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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

HISS – Hållbart, Innovativt och Strategiskt Styrelsearbete

Having considerable experience of sustainable business development and communication, consultancy firm 2050 initiated a study of how CEOs and private companies integrate sustainable goals into their respective operations and businesses.

Recognising the various challenges of organisational approaches to sustainability, the project harnesses innovation as a means for empowering sustainability managers and organisations as a whole to accelerate sustainable procedures and goals within their respective business models.

In the long term, HISS hopes to develop models for organisational development that are feasible in both the public and private sectors.

Related SDGs
  • 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
  • 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
Further reading

HISS

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

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.

Women empowerment through upcycling

ASTA is a Brazilian network of female artisans and a platform for production and retailing of products produced out of waste. ASTA transform artisans into entrepreneurs, and waste into new products. Their objective is to empower women artisans living in vulnerable areas of Rio de Janeiro. It started with helping artisan groups enhance their products and selling them through ASTA’s own sales channels. After 12 years of operations and many lessons learned, ASTA is focusing on its two main areas of actions: Impact and Business.
Challenge

Women in Brazil still face major inequalities and exclusion from the labour market. Today, women represent a significant part of the social economy, which comprises more than 33,000 businesses throughout the country. However, small-scale artisans face great challenges to the quality and commercialization of their products, hindering their entrepreneurial efforts.

Good practices and solutions

ASTA has developed an innovative capacity building program called the Business School for Artisans, based on the knowledge acquired working with artisans and with the market. The school provides relevant contents regarding business and human capital management, production and sales. ASTA is also focusing on the wholesale market selling corporate gifts for companies produced by the trained artisans base, using the companies discarded materials, operating a circular production cycle.

Outcomes & Opportunities

By providing training to disempowered and marginalized female artist and grant them access to the market by selling their products under the brand of “ASTA” in showrooms and online these women are able to earn an income and develop marked skills. ASTA supports 60 productive groups across 10 states in Brazil, having improved the lives of more than 4.000 women.

Related SDG targets
  • 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.
  • 5.4 Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.
  • 12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse

 

Photo: © Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash

Hagastaden

Challenges

With Stockholm growing rapidly and new housing demanded, largely overlooked and underused areas still exist close to the urban centre. One such area is Haga, in part consisting of a large green area (Hagaparken) and in part the vast Karolinska University Hospital complex including the adjacent health science university of the Karolinska Institute. It is also the border zone between the municipalities of Solna and Stockholm, hitherto mainly used as a highway cluster.

Because the healthcare system and life science fields will face tremendous challenges in future decades due to a rapidly ageing population, with increasing amounts of multiple diagnoses requiring decades of treatment, the needs for further research and innovation on this matter are dire. Stockholm already has a vast cluster of health science research, innovation, and education in this area, pointing to the potentials of further expanding this cluster.

Good Practices & Solutions

The huge Hagastaden development project is guided by “Vision 2025”, seeking to create the largest centre for life science in the world. Most of the 100+ life science enterprises operating in Stockholm would now be located close to, or choose to relocate to, the area of Hagastaden. The project assembles three of the largest universities in Stockholm into a life science cluster with 50 000 workplaces while building mixed forms of housing for 6000 people and developing adjacent parks and green areas. The two main highways running through the area will be built into tunnels to minimise sound pollution. The innovative waste management system is inherited from Hammarby sjöstad.

Several parks and recreation areas already exist nearby, such as the widespread Hagaparken, Bellevueparken, and Karlbergsparken. These will now be connected through Hagastaden and made considerably more accessible. One of the buildings is the first to ever achieve the highest rate of the green building certificate BREEAM, “Outstanding”.The new park of Norra stationsparken will be a slim, long park with considerable proximity to cafés, shops, and restaurants.

Outcome & Opportunities

A new underground station will be built in the centre of Hagastaden, as Stockholm County Council is constructing a new subway line going from Odenplan in west central Stockholm to Arenastaden in Solna, approximately 5 km, planned for 2019–2025. This will promote public transport in favour of less sustainable transport and will further connect diverse city districts and municipalities.

Art, intertwined with architecture and landscape, plays a significant role in the shaping of the new living area. Emanating from the concept of life science and “the cornerstones of life”, the objects and milieus created are meant to reflect Hagastaden’s scientific image. This was made through the 2014–2015 project ArtResLab Hagastaden, in which researchers and artists co-created outlines for Hagastaden by exchanging knowledge about each other’s fields.

Hagastaden has had limited involvement of residents and civil actors in the planning process, the exceptions being certain dialogue meetings and a hackathon with students coordinated by Sweco. Instead, it has focussed on a cross-sectorial collaborative process

Related SDGs
  • 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • 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 . Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • 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
  • 9.5 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
  • 11. 4 Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage
  • 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
  • 11.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
Further reading

Hagastaden

Stockholm Science City 

Stockholm Läns Landsting “Gul linje till Arenastaden”

Stockholm Konst 

#UrbanGirlsMovement

Because urban development has to become more equal, inclusive, and participatory, the think tank Global Utmaning and UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, developed the innovation project #UrbanGirlsMovement (UGM). The project aim was to improve living conditions for girls and young women in rapidly growing, socio-economically vulnerable urban areas through feminist urban planning. The methods developed in #UrbanGirlsMovement were found to especially support implementation of SDG 3, 5, 10, 11 and 17 of the 2030 Agenda.

#UrbanGirlsMovement charts good examples and supplies new methods and suggestions for feminist urban development. The thesis ”build the city for girls, and it will work for everyone” was tested in Fittja, Botkyrka municipality and involved young girls who produced concrete proposals on how Fittja could become more inclusive for everyone. The girls used, among others, the Block by Block method developed by UN-Habitat. Further, the computer game Minecraft was used as a tool for citizen dialogue and co-creation. The methods and computer game proved to be good tools for making urban planning more inclusive.

Challenges

Planning a city by considering the needs of its young female inhabitants is acknowledged as a way of creating a more just and socio-economically equal society that works for everybody. Creating prerequisites for inclusive public spaces, where people of all genders, ages, and socio-economic groups are comfortable in spending much of their time, is crucial for creating an including city without segregation. However, Sweden, much like other countries, is still mainly planning its cities based on the needs of the current middle-aged generation and largely without taking particular needs of women into account, while the importance of gender equality and digitalisation for urban planning are being increasingly highlighted. Even though this insight is shared by authorities in Stockholm, few actors seemed to have the experience or insight to apply it in urban planning processes.

Elin Andersdotter Fabre, responsible for the Sustainable Cities Program of the think tank Global Utmaning, was contacted by some of these actors for advice on the concept of feminist urban planning. This concept has recently made its way into Swedish political discourse, especially with the 2014 election of the centre-left government branding itself as being outspokenly feminist. Realising that knowledge about gender-equal urban planning was yet very much an unexplored area, Elin decided to map good international examples of this phenomenon in order to bring the best practices to Stockholm.

After gaining a sufficient amount of knowledge on the subject, Global Utmaning chose the municipality of Botkyrka south-west of Stockholm as an innovation space for the project since it had an image of being socio-economically underdeveloped and segregated. Global Utmaning and Botkyrka Municipality successfully applied for funding for a public space development project with the objectives of including young girls of Botkyrka as co-creators of innovative solutions to enable an active and secure life within these spaces.

Good practices and solutions

A well-established urban development actor, Global Utmaning had a significant network of experienced organisations and individuals from the start. The expert and reference groups include over 20 actors from all societal sectors and with different expert knowledge. Merging these established actors with insights from the participating and very young users created a unique potential for producing new knowledge on urban planning. One notable synergy effect was the experts’ input about ecological consequences on the suggestions from the users, enabling a more just and green urban development. “It is easier finding experts within all sectors with knowledge about ecological matters than about social matters, so that part is not a concern.”

Rather than hastening to action, the process permitted a long period for investigating and clarifying the needs that actually required urgent addressing. Going through all the relevant SDGs and their challenges and their consequences required considerable time but meant that the remaining work was much more facilitated than it would have been otherwise.

An expert group representing all sectors was involved before the funding had been granted in order to co-create as solid a project as possible: “Co-creation does not start in the planning phase, but rather already during the application for funding.” Co-creation and collaboration across disciplines and sectors is considered essential for creating policy and strategy recommendations with long-term systemic effects.

Outcome and opportunities

The objectives were reached in the form of 3D models of public spaces, used as starting points for architectural layouts. An ”Urban Girls cube” was built during the summer of 2019, where some of the proposals were tested with promising results. The implementation has not been secured yet because the municipality is responsible for initiating construction. This, in turn, is dependent on the success of the planned policy dialogue, which is aimed at both national and local governance as well as other relevant actors. The policy dialogue will significantly inform institutions previously ignorant of the concept of feminist urban planning.

Lessons learned and recommendations

Co-creation does not always guarantee commitment, and asking the right questions to the various engaged partners is also important for securing their continued participation. Such questions include “Which method should we use in order to have a good support of the process?”; “How many hours are we supposed to spend on this?”, etc. Asking these questions makes people feel more participating and committed and less like part of a senior advisory group. In co-creating problem definitions as well as solutions, it is important to let go of prestige while remaining empathetic. Enhancing the voice of those with the least resources, i.e. the participating girls, must also be made a priority in order to make sure that the municipality meets its responsibility in implementing their solutions.

The holistic perspective, in which #UrbanGirlsMovement could be considered a key example, is heavily dependent on the constellation of the particular group working with the project. This is also a regard in which co-creation processes fail unless they manage this challenge. Moreover, having the right people is often more valuable than having the right expertise because commitment is essential to the whole process. This is, as mentioned above, mainly a question of having composed a solid network before co-creation begins.

An extensive inventory of basic needs within urban development projects is of great importance if we are going to reach the 2030 Agenda. #UrbanGirlsMovement has taken a great deal of inspiration from participatory design and planning processes in cities like Nairobi and participatory projects in Kibera, in which the most basic needs such as livelihood or sanitation are emphasised.

Related SGD targets:
  • 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • 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
  • 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
  • 11.6 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
  • 11.7 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
  • 11.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 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
  • 17.6 Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism
  • 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

Urban Girls Catalogue
#UrbanGirlsMovement
Global Utmaning

Institutionalising Equality

The Umeå Municipality has appointed a gender equality strategist, Linda Gustafsson, to operate at all levels, together with economists, analysts and development strategists in the planning office. The gender equality strategist was introduced in 1989 as the first of its kind in Sweden. Her focus is currently on urban planning issue.

Challenges 

Central to the strategists mission, is to analyse power relationships in decision-making process in general and power in relation to public space in particular, when focusing on urban planning issues.

Good practices & solutions

One method in urban planning is “the gendered landscape” where of city districts are analysed from a justice perspective on the basis of different groups’ perceptions and experiences of the space.

Equal opportunities is an important focal point for the municipality. The municipal council provides goals and directives, in the “Strategy for Work on Equal Opportunities”, where equality and an understanding of power is present throughout the planning process. 

The key is to create a greater understanding of structures of power, by focusing on people’s everyday lives, flows in the city, and feelings of entitlement. It is important that the municipality makes its position clear in the production phase, in order to create a city that is not segregated. 

Existing guidelines are central, such as the “Policy for Equal Housing” which states that residential areas should be densified with the type of housing that is not already to be found there.

Outcome & opportunities 
In the upcoming thematic master plan, for complementing central parts of Umeå city, social sustainability will be placed at the top of the agenda: What do different city districts look like? Who lives there and how do they live? What is the state of public spaces, communications and services? How may flows between the various city districts be created to support connections and meetings between people in the city? These questions provide good examples of how these issues are taken seriously and are seen as a central part in the municipal planning.

Lesson learned & opportunities

Applying a gender perspective on the urban planning creates a universal city that meets the needs of a majority of the population, if not the needs of everyone.

Related SDG targets 

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.

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.

Further reading

https://www.umea.se/umeakommun/kommunochpolitik/manskligarattigheter/jamstalldhet.4.118a77010256f6c90180005994.html

 

From citizen dialogue to citizen collaboration

The municipality of Umeå has recognized the importance of citizens dialogue, where a connecting thread in the municipality’s vision is to keep citizen dialogue active.

Challenges

There has been a fire in Umeå which lead to a renovation for more than 400 apartments.  A guarantee was given that the renovation would not lead to higher levels of rents and therefore a need to have a open dialogue with the citizens of Umeå in order to understand what improvements were priority.

Good practices & solutions 

A new strategy for cooperation with the non-profit sector has been developed by the municipality of Umeå. With support from the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning and in collaboration with Umeå University more than 400 apartments have been renovated after a fire, with a major focus on residential influence. In order to achieve maximum sustainability, the municipality financed a PhD position to follow the project. In order to understand what improvements were a priority for the tenants, prototypes of apartment buildings were publicly displayed. It resulted in building modest, non-luxurious apartments in order to keep rents low. Another collaborative project between several actors run by AB Bostaden is “The Ecologist”, a project that enables tenants to see their use of electricity, immediately after use. This system is now installed in 600 buildings. The rent is adjusted according to how much electricity one uses each month.

Outcome & opportunities 

This has enable tenants to raise their voice and be part of planning and development. In addition, Umeå municipality specifically work with vulnerable groups, such as young women, in the planning of the city and of the public space. This makes it possible not only to see who is participating, but also to analyse what different populations view as important. Patterns are created on the basis of these views which are subsequently taken into account in planning.

Lessons learned & recommendations 

By using this citizen-led method of urban planning, creates a feeling of being heard in the community and has a great impact on the citizens approach to the city itself.

Related SDG targets

11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all 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.

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. 

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. 

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

17.14 Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development. 

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

Public- Private- People- Partnerships

In 2012, Penang city was the first local authority to practice and implement a gender responsive participatory budgeting in Malaysia. At the time, the mayor in the municipal council of Seberang Perai in Penang was Mrs Maimunah Mohd Sharif. To solve the municipality’s financial difficulties, she introduced the Public- Private-People- Partnerships (4P’s).
Challenges

In 2012, Seberang Perai municipal council had a low municipal finance. The services offered by the city council and the ongoing project, were not meeting the demands or needs of the citizens or businesses active in the area. This led to a high level of unpaid property taxes and assessments, which in turn resulted in low finances for the municipality.

Good practices & solutions

To solve the financial troubles and regain the citizens’ trust, the municipality implemented two strategies; (1) gender responsible budgeting and (2) the“4 P ́s”. The process started with asking city dwellers to rate the city council and identify areas that needed improvement. In 2012, the city was graded and achieved a satisfactory score of 64%. It was clear that implemented policies and public space solutions were not suitable for everyone residing in the city and something needed to be done. A gender perspective in both the city budgeting and planning was implemented. However, the subject of gender was sensitive, so it was incorporated through the technical term universal design, meaning that the solutions were to benefit everyone. The thesis in practice meant that if it is good for a pregnant lady, it is good for everybody, or if it is good for an old woman, it is good for everybody. The city formed the Penang women development cooperation to look into gender perspectives of existing policies and in this way institutionalise a gender perspective in the governmental policies.

The second strategy the ”4 P’s”,– Public- Private- People-Partnerships. The city had a tremendous amount of public spaces, lighting systems, and streets to maintain and many public facilities to update but lacked the means for doing so. Trying to find a solution to this problem, the mayor turned to private communities in Penang for support. A majority of companies in the area usually focused their corporate social responsibility budget on the city’s community centres for the elderly or orphanages, making it hard for these centres to facilitate the amount of money. Instead the mayor proposed that the private sector take responsibility for one or some of the city’s public parks. The city council formulated a transparent strategy to deal with the cooperation, giving advertising rights to the company or private community but reserving the final say regarding both the advertisement and the design of the park.

All designs were submitted and approved by the full council and then the company or private community implemented them and took care of the public space on a five-year lease. Due to this many public spaces improved tremendously. However, it started without the involvement of the people, which inevitably resulted in many projects not meeting the actual needs of citizens. After reviewing the target projects, the city council added another P to the model, the people.

Outcome & opportunities

The main outcome of the initiatives was the regained confidence and trust in the government, making city actors willing to pay their assessments again. This was only possible through good governance; with competency, accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of doing things. The 4 P ́s create a balance between the different city stakeholders which strengthen all parties. The private sector started to help the city manage and maintain spaces that would not be prioritized otherwise. When preparing the 2018 city budget, after several years of gender responsive participatory budgeting, the city had reached a satisfactory level of 92%.

Lessons learned & recommendations

First of all, it is of primary importance to analyse the challenges vital to the own city. Then, it is time look for the best practices elsewhere. Learn from the best practices globally and then apply them to the local context. This approach creates an integrated, holistic, sustainable development plan of policy, which have the opportunity to address the source of the problem rather than creating solutions ad hoc.

This integrated, holistic, sustainable development plan of policy has to be translated to the local government and translated into an action plan. When creating the locally driven action plan, every sector has to be involved. The strength lies in a combination of a top down and bottom up approaches that creates a convergence of ideas. It is key to not only create a good plan or a good policy but an implementable policy.

Related SDG targets
  • 5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women
  • 5.1.1 Whether or not legal frameworks are in place and girls everywhere
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.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…
  • 16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels 16.b Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public- private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

#Women4Cities interview – Maimunah Mohd Sharif

#Women4Cities

UN-Habitat

Rural Women’s Assembly

Afrikagrupperna is a non-profit, non-party-political and non- religiously-based solidarity organization with a vision of a just world. The organization originated in the solidarity movement in Sweden in the late 1960s. Afrikagrupperna works to strengthen the civil society that is already in place in a south African context. Together with partner organizations in southern Africa, the Afrikagrupperna has worked for over 40 years to ensure that people have access to their rights.
Challenge

The UN has predicted that the world population will increase to around 9.6 billion in 2050, and to a large extent, this will be on the African continent. In Africa, the population will double or more, and according to the prognosis the African population will increase to about 2.4 billion by 2050. When the population increases, the movement and settlement patterns change from rural to increasingly urban. In order to secure an inclusive and equal development, as well as sustainable and long term based, Afrikagrupperna focus on securing the rights of rural women through a feminist point of view.

Good practices & solutions

Since the organization has been established for so long it has gathered a great experience of development cooperation and use well tested methods based in a deeply rooted ideology. However, only recently has the organization adopted a strong feminist strategy. This
in order to secure that the most vulnerable groups, women and children, are prioritized within their development work. Some projects specifically target women and children, but all development cooperation have a feminist perspective throughout. One example is the Rural Women’s Assembly, an initiative that organize rural women within the whole southern African region. The Rural Women’s Assembly is one of the most important ways to reach the groups that will be the future urban citizens.

Outcome & opportunities

If rural women get the possibility to mobilize and work together, they increase their possibilities to secure other many human rights, such as sexual and reproductive health rights. The sexual
and reproductive health rights are threatened globally, that is a setback for all human rights, and it is the first sign of a threat. For women to have the possibility to have larger meetings, to mobilize, to feel secure enough to meet without a threat is a crucial building block for a sustainable society where women are an active part of the community both locally and globally. Involving women is key to reach a sustainable development all over the globe, especially in the fight against climate change, democratic setbacks, human rights and our possibility to decrease poverty and reach food sovereignty within the global south. Mobilizing, offering safe spaces and being able to support grassroot movements are important methods to reach a sustainable development and integrate a feminist perspective within all development cooperation work.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Over the decades, Afrikagrupperna have found the only way to create sustainable development is to listen to those who’s rights are threatened. It should not be top down when it comes to development. The model of core support is one way the organisation work to realise this vision. By supporting local organisations with core funding it becomes possible to actively listen and navigate the landscape of civil society on a local level. In regard to this, Afrikagrupperna has also found that a feminist approach is a valuable tool in strengthening civil society and creating resilience.

Related SDG targets
  • 3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes
  • 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
  • 5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights
  • 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
  • 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
  • 15.6 Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public- private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnership
Further reading

#Women4Cities interview – Louise Lindfors

#Women4Cities

Afrikagrupperna

Pro-poor proactivity

The organization Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) was founded in 1984. They work in India as a part of an alliance with Mahila Milan and NSDF. SPARC works together with Slum Dweller International (SDI) in a Global Network.
Challenges

How do poor people, who are the main subjects of development interventions, become proactive and central to the solution? When SPARC began their work in 1984, they were working with women who lived on the streets of Mumbai facing routine evictions. It was a vicious circle where pavement dwellers were seen as a threat to society and therefor evicted, but because of their social and economic position they had no choice but to remain on the street and face new evictions when their settlement was rebuilt.

Good practices & solutions

SPARC undertook a first enumeration of all the people who lived on the pavements to show the municipality that they were the country’s poorest people. It showed that the dwellers consisted of landless people from rural areas that had come into the city to find work and food for themselves and their children. The reason they lived on the pavements was because their earnings did not cover the cost of public housing.

Over a ten-year period, the organization continued to work with pavement dwellers and continued to collect data about informal settlements as well as work with women’s groups within these communities. The data was then presented to the municipality, the state government, the national government and international agencies. The organization wanted to apply pressure and demand accountability by pressing the central government to take responsibility of finding a solution for people residing in informal settlements. It is because of absenct development investment in the dwellers’home cities and districts that they have come to live on the pavement of Mumbai or in informal settlements.

To incorporate the community women, a house designing competition was held where the winning sketch was later built. This method has been used, in different parts of the country, by community women to build houses. It demonstrates that the people are capable to build houses that meet their needs when they are given the opportunity. The federation work together with the government to finance the building and possible relocation of informal settlements.

Outcome & opportunities

It is now a local government policy to relocate and assign land to evicted slum of pavement dwellers. SPARC continues their work in other parts of the country, using the Mumbai experience as a blueprint. This has become an international precedent. In both India, South Africa and in many other countries, the local SDI federations have formed their own financial and construction company. This blends the money coming in from different actors and helps poor women to take up contracts to build their own houses.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Everyone can use these strategies to help their local authorities to prioritize and invest in the projects that attends the needs of the poor people. It is however crucial to have great local knowledge to be able to approach and involve the informal settlement in the development process as well as in dialogues with local authorities. SPARC stresses that it is of vital importance that urban development needs to be in collaboration between the municipality and the people, as it helps build the much needed trust between the parties. Additionally, for a solution that is sustainable, women need to be at the centre of it.

All the federations within the SDI family, help the neighbourhoods to collect good quality comprehensive data about themselves. The point is to either help aggregate the data at the city level or disaggregate the data to a community or a neighbourhood level, because no city gathers data about informality. This kind of census does not have a classification. So, by poor people gathering data about themselves, they produce quantitative information that forces the municipality to look at these people as requiring acknowledgment. This is a perspective that has been ignored and should be elevated in order to truly commit to, and achieve, the SDGs.

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border 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.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…
  • 16.b Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 17.16 Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge
Further reading

#Women4Cities interview – Sheela Patel

#Women4Cities

SPARC

Slum Dwellers International

Södertörnsmodellen

Södertörnmodel works for a knowledge-driven, co-creation and value-creating urban development.

Challenges

Sweden’s municipalities and regions face the dilemma of building a vast variety of apartments during a short period of time, in order to provide housing for its rapidly increasing population, while simultaneously implementing the UN SDGs in order to sustain long-term viability. Municipalities’ priorities differ when it comes to urban planning, and none of them can guarantee that (e.g.) ecosystems services and fundamental social considerations will be sufficiently applied in daily practice and construction processes.

Södertörnsmodellen emerged out of a mutual understanding concerning these challenges between an already existing umbrella organisation called the Södertörn Municipalities, representatives from KTH, and committed individuals at White architect firm. Together, they decided to initiate a pre-study which also involved technology consultancy firm WSP (who participated during phase 1 and 2). Large company Skanska and public development cooperation organisation SKL International also joined at this first stage. During the last stage of the project, housing company Wallenstam contributed with a more long-term perspective than which is generally provided by constructors. The Gothenburg Regional Municipal Federation and Region Stockholm also entered the project during this phase.

Good practices & solutions

Involving decision-makers at an early stage in a workshop format yielded some fundamental insights that would aid the course of the project. It became obvious to the project participants that ambitions for a more sustainable urban development was not a main issue, nor was mustering ideas on how to reach this; the main issue was that, for a diverse range of reasons, no one actor had attempted a practical process in which such ideas were to be implemented.

However, there exists some practices in which certain actors or groups within organisations try to alter the status quo of public administration. Since existing planning and construction legislation (Swedish: Plan- och bygglagen, PBL) does not allow for rapid sustainable development, other ways of moving matters forward faster have been approached by the municipalities, such as development plans not directly emanating from specifications within PBL (naturally without outright violating the law). A non-hierarchical structure and a self-critical outlook have from the start been important features of Södertörnsmodellen’s internal and external operations. Everyone’s voice is equal, regardless of being a researcher, entrepreneur, municipality or private sector executive. Different idea groups or working groups have been established as centers of reflective discussion regarding the different municipalities’ ongoing work within Södertörnsmodellen. Also, a form of meta-dialogue with residents was conducted in Flemingsberg, Huddinge, in which residents were asked on which issues they felt a need for addressing the municipality. Participatory dialogue in general has been utilized as a productive tool as well as problematised in order to develop its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses. Consultants from White developed a template aimed at the municipalities for being reflective as to why they are conducting participatory dialogue, whether being used in order to, for example, increase public trust or to enhance the planning process; “It feels rather ‘basic’, but there are so many ‘basic’ things that are not working.”

Parallel to this, saving all relevant gained results digitally on a regular basis is considered important for the outcome of the project. Furthermore, a strategy for achieving a more bottom-up perspective has been the walking tours conducted in some of the areas that Södertörnsmodellen work closely with, to which are invited property owners, municipal employees, decision-makers and other stakeholders. One unique aspect of Södertörnsmodellen has been a quite different starting point in relation to ordinary research or innovation; rather than focussing on a topic and pointing towards gaps and needs for new knowledge, the project has targeted the municipal working ground without a prescribed change agenda. Thus, Södertörnsmodellen has identified means for improving many operations already
existing rather than inventing new ones, and generally shaping project operations according to the specific needs in each municipality.

Outcome & opportunities

Södertörnsmodellen has delivered 3 method packages: value-creating, co-creating and knowledge-driven urban development. Together, they utilise the Södertörn Analysis (Swedish: Södertörnsanalysen), a user-friendly, analytical visual tool for providing decision-makers with a deeper knowledge basis for urban development. The tool was developed with help from Hans Rosling’s Gapminder. Variables within the Södertörn Analysis include mapping of ecosystem services and indicators for socio-economic development over time in a given area. 12 insights for a social sustainable urban development has also been generated throughout the project:

1) There is no universal indicator for social sustainability.
2) Increase understanding!
3) Establish concrete and measurable objectives.
4) Identify physical and non-physical measures that will help realise these objectives.
5) Strengthen collaboration across departments, sectors and professions through dialogue for improved results.
6) Assess the social consequences of different considered alternatives in planning processes.
7) Continually follow up on objectives versus outcomes. This requires established measurable variables.
8) Allow citizens to co-develop solutions by creating forums in which they can answer questions of how and why, without creating false expectations.
9) A space is used by others than those living in the area; finding the relevant stakeholders requires considerable mapping.
10) Use participatory dialogue, transparency and communication as tools to create planning value and trust value among citizens. Report on how dialogue has affected end results to achieve and preserve trust between public administration and citizens.
11) Instead of maximising the level of participation, finding the right form of participation throughout different stages of a planning process is more productive.
12) Gather, save and structure the knowledge generated from a participatory process.

The produced methods and knowledge are meant to be open to any public, civil or private actor willing to use it in their ordinary processes. The fundamental idea is to spread these concrete outcomes to other actors and regions, for example the Gothenburg Regional Municipal Federation (who joined Södertörnsmodellen in the later phase).

Lessons learned & recommendations

Many diverse actors and departments in public administration who influence sustainable development factors are seldom coordinated or even lack knowledge about each other’s operations. Public organisations may not have data and knowledge collected in a structured way. Although largely possessing a highly educated and skilled workforce, municipalities generally lack a structure for
improvement work, as the private sector is known to have. Moreover, today’s implementations stem from yesterday’s decisions, sometimes going back several years or even decades. Civil servant procedures may be virtually cemented while policy-makers’ decisions aim for high levels of innovative sustainable development. Involving the citizens has proved a different type of challenge. While there exists an outright will by decision-makers to further involve opinions and knowledge of local residents, the process by which this is done is currently mainly reactive and not proactive. Moreover, not getting back to people on a matter already subject to public participation may result in decreasing levels of trust in the administrative and political system. In this regard, turning existing participatory governance processes into an institutionalised proactive dialogue has been a priority for Södertörnsmodellen. Politicians as a group are particularly hard to influence due to their dependence on votes every 4th year; this reality creates a pressure that risks resulting in dispensing with certain crucial decisions for sustainable urban development, or that politicians are hard to reach in general for actors such as Södertörnsmodellen. Municipalities have been reluctant to admitting entrepreneurs into the co-creation process at an early stage, whereas entrepreneurs on the other hand are eager to enter the process as early as possible. A commonly shared controversy however concerns costs, for example regarding pre-studies; assigning these costs to particular actors is a topic not easily agreed upon.

A fundamental lesson has been to approach people where they are operating, instead of inviting them to a seemingly alien forum. This way, one can assess what is already in place in a given context such as driving spirits, values and commitment. A challenge that has arisen from this starting point is that results have been rather
difficult to backtrack. Many employees within participating municipalities cannot acknowledge the contributions of Södertörnsmodellen to their particular operations, although there clearly exists a connection between those operations and the project’s contributions.

A general insight regarding the transformation process towards sustainability is that it is mainly composed of projects, which poses a substantial challenge. Invididual projects spanning a few years cannot achieve transformation by themselves unless they together contribute to the formation of a greater process. This applies to all forms of societal planning. Of particular interest is the manner in which public employees regard this process, as their respective assigned budgets are tethered to specific plans rather than a process, whereas municipalities need to constantly reevalute themselves and work with their particular improvement process. The interconnection between project and process is thus of tremendous importance to sustainable urban development as well as society in general.

Further reading

Södertörnsmodellen

 

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 

Rinkebyresan: Yalla Projektet & Yalla 2.0

Challenges

Rinkeby is one of Stockholm’s most stigmatised suburbs due to a long-lived legacy and image of unemployment, segregation, violence and crime fastened onto its image. This is as much a long-lived reputation as it is a reality. Unemployment rates are more than double that of the Stockholm average (7,1% in relation to 3%); the average wage is 236 200 SEK per year (the Stockholm average being 363 700 SEK). Furthermore, wages are particularly low for women (the average in Rinkeby-Kista city district being 206 300 SEK), around 57% of the wage of the average Stockholm resident. In 2010, Rinkeby was ranked as having the 4th highest crime report among city districts with low income and education in Sweden, well above the national average (more than 200 reported crimes per 1000 inhabitants, as compared to the national average number of 125).

One of the owners of family-owned housing company ByggVesta, U.S.-born Laurie McDonald Jonsson, became aware of Rinkeby’s socio-economic challenges when planning investments in construction of rental apartments in the area in 2014. This construction process was part of a larger development programme, involving a total of 225 rental units in the area while covering the E18 main road running next to Rinkeby. McDonald Jonsson declared that if ByggVesta was to invest in housing in Rinkeby, merely building and maintaining a stand of apartments was not going to be enough; an investment in social sustainability was likewise necessary.

Good practices & solutions

First, Byggvesta conducted a customer survey to residents in Rinkeby reaching around 1000 respondents and made several additional visits to the area to learn more about the needs and wishes of residents. Following that, ideas for a project aimed at confronting local challenges were brought forward from residents. Finally, during Sweden’s National Holiday in 2014, residents were able to vote for one of several ideas to be realised with the aid of ByggVesta. There was a strong demand for a new niche for local unemployed women – many of whom have children – at becoming more self-dependent. A majority of Rinkeby’s inhabitants have either migrated from or are children of migrants from various countries outside Europe. Ultimately, inspiration was taken from Yalla Trappan in the suburb of Rosengård in Malmö that has similar demographics and socio-economic challenges; the idea was to start a co-operative enterprise of women from Rinkeby cooking and catering food emanating from the countries and food traditions that they have experience from.

ByggVesta hired a project manager and initiated a PPP-style project; funding was granted by Tillväxtverket while Coompanion provided expertise in co-operative social enterprises and project management. Local social entrepreneur Blå Vägen, performing education of local unemployed and helping them reach the job market, also added an extra layer of local knowledge about particular challenges and needs of the target group.

ByggVesta itself had a large network of relevant partners for Yalla Rinkeby from the start, facilitating challenges of gaining funding and proper expertise needed for the task. Using these contacts is seen as essential to the conduction of the programme. Coompanion, itself a co-operatively owned consultance firm, specialises in supporting work-integrating social enterprises (Swedish: ASF). Among their commonly used tools for this is etableringsanalys, establishment analysis or feasibility assessment. A private language educational company provided 4,3 h of Swedish lessons each week to participants in Yalla Rinkeby, since some of the participants did not speak the language. Other activities for long term impact include CV workshops, a Swedish-only policy in the kitchen area, practical education in professional kitchen procedures and catering and education in digital tools. Knowledge on sustainable food production, raw foods and healthy living is also added as part of the education, provided by an employee of ByggVesta with expertise in local small-scale cultivation (Swedish: kolonilotter) at Järvafältet green area.

The food production and marketing proved an easy aspect of Yalla Rinkeby: “The food is selling itself”. Yalla Rinkeby was represented at the local Järva Politikervecka in June (established in 2017), a forum for political, public, private and civil organisations to exchange knowledge and discussions.

Outcome & opportunities Yalla-projektet

A survey aimed at the participants shows that 6 out of 7 goals were met or exceeded expectations. The goal that was not met stated that 30 participants should take part in project activities whereas the outcome was 26.

Statements from participating women show that they experience higher knowledge, empowerment and self esteem with regards to working life. Furthermore, the project has provided them with a sense of community and social capital amongst each other.

Yalla 2.0 started in January 2019 – a Tillväxtverket funded project in order to expand Yalla Rinkeby. The goal is to be able to train 40 women per year. Furthermore, a Yalla Café will be opened in Rinkeby to reach more customers and increase profit for the co-operative. Another stated goal is to further support ecological values by educating actors within Yalla Rinkeby and promoting local cultivation. The idea is that Yalla Café will be a destination café that attracts all Stockholmers. From a PPP perspective, ByggVesta as a housing organisation has been enriched with knowledge of societal sectors and branches that they hitherto did not possess, e.g. further strengthening their expertise in designing spaces and facilities, but also marketing strategies. “In the beginning, this would seem like an odd business for a housing company … [but] now many want to work with us!”.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The Swedish Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) is a key actor for initiatives such as Yalla Rinkeby; however, it was a challenge to recruit participants in the start of the project. A good collaboration with The Swedish Employment Agency is very important in order to secure the long-term business model for projects such as Yalla Rinkeby. Allowing the business model to evolve into a long term sustainable solution needs to take its time. ByggVesta has more than a 100 year perspective for its property and would be happy to see Yalla thrive alongsside that timeline.The dependence on individuals is ever-present in PPPs like Yalla Rinkeby; it is necessary to clarify designated contact persons and their roles at an early stage as well as continuously throughout the process. Commitment is easy to find, consistency less easy; therefore, expectations need to be realistic and clearly expressed, with regards to both partners and participants.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

Rinkebyresan: ByggVesta, local residents.

The Yalla project: ABF, Berlitz, Blå Vägen, ByggVesta, Coompanion, Ericsson, Familjebostäder, Koncept Stockholm, women in Rinkeby. Huddinge, Sollentuna, Solna, Stockholm and Sundbyberg Municipalities.

Yalla 2.0: ByggVesta, ComHem, Coompanion, Electrolux, Stockholms Samordningsförbund, Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan, Swedish Employment Agency, unemployed women, World Chefs. All municipalities in Stockholm County.

Further reading

Yalla Rinkeby

Rinkebyresan

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

DECODE – Community Design for Conflicting Desires

Research project for designing participatory processes in urban development. National platform for applied research. Based at KTH, research conducted in all participating municipalities of which 5 are within the Stockholm Region.

Challenges

Participatory urban planning processes are gaining more and more relevance in municipal decision-making as the Stockholm region grows. With increasing demands for housing projects, the needs of various social groups need to be taken into account so as not to increase segregation. Decode’s mission is to develop mechanisms in participatory processes for balancing power relations and conflicts of interests.

Civil servants and politicians experience ambiguity regarding the ownership of these types of issues. Relations between municipalities are furthermore structured by complex power dimensions, sometimes aggravating attempts at wider collaboration. Meanwhile, most urban development projects are conducted by default standards, without bringing in new perspectives.

Decode was launched in 2012 by Björn Hellström (then at Konstfack College of Arts and Design) together with researchers from various other disciplines, Upplands Väsby municipality, Sweden Green Building Council (SGBC) and Tyréns architect firm. The initial purpose was, based on the above problem formulation, to develop methodologies for facilitating cross-sectorial and cross-disciplinary collaborations in urban development with a particular emphasis on realising social sustainability goals. SGBC became a particularly essential partner during the course of the project due to them already having created Citylab Action, an educational programme for urban development processes. Citylab is a certification tool for sustainable construction, and Decode is the managing part of Citylab’s process management education.

Good practices & solutions

Since its inception, Decode has been driven by two principles: interdisciplinary methodological development and conscious process design. Together, these principles imply a loosening of disciplinary, professional and sectorial affiliation between participants in order to break up “silos”. Emphasis lies less on contributing to particular fields of knowledge and more on designing the process of urban development for increasing social values for the users.

The above founding partners jointly agreed on emphasising qualitative perspectives rather than quantitative in pursuing these principles. There was from an early stage a general agreement among the participating actors on a well-defined fundamental norm from which the project’s work would emanate; this may be difficult to achieve among so many actors, especially concerning a politically incentive issue such as social sustainability, but Decode managed to find the common denominators of the project group. Although working in different fields, the participants share similar outlooks on the issues of urban development. “We have been a few steps ahead”, says Björn Hellström, as a rather large group have had opportunity to work in the same way within the project. Extensive iteration of project work has also been mentioned as an important asset in this process, which, naturally, requires its due time. A well-needed strength of the project was therefore the stable funding received from Vinnova during successive phases.

Five aspects are seen as essential process leading factors in need of a conscious strategy; organising the project, collaborating within the project, participation (i.e. dialogue and consultation with citizens), communication and innovation. Regarding the innovation aspect, the objective is never to create innovation oneself, but to structure environments and conditions enabling innovative solutions to emerge.

Outcome & opportunities

The knowledge produced by researchers within Decode has been directly applied to the certification system of SGBC’s Citylab. This has provided the certification and education processes with fresh insights of which variables and issues to consider in participatory urban planning. As of now, 17 different research initiatives have been launched and are being published as reports, popularised science (e.g. short movies), articles, et cetera. The idea is that current urban development projects should take advantage of the results of Decode.

Moreover, high level decision-making is a prioritised target for Decode’s results. Of the projects within Vinnova’s Challenge-driven Innovation gaining funding for phase 3, all have been working in one way or another with policy development at a high level, and Decode is no exception to this.

Other observable results of Decode include extended and well-needed contact and meetings between different municipalities. A network of inter- and transdisciplinary urban developers has emerged. “We have created a large … spider’s web”, Hellström concludes.

17 different research studies have been initiated. Results of the researchers’ investigations are all incorporated into the CityLab certification system. This means that sustainability research becomes directly applied into city development processes.

Lessons learned & recommendations

“I don’t believe in one method called co-creation … but I think that the methodology could be a form of co-creation, although then it is about using several different methods”

A clear insight is that urban development projects lack general “stop rules”; there is no way to ultimately and definitely solve a social problem, rather, you need to go over them time and time again in order to manage them.

Citylab Action and Sweden Green Building Council in general have been important indicators of the continuous progress; by using the certification system as a way of trying the relevance of Decode’s overall results and its research processes, the project outcomes have likely been rendered more meaningful and societally useful than they otherwise would have. However, the certification system in itself has proven to be a sometimes blunt tool for practical problem-solving in local contexts, being at times far too generalising instead of locally embedded and also insensitive to many of the inherently qualitative issues of social sustainability.

Dependency on individuals has been a clear experience throughout the project. Whenever certain participants have been replaced, it has required a considerable effort bringing the new one in, not only as an employee, but as a committed driving spirit. The driving spirit dependency is particularly obvious within the participating municipalities. If matters turn towards business-as-usual, progress risks faltering.

Various forms of higher education could be positively affected by specialising in the interdisciplinary methods used by Decode, such as design practices and mindsets in urban development processes. It is particularly difficult to manage a coherent design strategy for urban development processes. The complexity of these processes poses severe obstacles for working as a team; Decode has rather preferred to work with a pluralistic perspective and multiple strategies for dealing with the various cases that participants have approached, instead of choosing one single strategic approach.

Engaged partners and stakeholder groups

KTH, Konstfack College of Arts and Design, Stockholm School of Economics, RISE, SWEDESD (Uppsala), Stockholm University, Södertörn University, Gothenburg Research Institute, Stockholm Centre for Public Sector Research.

Tyréns Architect’s Office, Älvstranden Utveckling.

Sweden Green Building Council.

The Public Art Agency Sweden, National Board of Housing, Building and Planning.

8 municipalities: Norrtälje, Järfälla, Täby, Stockholm, Upplands Väsby.

Outside the Stockholm Region: Gothenburg, Sorsele, Uppsala.

Citizens and city districts.

Further reading

Decode

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

The gender equality strategist

Umeå is one of Sweden’s fastest growing cities. The average age of the nearly 123 000 people who live in Umeå is 38 years old. For the city, the rapid urbanisation is seen as an asset and the goal is to reach 200 000 inhabitants before 2050. Umeå was the first Swedish municipality to appoint a gender equality strategist, perhaps even the first city in the world to do so.
Challenges

Many Nordic cities are experiencing growing challenges, such as health and housing. Spatial and social segregation is increasing in many cities and is becoming an alarming problem in larger cities. Ethnic segregation is increasing in pace with the continuous widening of socio- economic gaps, primarily amongst low income groups (unlike high income groups where ethnic segregation is actually declining). There is therefore an urging need of public spaces serving as public meeting places with a potential to bridge social and spatial segregation in society. This puts pressure on planning with reference to prioritising accessible public space.

Good practices & solutions

With this background, Umeå Municipality has appointed a gender equality strategist, to operate at all levels, together with economists, analysts and development strategists in the planning office. Focus is currently on urban planning issues. A central task for the gender equality strategist is to analyse how power relations influence decision- making processes in general and public space in particular. One method the city uses in urban planning to target these questions is called “the gendered landscape”, where transformation of city districts is analysed from a human rights perspective on the basis of different groups’perceptions and experiences of a public place. Central to the work on equal opportunities in the municipality has been the development of the Strategy for Work on Equal Opportunities. The municipal council provides goals and directives, where equality and an improved understanding of power relations create coherence throughout the planning process.

Outcome & opportunities

Placing social sustainability and gender equality at the top of the agenda on a regional level is key to create a city for all on a local level. Following questions are always asked throughout planning processes to make sure that gender and power issues are a central part in the municipal planning: What do different city districts look like? Who lives there? How do they live? What is the status of public spaces, communications and services? How may flows between city districts be created to support connections and meetings between people in the city?

Lessons learned & recommendations

Success factors for Umeå to institutionalise gender equality has particularly been to learn from statistics and evidence-based knowledge and dare to move away from“business as usual”. Another lesson learned that can be duplicated elsewhere is
the ability to see diversity as a strength, build on existing human capital, providing inclusive meeting places and understand how public space can be a tool to realise the‘right to the city’for everyone.

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
  • 1.7 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
  • 5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
  • 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.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
  • 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
  • 11.1 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
  • 11.7 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
  • 11.a Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 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: © Umeå Kommun

Putting feminist urban development at the heart of sustainability

Stockholm Act is a sustainability festival founded by the non-profit organisation Stockholm Coordination Initiative. The festival is gathering people from art, science, politics and business for a week-long festival in order to spread knowledge and include people in the mindset of sustainability. The intention is to deepen and accelerate sustainable development. At the festival a collaboration with Stockholm Act, Global Utmaning and Methodkit was arranged. The event included a brief about feminist urban planning followed by a workshop in which the participants were to discuss their perceptions about Stockholm.

 

Challenges

The power to affect the formation of the city lays in the hands of a few people. Even in well-developed democracies and highly equal societies city planning are not favourable to women. Also, the cities are not being used by girls. From the ages 0-7 the public spaces are being used by both sexes but from the ages 8-19 it stagnates and the public spaces are mostly used by boys and young men. Until now, city planners have not thought of designing the city targeting girls; leaving a blank spot in the area of urban planning.

Good practice & solutions

Together with Methodkit and Stockholm Act, and Global Utmaning a workshop was arranged at the Stockholm Culture Centre. First, the participants were briefed about feminist urban planning and how to target girls and young women. It was followed by a workshop in which the attendants got to discuss the questions: How do you experience the city? How do you wish the city would be? What solutions can be implemented in order to improve the city? With these questions as framework, they brainstormed random about subjects written on the Method cards. The subjects could be for example; suburbs, health, unused areas, public transportation and solidarity.

Outcome & opportunities

It was much easier for the participants to reflect on how they perceive the city than it was to come up with conclusions. In the workshop at Stockholm act, everyone had opinions both on wishes and solutions for the city, and you could see that they really understood the mind-set of feminist urban planning. Compared to the youth workshop a few weeks later, it became clear that younger people are more creative and more clearly register the disadvantages in the society from a less biased point of view. At the same time, they could also see easy solutions preventing these problems. The younger people also saw the city in a broader perspective while the older group mostly focused on perceptions and solutions targeting the city centre.

Lessons learned & recommendations

The workshop showed a huge interest to be included in the plans of the city. In order to be able to affect the planning of the city, you have to see the problems and opportunities. Thinking in groups, and mixing different people, is the most constructive way of working. Sharing experience and inspiration helps coming up with good and reasonable ideas.

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
  • 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
  • 5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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: Global Utmaning

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

Minecraft for youth participation in urban planning and design

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 the design of public spaces. The tool is also being used in reconstruction after natural disasters.
Challenges

Les Cayes, a city located in Southwestern Haiti is host to one of the country’s major ports. It’s originally a well-planned city that experienced a rapid urban growth that in recent years has developed into informal settlements located between the city centre and the sea. Due to soil erosion and lack of basic services the living conditions are unsanitary and citizens suffer from recurrent earthquakes, major floods, and extremely stormy weather conditions. In 2010 a large part of the area was devastated and had still not recovered. Together with the local government and other partners in Les Cayes, UN-Habitat wanted to create an urban waterfront project that could protect the city from flooding and erosion. The project also aimed to provide a public space for the citizens.

Good practice & solutions

While working with two young Minecraft gamers from Sweden, UN-Habitat designed a two-week community participation process. The project begun with a series of community meetings with the intent to recruit 20 participants from the Fort Islet slum. After this was done, there as a three-day community engagement workshop which included both representatives from the Les Cayes local authority, the Governor’s office and other stakeholders in addition to the community participants. First, the participants were given Minecraft training and then they were divided into four groups consisting of older fishermen, teenage girls, older women and younger men. They then began to redesign an area of the Fort Islet waterfront with the Minecraft tool.

Outcome & opportunities

Within a few hours all participants, even those with very limited previous computer knowledge, were able to start visualising their ideas in Minecraft and concrete solutions came forth. For example, the fishermen needed jetties to help them dock their boats, a place in the shade to clean fish as well as streetlights and public toilets. The group of teenage girls proposed walkways, sports facilities, kiosks and restaurants, street lighting and public toilets. At the end of the process, the participants were given the opportunity to present their designs to representatives from the local authority, Governor’s office and UN-Habitat. The Minecraft model of Plage de la Touterelle, designed by the group of teenage girls, was selected as the first area of intervention.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Taking part in these kinds of processes can help build youth confidence, promote critical thinking and improve public speaking skills, important for further civic engagement. People also tend to work much better when they are together in groups as it helps people to identify the collaborative elements. A favourable mix of people in the group adds value to the collaboration but it is important to make sure that everyone in the group feel comfortable to express their opinion and be creative. A difference in societal influence or status can be an obstacle in creating such a group, for instance, older people usually have bigger influence in society compared to young people. A videogame tool, like Minecraft, can be one way of bridging this gap. Most of the time, children and young people have an easier time to understand and to use the tool than older people, putting them in a new position and making the gap smaller. When people are thinking together it creates a dialogue that is rare and can be hard to achieve in other situations.

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
  • 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
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.5 By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number
    of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations
  • 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

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

Building a global forum for public space

The Biennial of Public Space is an international forum for knowledge sharing, capacity building and advocacy for public space guidelines globally. Every two years it gathers urban experts from academia, civil society, private sector, local government and international organisations for the only existing summit entirely dedicated to public space.
Challenges

After the Millennium Development Goals, it was evident that many of the goals that had not been met within the timeframe were related to urban issues, such as sanitation and adequate housing. Therefore, in the negotiations that preceded the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, there was a growing global understanding for the need of a fully urban goal. At the same time, groups of researchers and planners, connected many of the current challenges to the provision and quality of public services and public spaces. However, advocators for a SDG particularly targeting public space would need to come together to highlight the importance of shredding significant global light on the commons in our cities. To do so, the Biennial of Public Space was born.

Good practices & solutions

A milestone for the Biennial of Public Space became the articulation of SDG 11 in the 2030 Agenda, and particularly the formulation of target 11.7: By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities. Further, the adoption of the New Urban Agenda feature the importance of good quality urban public space to ensure sustainable urban planning, design and development. However, global knowledge and guidelines were limited in this new field of international policy development. Building on the earlier work of the Biennale in drafting a global Charter of Public Space, together with UN- Habitat a Public Space Toolkit was developed to support the practice of public space planning, design, development, and management.

Outcome & opportunities

The principles in the charter have proved valuable with particular reference to; the prospect of public spaces to good quality lives of urban dwellers; the improvement of neglected spaces; the value of temporary interventions; and the importance of urban public art. The forum proceeded to produce international key messages and guidelines as support for implementing actors on the potential, provision, development and maintenance of public space that could be applied globally. Some of the key principles highlight that public space cuts across many sectoral issues and is a useful platform to address many development concerns, that public space must be regarded as a basic service just like roads, water and electricity and that master planning should include public space as a key structuring element of the city. It also underlines that in order to provide “universal access for all”to the public space, will require a special focus on marginalized groups.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Together, the various actors and initiatives involved in the Biennial have provided lessons learned and recommendations to others such as: Each project and plan need to be a process, in which different actors, users and stakeholders are promoted to increase ownership, trust and identify qualities; Effective participatory approaches should become common practice in the formulation of planning instruments; To innovate public space interventions, we need to either forget references and norms, or introduce new ones based on the users of the particular space; Learning across national and regional contexts is important for innovation and discovery of new relevant tools and methods; Critical evaluation is important to validate approaches and build evidence such as comparative documentation and academic institutions (often public spaces in themselves) can be powerful agents of change if they engage in community development projects, as they are part of the community.

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
  • 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
  • 11.a Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 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: Elin Andersdotter Fabre, Global Utmaning

Interdisciplinary network for safe public spaces

Säkra platser (Safe places) is an interdisciplinary research network that links local needs, knowledge in situational crime prevention, and relevant national and international experts and institutions. The network is connected to KTH, The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. With support from the National Council of Crime Prevention (BRÅ), a number of initiatives have been created with a focus on information sharing and development of preventive solutions

 

Challenges

Security is an inherent quality of cities. We expect from cities to provide secure places, but also places of vitality, attractiveness and diversity, often a result from a wide range of people coming together, for different purposes. These characteristics of a city is its qualities and are often the reason why more and more people live in urban areas.Yet, the world has witnessed growing threats to the essential nature of cities. Whether it is the ‘old’ threats, such as becoming a victim of crime or ‘newer’ ones such as terrorism, natural catastrophes or other types of harm, the contemporary order demands news ways to cope with and respond to risks and fears in everyday life. A complex and wide range of knowledge supply must be in place to tackle threats in society that disable communities and affect people’s lives.

Good practices & solutions

Much of the new knowledge in situational crime prevention remains limited to universities and research institutes.
A key aim of this network is to engage academics, safety experts, police officers and practitioners of different fields in knowledge creation, exchange and diffusion by providing a one-stop information hub for situational crime prevention in Sweden. KTH provides an outstanding platform for in a methodologically strong research environment with professionals who work interdisciplinary.

Outcome & opportunities

The activities of the network have resulted in a gathered knowledge body around safety. Key messages include: (1) Safety is a human right, to feel free from risk and fear of danger is crucial for all human beings and is a pre-condition for modern societies. (2) A safe environment enables the fulfillment of the most basic individual needs, a safe dwelling and a secure urban environment that allow free movement. Understanding of the situational conditions of crime. (3) crime does not occur in a vacuum. It happens in particular places and times. If the conditions in which crime occurs can be tackled, the overall safety conditions of a place will improve. This requires knowledge that is context-based. (4) Urban and rural environments are not exposed to crime in the same way. New realities demand new methodological challenges. (5) Safety is intersectional. There is a need to investigate intersectional victimization and in poor perceived safety. Knowledge on how, when, and why gender intersects with age, class, and ethnic belonging, which together may result in multiple dimensions of disadvantage, victimization, and poor perceived safety.

Lessons learned & recommendations

KTH provides an platform for in a methodologically strong research environment with professionals who work interdisciplinary. Ensuring safety is not a task for a single discipline or stakeholder. Decreasing crime and improving safety conditions demands knowledge from a wide array of research disciplines: criminology, sociology, psychology but also geography, architecture and planning, statistics, engineering and computer science. Safety depends on the coordinated cooperation of multiple societal stakeholders working towards collaborative frameworks to prevent crime and promote perceived safety. Or, translational criminology – If we want to prevent, reduce and manage crime, we must be able to translate scientific findings into policy and practice. Practitioners in the field describe challenges they face in their jobs every day, but scientists also discover new tools and ideas to overcome these challenges and evaluate their impacts. This process recognizes that successful dissemination of research findings may require multiple strategies.

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
  • 5.2 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.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
  • 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
  • 11.7 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
  • 11.a Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 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: Johannes Wredenmark on Unsplash

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

Flickrum, a norm-creative approach to close the gender gap

White Arkitekter is one of Scandinavia’s leading architectural firms and the third largest in Europe. Their research and expertise encom- pass architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and interior de- sign. They create people-centered architecture, inspiring a sustainable way of life. In 2017, they completed the project Flickrum i det offentliga (translated into Girls’ room in the public) where they worked with young women on how they want to take place in urban public spaces.

 

Challenges

There is an obvious lack of public places for girls in contemporary cities. Norms and social structures shape how people’s needs are prioritized, hence reinforcing inequality. One example of this is the mobility factor as transport priorities and infrastructure are directly sprung from existing gender norms. We are often prioritising roads when planning cities, but when exami- ning statistics on car use, it is a mjority of men that are car owners in Sweden. Also, large parts of public funds are used for activities that are dominates by boys rather than activities that are equally accessible for both boys and girls.

Good practices & solutions

In the project Flickrum, White architects gathered a multidisciplinary team with sustainability specialists, designers, architects, and pedagogues, as well as invited young girls to act as place ex- perts in a reference group. This enabled them to target questions of gender and power with the ones concerned, creating an eye-opener for stakehol- ders within urban planning. They also built models of an actual urban space to explore urban form. However, in conversations with stakeholders about questions of equality, the firm experienced prejudices. Public officials ques- tioned the girls’abilities to express their needs and the relevance of exposing them to the planning practice. The initiators of the project want to show that all are experts in being themselves here and now, and everyone’s subjective experiences of the public space is relevant, regardless of age or gender. Additionally, Flickrum used theatre as a tool to communicate the girls’ expe- riences of city spaces. Using art as a tool is a convenient and efficient way to raise awareness, understanding and empathy on the subject.

Outcome & opportunities

The architecture firm realised when working with the project Flickrum that no major financial investments are required to meet the needs of these girls. They do not demand much, they only wish to be able to be outdoors with friends regardless of weather, they want to sit and talk, as if the public space was their living room. If you live in a small apart- ment far from school, you may not be able to bring home several friends. If you have many siblings and parents at home, you may simply want to get away from home for a while. Compared to the costs of giant arenas, sports halls, and malls, this is not a financial issue at all.

Lessons learned & recommendations

It is essential to work with capable and humble architects, urban planners and decision-makers that dare to listen to the various needs different social groups express. We need a more democratic process with a more heterogenous working-force, so more people are heard. It is crucial to be inclusive from the beginning of every planning process. There are two essential fundaments in building something so complex as a city; knowledge and representation. Every time someone new contribute to the process, the knowledge increases. In this perspecive, co-creation gives a new impression of a site, which has a significantly positive effect. Hence, co-creation is a planning method applicable to every context globally. However, as city planning is market-driven, especially with regards to what can become public places, or rather what remains to be public places, the project economy determines the outcome of a city’s public spaces. If there is to be a change in that area, a strong political is needed.

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Related SDG targets
  • 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
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political in- clusion 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 deci- sion-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: © White Arkitekter

Pin the creep and raise awareness of sexual harassment

Safecity is a platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. The aim is to make data available and useful for individuals, local communities, and local administration to identify factors and behaviours that lead to violence, and work on efficient strategies for solutions. Safecity makes cities safer by promoting equal access to public spaces for everyone, especially women, through the use of crowdsourced data and technology.
Challenges

Many public spaces are occupied by men in India. It is where men loiter and spend time with their friends. Women and girls are rarely seen doing the same. However, we expect a city to be able to provide spaces for all its citizens. A good city has transportation that is safe, clean, affordable, easily available, and provides multiple and flexible options. New Delhi for example, has a great metro system, but it often lacks“the last mile connectivity”which makes women vulnerable to attacks. Safecity believes that“if you want an inclusive city that is safe for women and girls, their needs need to be taken into account. If it’s inclusive for young girls, it’s inclusive for everyone.

”UN Women state that 1 in 3 women face some kind of sexual assault
at least once in their lifetime. Campaigns, such as #metoo, has brought attention to that the problem with sexual harassment might even be much greater than that. In India, a rape occurs approximately every 20 minutes. Yet, most women and girls do not talk about this type abuse due to cultural and social conventions, for example, victim blaming, police fear, and tedious formal procedures. As a consequence, data cannot be gathered, and perpetrators goes unpunished. Breaking the silence and documenting harassment and abuse in public spaces, will help to find the most effective solutions at a neighbourhood level.

Good practices & solutions

On the Safecity website women and witnesses can report cases of sexual harassments and abuse occurring both in private and public spheres. When women are encouraged to report and to break the silence, the organisations can map what has happened where. This information is used to improve interventions and take action against sexual violence. Areas that have emerged as high-risk for women in New Dehli are, for example, stations, station bridges or viaducts, bus stops, along the railway, and markets. What has been identified to decrease sexual harassment in public places are a combination of good lightning, police presence, and a built environment which design is unique in comparison to adjecent areas.

Outcome & opportunities

When women read other people’s stories, it helps them understand what sexual violence is and that it should not be accepted. They also learn about the different types and levels of violence. Nonverbal and verbal harassment are often normalised culturally, which makes women ignore it or blame themselves. The increased solidarity between women creates an immense difference on a social and cultural level. When they hear each other’s stories, they understand that they are not alone.

Lessons learned & recommendations

A city is a living, breathing thing. When the population is changing, the city cannot remain static. City planning need to be more open to listen to people’ issues, needs, demands, and make adjustments. A good city is balanced, where there is space for people for live, work and play in equal measures. A good city is inclusive, meaning for example providing good footpaths and cheap public transportation. Far too many cities lack good footpaths, making it hard to push baby strollers or wheelchairs. A good city has places for everyone to play, not just fields to play football or cricket, that mainly attract boys. A good city has places for women to loiter, to sit down without being stared at or being questioned why they are in a public space.

Safecity believes that it is possible to generalise their methods, because they never go into a neighbourhood with a preconceived notion about the solution. They first examine reported data from the community in focus. Since they have worked across India, Nepal, Cameroon and Kenya the characteristics of the reports differs a lot. For example, in Kenya, incest is often reported, while there is much less public harassment. In Nepal, reports show non-perpetrated violence and child sex abuse, however authorities began to solve the issue of transportation because it is very inadequate to women. This shows the extreme importance of data and to locally adapt working methods to ensure women and girls feel safe.

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
  • 5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
  • 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.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 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.b Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development
  • 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: © SafeCity

Children’s indicators becoming an formal planning tool

World Vision International is an international child-focused organisation, with a federated network of more than 90 countries. The organisation has set a global strategy to advocate and influence the United Nations to refocus the global political discourse on children’s rights across the rural/urban continuum. For the last decade, World Vision launched several learning initiatives, one of them being about child vulnerabilities in diverse urban settings.
Challenges

Once a city is friendly for children, both girls and boys, World Vision believes it is a city friendly for all its citizens. The organisation wants to ensure that children are involved in the planning of the city, hence, that urban development is not only being people-centred but also child-centred. Children are the critical citizens of today that will be the future leaders of tomorrow. The clear message from the children of a sub-district in Surabaya was“the underlying issue is that our voices are not being heard. We need to have our voices heard.”

Good practices & solutions

The organisation established a Centre of Expertise for Urban Programming to become a knowledge asset to internal and external stakeholders. An action research program was launched to pilot projects in six countries, one of them being Indonesia. The pilot projects tested innovative and locally driven urban poverty eradication solutions, such as securing urban land rights, influencing municipal policy implementation, and creating livelihood opportunities – with children and youth leading change in their communities.

Throughout the pilot projects, children were given space to speak their mind, share their opinions and participate actively. As an agency that is focused on children’s well-being, World Vision was committed to create those formal platforms for dialogue with planners, decision-makers, community-based leaders and family members. In Surabaya, they detected that children have good observational skills. Children tend to look for places to play, which is an important activity for them in order to develop important knowledge about their neighbourhood and their city. One of the innovative methods used during the project was to give children cameras to photograph and film their neighbourhoods.

Through visual pictures, the critical social, cultural, political, economic, and physical issues in the neighbourhoods emerged. With this information, World Vision was able to sensitise the families and communities to understand these issues and advocate for change.

Outcome & opportunities

A child friendly city is where every child is formally recognised as agents of change, and formally acknowledged to be able to contribute to the kind of life they want to live. That is why it is so important to include children in formal and informal decision-making. A child friendly city starts with listening to the children. This type of project enables children to have a voice in their own development. The project team was, in close collaboration with the children, able to identify seven indicators of a child-friendly neighbourhood in the local context. The indicators evolved around themes such as children’s health, education, care and protection. These indicators were later on implemented in the official development plans of the city.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Many of the indicators can be applied globally, as they relate to the environmental issues or urban space design. There are for example indicators related to liveability. Liveable cities support access to mobility so that children can move freely, but also social conventions of expressing themselves, talk and disagree. Many planners, due of the way they have been trained, know fairly little about the social aspects of planning. Planning is inherently a technical profession, leaving many social aspects out of the equation. For example, wasted space is a wasted asset for a community of a city, so how can that space become a living environment? A key lesson learnt is the need to strengthen existing partnerships with multiple stakeholders and partners, such as civil society, universities and local government. Collaborative efforts support sharing of knowledge, resources and efforts to replicate and scale up locally tested solutions.

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
  • 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.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
  • 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: ardiwebs / Shutterstock.com

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

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

“Plan a city for girls, and it will work for everyone” global movement

#UrbanGirlsMovement is an initiative by the independent Swedish think tank Global Utmaning, mapping good examples, stories, and lessons learned from multi-stakeholders globally. It highlights ongoing initiatives, implementing the SDGs at the local level. In collaboration with a range of multi-stakeholders, the purpose is to highlight global pro-poor urban development initiatives targeting girls and young women in low-income areas in rapidly urbanizing cities, as well as to develop methods for local and urban development that can be applicable globally. In the long-run #UrbanGirlsMovement aims to contribute to improving the living conditions for girls and young women in vulnerable urban areas through highlighting participatory design and public space planning; promoting public health, sanitation, access to education and employment, and security.

 

Challenges

#UrbanGirlsMovement  was initiated with the  belief that “if we plan a  city for girls, it will work for everyone”. Three quarters of the world’s poorest people live in lower middle-income countries, often without social security or adequate living conditions. Poverty and vulnerability is increasing within many countries as a result of unequal distribution of resources and opportunities, oppression and social exclusion, particularly affects girls and young women. As the world is predominantly urban, poverty is also becoming an increasingly urban phenomenon. More than 1 billion people live in low-income informal settlements, and inequalities are increasing the fastest in cities.

In order to fulfil the SDGs, the interlinkages and integrated nature of the goals and targets are crucial. In the first global mapping of good examples, the main challenges raised by young women globally were; the lack of safe places, gender-based violence, access to education, sex education, adult interactions and role models, and environmental risks. Therefore, addressing specifically SDG 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, SDG 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and SDG 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable in an integrated manner is the most  effective tool to tackle the challenges and reach the 2030 Agenda.

 

Good practices & solutions

All projects included in the global mapping of good examples and lessons learned focus on improving the living conditions for girls and young women in low-income areas in rapidly urbanizing cities, through participatory design and public space planning. Girls and young women are key stakeholders, hence we have  gained unique insights into some of the specific challenges they face, and how inextricably linked girl’s’ development are to a range of development issues.

 

The participatory design and public space planning highlight the target groups’ needs and establishes priorities in the planning of physical spaces, social and economic programs. The activities empower girls and young women by  improving their living conditions through targeted interventions related to public health, sanitation, education, employment and security. They demonstrate how participatory design and public space planning is crucial as steppingstones for youth to improve their chances of a fruitful life, and at the same time addressing several SDGs.

 

Outcome & opportunities

Prioritising girls and young women in low-income areas in rapidly urbanizing cities is not only  vital for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, but also other global agendas. The project has successfully mapped global good examples that make a difference; empowering girls and young women and improving their lives, with the purpose for  others to learn, be inspired, and  to scale up the work in another context. In line with implementing the 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda, the project has directly or indirectly shown the local application of particularly SDG 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 16 and 17.

 

The initiative also contributes to the development of  new methods for local urban development and planning that promote safe and productive public spaces, and that can be applicable in a  Swedish low-income areas, and as well as informal urban settlements globally. The ultimate goal  is to propose new urban development methods for feminist urban planning to local municipal leaders and actors that serve the local implementation of the SDGs. This provides an opportunity for #UrbanGirlsMovement to provide policy recommendations to the Swedish Government on how to  turn a ‘Feminist Foreign Policy’ into practice and to identify new priorities for Swedish development cooperation, targeting girls and young women in vulnerable urban areas.

Lessons learned & recommendations

By mapping the local work of our partnering organisations, we have managed to strengthen our belief  “ plan a city for girls, it will work for everyone”. A city for everyone is  sustainable city, where both girls and boys can thrive and develop. But to get there we need to include everyone in the process. Many initiatives do not particularly target girls and young women, but it has been noticed they tend to, in a greater extent than men, take advantage of the opportunities provided. Women also often tend to carefully safeguard the longevity of the project or infrastructure put in place.

 

So, how should a city be planned in order to benefit the most vulnerable populations? Finding solutions that have a positive impact on making cities more inclusive and equal should be a top priority. To summarise, a city is  balanced when there is space for all people to live, work, and play in equal measure. Public space that do meet up to the needs of girls and young women are characterised by:

 

  • Good footpaths and public mobility – the pure ability to push a baby stroller or wheelchair, or walk without looking down to watch your steps. It also provide connectivity to important sites in a city. The mobility issue is a direct issue sprung from norms. A majority of the population does not own a car, but a majority of the public space is taken up by roads, where cars occupy the majority of the space. We need to widen sidewalks and make roads into walkable streets.
  • Places for women, children, and elderly to loiter – benches faced towards each other to make it possible to talk to one another. Experience from informal settlements is that if there are no benches women in skirts or dresses (which corresponds to the majority) will not sit down, neither stay standing but just quickly pass through. But as squatting is common among men, automatically the city will become more accessible to them.
  • Good lightning – makes a place less threatening during the dark hours of the day, for everyone. A city where women cannot access the city at all hours of the day is not an equal city.
  • Visibility and presence of authorities – contribute to the conception of safety. The feeling that everyone can see all the activities carried out in a public place have the potential of leading to a feeling of safety. It encourage positive activity and behaviour. A lively place therefore often becomes a safer place.
  • Open access – semi-public or or semi-private spaces such as parks with fees, museums or restaurant terrasses. Places that are not open access for free, systematically exclude the poorer part of the population.
  • Design – human scale well-adapted design and urban form. It will automatically become an attractive meeting place. A place that is beautiful and differ in design from the majority of the city is less likely to get vandalized and will help strengthening the conception of safety.
  • Flexibility – one element must meet several purposes and functions. It attracts different audiences, at different times of the day. A staircase is a good example, it can be a place to walk, to sit, a meeting place, a training venue, a playground, a stage for performances. The more flexible elements, the more sustainable place.
  • Well working water and sanitation – women are more vulnerable than men when there is insufficient or a lack of toilets and sanitation facilities. In informal settlements the community often share toilets. These, as well as public toilets in high-income areas must be well lit, clean and secure.

 

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
  • 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
  • 3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents 
  • 3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes 
  • 3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all 
  • 3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination 
  • 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 
  • 5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere 
  • 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 
  • 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 
  • 8.4 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
  • 8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training 
  • 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 
  • 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 
  • 11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums 
  • 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 
  • 11.5 By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations
  • 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 
  • 11.a Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning 
  • 11.c Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels
  • 16.9 By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration
  • 17.3 Mobilize additional financial resources for developing countries from multiple sources
  • 17.7 Promote the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed 
  • 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 
  • 17.18 By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts 

 

Further reading