local government. The city government publicly committed to implement some of the suggestions made by the girls, including installing more street lights and build-ing a fence around a deep canal that runs through the city.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The aim of the project was to develop a methodology that can be used to help girls and young women access the planning process and improve their urban safety. Working together in groups with a computer game made the girls very calm and creative. It created an atmosphere for the girls, who otherwise are rarely listened to, to express themselves in a new way. Hence, Minecraft is a great tool for involving people in ur-ban design processes, especially people with little to no education as it does not in-volve reading text, maps or plans. Additionally, speaking about a city and how it may change to the better is difficult. With Minecraft, everyone can become urban designers with a minimal input and education. Additionally, throughout the project, the confidence among the girls increased. The girls got impressed by their own ability. In the project, they were able to change and make a difference in questions of architecture and urban planning, something they before thought were only for boys and men.

Related SDG targets
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
  • 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
  • 5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 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.
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 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: © Katla Studios/Mojang

Creative cards for participatory decision-making

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

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

Empowering youth through city farming

4H is an international youth organisation with activities in city farming, animal care, sports, cooking and theatre, amongst others. In Sweden the organisation, and the local 4H-clubs, have worked with city farms since the 1970s, with focus on self-sufficient sshopping centre-scale farming. One of the most important goals of the farm are inclusion and that all members are able to participate in farm activities. Stora Skuggan 4H farm is one of the largest cooperations of city farms in Sweden, with a total of 37 4H-farms spread all over the country.
Challenges

The organisation wants to create inclusive meeting spaces and activities where all children and youths are welcome. The vision of the organisation is that all children and youths will develop a strong sense of commitment and responsibility to respect the surrounding environment. There is an extensive need for urban activities that reach children from all areas, including more economically challenged areas. For example, young girls in the suburbs lack affordable spaces to hang out and the organisation give them an opportunity to spend their leisure time in a welcoming environment. The organisation emphasise that their activities offer an important contribution to society, as few spaces and activities for children are both non-performance and non-commercial based. The aim of creating this space in this kind of the setting is to help children with an unstable social background develop a sense of belonging.

 Good practices & solutions

As a volunteer organisation, the local 4H-club at the city farm engages youths in farming, animal care, nature care and ecosystem knowledge. The 4H city-farms are open for all children and youth. Active members range between the age of 6-25 years. The members and visitors of the farms are girls, to a large majority. One method developed within the 4H-farm is called“mini-leaders”. Becoming a Mini-leader is the first part of the farms’ leadership program, where children from the age of 11 begin to help out at in various ways, for example hosting visitors, and train younger members at farm activities. They also work with ecosystem awareness by engaging and informing other children. Another method applied is the“4H recycle visit program”where children in the ages of 4-8 can through actively follow the life cycle off eggs; from hen to egg and from eggshell to compost and from composted soil to growing crops, giving seeds to feed the hen that produces new eggs.

Outcome & opportunities

These two methods are only two of many that has resulted in a warm, including, accepting and welcoming social environment at the 4H-farm. 4H is a safe place for visitors and members, especially for children with socio-economic burdens at home or in school. The inclusive work of the organisation enables unique social contacts between children and youth of different ages. The members feel needed, which is different from only participating in“consuming activities”or performance focused sports. The engagement of children in the 4H farms has had great impact of the children’s life in general, both at home and at school. There are several examples where children with very poor school results and presence in school activities have changed in a positive direction after participating in 4H-farm activities and becoming part of their community-like environments. Children with a difficult or unstable home environment, have also found support in the Mini leaders, as well as the employed staff at the 4H-farms.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Children and youths develop important life skills when needing to take responsibility from a young age. Through the methods used to engage children and youths, personal development is promoted through“learning by doing”. The physical activity and nature experience that 4H city-farms gives, are powerful and important for developing transferable skills to other contexts. The environment in these activities enables the young participants to discover their strengths, both physically and mentally, and learn about healthy life habits. The programmes run by the 4H-farms also give children and youths in urban contexts an opportunity to learn more about, and develop an interest for, agriculture, animal care and environmental issues.

Related SDG targets
  • 3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 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
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • 15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species
Further reading

Photo: © 4H

Women entrepreneurs benefitting entire communities

Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) is a non-profit design and community development organization that partners with under- resourced communities to advance equity and activate the unrealized potential in their neighbourhoods and cities. KDI has been taking experiences from working in informal settlements, or “slums”, in the global south to other vulnerable areas globally, including to middle and high-income countries where high levels of inequality persist.
Challenges

The Eastern CoachellaValley of California is a region with rich tourism and agricultural land that at the same time suffers from extreme income disparity and poverty. The lack of affordable housing has resulted in areas of mobile home parks with poor access to sanitation, water, nutritious food, public transportation and electricity. The lack of access to quality water and sanitations systems and an absence of safe and sheltered public spaces for community gatherings and outdoor recreation as well as extreme weather conditions are among the key challenges for this region.

Good practices & solutions

To address the challenges in the Eastern Coachella Valley, KDI applied a participatory“Productive Public Space” model, developed in Kenya. KDI organised a series of workshops in order to identify the most pressing needs of the community of North Shore and understand how a productive public space could be used to address them. In 2017 construction began of the first, resident-designed and culture- driven public space in the community, a 5-acre park that will host an adult fitness circuit, a football field, a sport-court, a family pavilion, a skate plaza, a playground and a bike repair shop. All physical and programmatic project components were envisioned, designed, and implemented by North Shore residents with facilitation and technical inputs from KDI’s team of architects, engineers, artists, and community organizers, and with counsel and direct support from the Desert Recreation District Department.

Outcome & opportunities

One ripple effect of the project has been the empowerment of women. When talking to the residents, KDI, they found that one of the main challenges for the community was the lack
of possibility to start your own business. This led to the launch of a business training program for a group of women. After being trained in entrepreneurship, the women all started small food based businesses and then went on to form a food co-op where they vend traditional healthy street food at events all around their region, including the world famous Coachella music festival. They are now planning a franchise in the community public space. The boost in income allows them to support themselves and their families. By benefitting women in projects, the positive outcomes ripple down and elevates the community at large.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Creating a sustainable and successful community development project is hard and takes a lot of time. It is important to consider both the economic and social aspects of the project, which demands commitment from all involved parties, but is key in creating a positive impact and ripple effects both in and beyond the original community. The project in North Shore is not only an appreciated public space for the community but serves as a model of community-led change for the whole of Eastern Coachella Valley region replicate. Involving the community in the development of productive public spaces, whether temporary or permanent, creates a sense of care and management as well as creating learning and employment opportunities for the community. It is shown here that this kind of context and human based thinking is transferrable, from Kenya to California and beyond, as long it is adapted and grounded in the particular local context. Participation, listening, questioning and close involvement with the group or community you are trying to partner with should be universal. Being embedded in those communities is key when you work with vulnerable populations. It is possible to develop innovative projects, and a rigorous participatory process is the best way to build on the potential of residents and uncover that innovation.

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 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
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 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
Further reading

Photo: © KDI

Free Lots Angeles

Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) is a non-profit design and community development organization that partners with under- resourced communities to advance equity and activate the unrealized potential in their neighborhoods and cities. KDI has been taking experiences from working in informal settlements in the global south to other vulnerable areas globally, including to middle and high- income countries where high levels of inequality persist.
Challenges

Residents in vulnerable areas in Los Angeles often lack access to many basic services. At the same time the city is struggling with an abundance of city-owned vacant lots. These lots are often located in vulnerable areas but instead of being managed by the city they are fenced off and instead used for illegal activities. In order to face these two challenges KDI started the Free Lots Angeles- coalition.

Good practices & solutions

Free Lots Angeles (FLA) is a coalition of six Los-Angeles-based organisations, with expertise in policy, planning, design, community outreach, arts and cultural production and education. Through meetings with local residents, community organisations, and public officials the vacant lots are identified. A community driven planning process is then put in place, where the residents are involved in identifying the community’s priorities and needs. The FLA collaborative then organises pop-up events to demonstrate a community led vision for how vacant and underutilised spaces can be transformed to meet the need for parks and other spaces within the community.

Outcome & opportunities

The aim of Free Lots Angeles is to allow residents of vulnerable areas to temporarily adopt the cities underutilized assets and create a much-needed space within the community. Using temporary pop-up solution is an affordable and immediate way to meet the needs of the residents, and potentially pave the way for long-term, permanent solution. The coalition is now working to pass a motion in the city to allow residents to directly adopt these vacant lots for 3-, 6- or 12-month increments.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The FLA program is not only beneficial to the local community but also the city at large. It may often cost less than to pay for the ongoing surveillance and trash clean-up of the vacant sites, as well as create positive and visible impact for politicians and residents alike to be proud of.
Involving the community in the development of productive public spaces, whether temporary or permanent, creates a sense of care and management as well as creating learning and employment opportunities for the community. It is shown here that this kind of context and human based thinking is transferrable as long as it is adapted and grounded in the particular local context. Participation, listening, questioning and close involvement with the group or community that is subject to the development should be universal.

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 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
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 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: © KDI

Bridging social gaps by transforming roads into Play Streets

Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) is a non-profit design and community development organization that partners with under- resourced communities to advance equity and activate the unrealized potential in their neighborhoods and cities. KDI has been taking experiences from working in informal settlements in the global south to other vulnerable areas globally, including to middle and high- income countries where high levels of inequality persist.
Challenges

For generations the streets of Los Angeles served as informal play spaces for children. In recent decades cars have increasingly dominated the streets, with little accommodation for other needs such as safe and accessible spaces to play. Meanwhile research has shown that children’s’ play has a key role in their physical health and intellectual and social development. The possibility for everyday spontaneous play becomes particularly important for poorer children who lack access to many sports and recreation facilities.

Good practices & solutions

The largest public space available in Los Angeles is the 7,500 miles street network that links neighbourhoods and communities. The L.A.“Play Streets”Pilot Program helped residents temporarily transform Los Angeles City streets into places for play, learning, and fun for all ages. In 2015 and 2016 KDI hosted seven“play streets demonstration”events in five park-poor, under-resourced neighbourhoods across the city in partnership with the LA Department of Transport. Play streets can only be held for one day but are recurring more often – transforming streets into semi-permanent public spaces and creating new child-centered and child-driven spaces for recreation, learning, exercise, and culture.

Outcome & opportunities

Play Streets enhance community cohesion and improve community safety. They provide mechanisms for improving health and accessing resources. Play streets can also be integrated into permanent street infrastructure by adding play elements to sidewalks, parklets, plazas, or shared streets or permanently closing of a street for cars. In one instance, gang members who saw the play streets happening repeatedly in their neighbourhood, stopped doing graffiti there and by the third event they put out their basketball hoops onto the street for the kids to use.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Involving the community in the development of productive public spaces, whether temporary or permanent, creates a sense of care and management as well as creating learning and employment opportunities for the community. It is shown here that this kind of context and human based thinking is transferrable as long as it is adapted and grounded in the particular local context. Participation, listening, questioning and close involvement with the group or community you are trying to partner with should be universal. Being embedded in those communities is key when you work with vulnerable populations. It is possible to develop innovative projects, and a rigorous participatory process is the best way to build on the potential of residents and uncover that innovation.

Related SDG targets
  • 3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
  • 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
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding
    public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 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: © KDI

Productive public space planning and design for inclusive ownership

Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) is a non-profit design and community development organization that partners with under- resourced communities to advance equity and activate the unrealized potential in their neighbourhoods and cities. KDI have taken experiences from working in informal settlements in the global southand applied it on other vulnerable areas globally, including middle and high-income countries where high levels of inequality persist.

Challenges

Like many cities in Africa, Nairobi faces rapid urbanization and growing inequities between the rich and the poor, which influences the accessibility and inclusivity of public spaces in the city. How people behave in public spaces is also greatly influenced by local traditions and cultural norms, which are reinforced by urban planning strategies. For example,the urban planning practice in Nairobi prioritize vehicular access to public spaces and city services, as well as tendencies of replicating colonial approaches. These practices limit the potential of especially girls, children, and women to participate in public life. As Kenya’s urban centres grow at an unprecedented rate, informal settlements continue to spring up on underutilized government land. As a result, women and girls face specific challenges in places such as Kibera, one of Nairobi’s larges concentrated area of inadequate housing. Here, safe access to sanitary utilities, spaces for education and public recreation are limited. In addition, challenges for women increase during the two seasonal rain periods, as insecurity and the occurrence of gender-based violence is linked to the rains and flooding.

Good practices & solutions

Throughout every stage of KDI’s public space projects, the organisation focuses on engaging the whole community during the whole planning process – from locating and conceptualizing a site
to implementing and managing the project and programs. The first step focuses on capacity building in a way that helps the different community groups collaborate around programmes that benefit the community socially and environmentally while managing the physical space. The next step is design, where focus lies in what type of design that would be most beneficial for the community. The third step is modelling and thinking about how this new development will impact the space. When the urban planning is honest, it widens societal norms. In Kibera, KDI revitalises public spaces to make them accessible for a larger user group. They focus on what in other places might seem basal, e.g. levelling the ground to make it walkable, or create spaces for washing clothes or play with friends. They have created little nooks where most of the population can feel safe.

Outcome & opportunities

Each Kibera Public Space Project faces challenges through acknowledging and utilizing Kibera’s assets in place, e.g. community activism, informal economies and entrepreneurship. Each project has been carried out in cooperation and in coordination with the local community. For example, former trash dumping places have been transformed into local social spaces for meetings and gatherings, for children to play, and for providing improved access to home and work, while strengthening local economies. Similar public space projects have been completed at eight spaces across the Kibera neighbourhood. KDI believes that engaging communities around participatory planning and design is key to sustainable development. Working collaboratively with communities from throughout the whole process, from conception to implementation, enhances technical knowledge and design innovation while connecting residents to available resources and municipal services. When KDI engages the whole community in this way, the special needs of women and girls in public spaces emerge and can be translated into an inclusive place for the whole community.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Involving the community in the development of the Kibera Public Space Project automatically creates a sense of care for the local community, through local ownership and management. During this process, public spaces create opportunities
for learning, employment, and activism for the community. That kind of contextual and human centred thinking is transferrable. The process that was developed in Kibera has now been replicated in other parts of the world, including in the USA.

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 3.6 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 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
  • 10.1 By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average
  • 11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
  • g17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: © KDI