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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.

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

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

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

Turning main street into a cultural centre

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

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: © Orchestra

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Lots Angeles

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

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: © KDI

Productive public space planning and design for inclusive ownership

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

Challenges

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 3.6 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 10.1 By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average
  • 11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
  • g17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: © KDI