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Förnyelselabbet

Förnyelselabbet was founded with a mission to work with user-driven innovation in order to meet complex social challenges, shaping methods and processes for this in working first on the reception of new arrivals in Sweden in autumn 2015 and onwards.

Good practices & Solutions

Operations include mapping of user needs and inclusion of stakeholders according to context. Users provide a substantial part of the background to problem formulations and analysis. The lab as a concept is valued highly because it allows for small-scale experimentation in multi- stakeholder innovation. Förnyelselabbet has furthermore established various smaller lab contexts of user interaction in several municipalities in and outside the Stockholm region in order to enhance the capacity of local stakeholders for working with social sustainability.

Related SDGs

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

11.  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

Förnyelselabbet 

Viable Cities

Viable Cities (VC) is a strategic innovation programme co-funded by several large agencies and hosted by KTH. The aim is to support research and innovation for smart sustainable cities, emphasising its role as a catalyst for collaborative efforts between different sectors in Swedish society. It also fosters commitment and participation from citizens and urban dwellers through urban development and digitalisation.

Sustainable innovative solutions are developed by VC within the following four focus areas:

  • Lifestyle & consumption
  • Planning & built environment
  • Mobility & accessibility
  • Integrated infrastructure

These developments are supported through the following five themes:

  • Testbeds & living labs
  • Innovation & entrepreneurship
  • Funding & business operations
  • Governance
  • Intelligence, cyber safety & ethics.

The programme today hosts some 50 participating organisations from all sectors. VC’s incentives are both local, national, and international, and its successful solutions and models are meant for large-scale implementation and export.

Related SDG
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 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

Viable Cities

eGOVLAB

eGovlab is a part of the Computer and Systems Sciences at Stockholm University. eGovlab is a place forging the future of inclusive governance – not just in theory but also in practice. They apply unconventional research frameworks and methods to visualise the impact of ICT on government transformation towards inclusion, transparency, efficiency and change management.
Good Practice & Solutions

As a testbed and an open innovation platform, eGovlab focuses on developing governance processes through digital and participatory approaches. It has thus developed a six-step methodology for co-creation and open innovation with stakeholders. eGovlab is part of about 20 different Interreg and other international or EU projects within the core themes of anticipatory and adaptive governance, public service redesign, and smart & sustainable communities.

Related SDGs
  • 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. A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 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
Further reading

eGovLab

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

WWF

WWF is the world’s leading independent conservation organization active in nearly 100 countries on six continents. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by:

  • conserving the world’s biological diversity
  • ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable
  • promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption

Due to our wide reaching geographic and thematic approach to conservation, WWFs work is anchored in all three pillars of the sustainable development triangle: environmental, social and economic, enabling us to contribute to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG 11 and 13: WWF is committed to increasing political leadership, public engagement and entrepreneurship to transform cities. Our aim is to support the creation and development of One Planet Cities around the globe – cities that enable all people to thrive and prosper while respecting the ecological limits of our one and only planet. 

WWF created the One Planet City Challenge  to highlight some of the world’s most ambitious and inspiring cities, and their innovative solutions to combating climate change and building resilience locally. Through this Challenge WWF aims to facilitate the sharing and replication of sustainable solutions in cities across the globe.


For more information about WWF, click here.

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

Photo: Chait Goli

Glokala Sverige

Background
Glokala Sverige is a collaborative project funded by Sweden’s government agency for development cooperation (Sida). Together, the United Nations Association in Sweden, Swedish Association for Local Authorities and Regions, and International Centre for Local Democracy cooperate in enhancing knowledge as well as commitment in Swedish municipalities and regions for Agenda 2030 and the Global Goals. Presently, 181 out of 310 Swedish municipalities have chosen to participate.

Agenda 2030 Awareness Raising
Glokala Sverige emphasizes the holistic character of the Agenda 2030 and the Global Goals. They aim at inspiring their target groups to consider working with all Global Goals in a systematic way. Glokala Sverige’s strategy is to support Swedish municipalities and regions in implementing Agenda 2030. Therefore, they carry out a customized training for each municipality and region in the project – on location when possible, otherwise digitally. Regional meetings are held with municipalities in the area in question, for exchange and sharing of knowledge, ideas and experience. The conference Mötesplats Agenda 2030 is launched each autumn, for participants of the project as well as authorities, researchers and partners. Educational and inspirational material such as films, workshop toolkits and e-learnings are accessible on their website.

 


For more information about Glokala Sverige, click here.

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

Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD)

Background
ICLD’s mission is to support democratic participation and change at the local level. With its focus on local democracy, local self-governance and decentralisation, ICLD strengthens local governments’ capacity to analyse, prioritise and implement Agenda 2030 in accordance with their own needs, priorities and resources. The unique combination of practice and theory is a major asset of ICLD. They work closely with Swedish Municipalities and Regions to address challenges in regards to the SDGs. ICLD provides funds and resources to implement SDG:s in partnership with a LDC Municipality with similar strains.

Here is one of ICLD’s ongoing municipal partnership between Växjö municipality in Sweden and An Giang province in Vietnam:

Learnings from Växjö-An Giang water development exchange project
Since 2010, An Giang province in Vietnam and Växjö municipality in Sweden have implemented several partnership projects on environmental issues. A few years back, they became aware of the mutual challenge that surface water is in abundance in both cities, yet is partially of lacking quality. A new project was therefore conceived where the partners would improve their capacity for sustainable water management, while invigorating their democratic processes to better include stakeholders in their planning. Municipal water and sanitation management is seldom top of mind in connection to democratic issues. However, these areas have a large impact on inhabitants every-day life, and therefore the democratic structures for inclusion and participation of inhabitants are important in these issues. The ICLD-funded project allowed for the water and sanitation officials in Växjö’s technical department to reflect on their own democratic processes in relation to their inhabitants.

The three-year project runs until 2021 and aims to, among other things, prepare an integrated water management plan for Long Xuyen-city in An Giang province. So far, the partners have held workshops with key-stakeholders and visited each other for education and field trips related to challenges facing the municipalities. Lectures on capacity building for public consultations with local residents have been held. Some participants have in addition taken part in workshops and case-challenges during an ICLD-training on the municipal partnership programme.

Växjö municipality in Sweden and An Giang province in Vietnam have inspired each other to new solutions through a partnership concerning water management. Their cooperation has led to improvements in the democratic processes and made staff in the water management departments reflect on how they contribute to local democracy. Already, the inspiration from An Giang has contributed to Växjö deciding to develop their own integrated water management plan. Through their partnership, Växjö and An Giang have already shown how processes for an inclusive democracy are important and how it relates to technical issues such as water and sanitation. The project has also shown how municipalities which stand far apart in specific technical solutions can learn from, and be inspired by, each other’s approaches on how to face a challenge, in order to generate mutual benefits in a municipal partnership. 

When working on technical issues, we seldom evaluate ourselves based on how we perform on issues such as participation and inclusion of citizens. But through ICLD, we have got to reflect on what our own democratic contribution in the municipality looks like. How are citizens included in the decision-making process, is the information we send out available to everyone and is our work transparent to the public? By raising those questions we can improve how we do things, says Ingrid Palmblad Örlander, coordinator and engineer at Växjö municipality.


For more information about An Giang and Växjö project, click here.

For more information about ICLD, click here.

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

LightSwitch

About LightSwitch
LightSwitch are specialists in designing, leading and facilitating knowledge sharing and innovation processes to tackle complex sustainability challenges. They have developed a unique approach combining knowledge sharing and innovation to scale solutions to new contexts, which has been successfully applied both in the framework of global partnerships between countries on clean energy as well as in climate-related projects at municipal level in Sweden. SDG 17 and particularly target 17.6 ‘Knowledge sharing and cooperation for access to science, technology and innovation’, lies at the very heart of LightSwitch’s mission.

LightSwitch’s relation to localizing SDGs
LightSwitch is dedicated to catalysing planet-positive impact at all levels – from international policy development to concrete action at local level – through actionable knowledge sharing, co-creation and innovation. LightSwitch’s collaborative learning method is flexible and can be used to capitalise on existing knowledge and co-create new solutions suitable for implementation in virtually any context. It focuses on learning and capacity building for the participating individuals and organizations and takes into account key aspects related to leading change efforts for sustainability.

SDG 17.6 underpins LightSwitch’s efforts to deliver planet-positive impact. Since their knowledge sharing and innovation projects are primarily focused on accelerating the transition to a renewable energy system and other key areas of climate action their efforts also address the development of SDG 7.a ‘Promote access to research, technology in clean energy’ and 13.3 ‘Build knowledge and capacity to meet climate change’ on a local level. LightSwitch works extensively with municipalities on various sustainability-related themes and contributes therefore also to SDG 11 ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’.

Municipality ‘Climate Leadership Programme’ in Sweden
Engaged by Fossil Free Sweden, LightSwitch has designed, led and facilitated a deep-dive collaborative learning process between six Swedish municipalities (Helsingborg, Umeå, Uppsala, Växjö, Örebro and Östersund) especially selected as pioneers in regard to public procurement as an instrument for climate action. The process supported the municipalities to identify and share knowledge and experiences with each other on both challenges and successful procurement methods and approaches. The process initiated Fossil Free Sweden’s Climate Leadership Programme on public procurement, which aims to find ways to radically reduce Swedish municipalities’ climate emissions through new innovative ways of using the public procurement instrument.

One of the most important tools for Swedish municipalities to significantly reduce climate emissions is through their public procurement of goods and services. Fossil Free Sweden set up the Climate Leadership Program to support municipalities to set tougher climate requirements in public procurement and to work in tandem with the businesses and sectors who have committed to becoming fossil free in Fossil Free Sweden’s sector roadmaps.

LightSwitch designed and facilitated a deep-dive learning and co-creation process, based on logic of the LightSwitch method, consisting of four full-day workshops and three interlinked home assignments. The method includes both elements of knowledge sharing and co-creation of new ideas, and is designed to enable the participants to take concrete action in terms of implementation of learnings in their respective organizations.

At the conclusion of the collaborative learning project the participating municipalities had developed and received constructive feedback on draft action plans to develop methods and approaches to move towards fossil free public procurement. The action plans were based on the learnings and new ideas developed during the process and were all customised to the unique contexts of each participating municipality.

LightSwitch’s relation to SDG targets
LightSwitch’s work relates to SDG targets:

17.6 – Knowledge sharing and cooperation for access to science, technology and innovation

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

13.3 – Build knowledge and capacity to meet climate change

12.7 – Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities

11.6 – Reduce the environmental impacts of cities


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

Nordregio

About Nordregio
Nordregio is a leading Nordic research centre for sustainable regional development and planning, established by the Nordic Council of Ministers. They conduct applied research and Nordic-European knowledge exchange for policymakers and practitioners. Nordregio’s primary focus areas are: Sustainable rural development and aging population; Urban planning for green inclusive cities; Regional innovation, resilience and green transition; and Multi-level governance (regional reforms and strategies).

Webinar Series on Local SDG Implementation in the Nordics
In 2018/19, Nordregio published a report mapping Nordic frontrunners in SDG work at the local level and hosted a Nordic knowledge exchange on how to organize the Agenda 2030 work in regional and municipal authorities. As a follow-up, they just arranged a webinar series with six programmes on local implementation of certain SDGs (climate, digitalization/innovation, gender/inclusion, sustainable consumption and production, sustainable cities, plus monitoring and evaluation). Nordic municipalities and regions were invited to share and discuss good practice examples, solutions and remaining challenges in their work. The seminar series is available on Nordregio’s YouTube channel and was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.


For more information about Nordregio, click here.

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

Donate NYC Partnership

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

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

Good practices and solutions

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

Outcomes & Opportunities

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

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

 

Photo: © Mike Rasching/Unsplash

Co-creating community engagement

Mindspace is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 that focuses on urban revitalization in areas such as social innovation, smart city concepts and knowledge management. Currently, the main project is Rákóczi Square Market Hall’s (Rákóczi téri Vásárcsarnok) revival in the eighth district of Budapest.
Challenges

Budapest’s eight district has a history of prostitution and crime, which nowadays is less of an issue but still affects the areas bad reputation. However, the eighth district is still struggling with poverty, negative gentrification consequences and challenges due to disintegrated and ethnically diverse community. The Rákóczi Square Market Hall has encountered many problems among which are vacant business premises, uncompetitive prices and products, and, consequently, a decreasing number of customers; but it’s still the heart of the district and a great place for starting the neighbourhood’s (and the market’s) revitalization.

Good practices and solutions

The bottom-up practices that have guided the work of Mindspace have been targeted at local community engagement and building their involvement and trust. All the activities offered are free and open to everyone. Many locals and newcomers get the opportunity to socialize, educate them self and relax at the many creative workshops, acoustic concerts, community breakfast etc. The project is a dynamic and experimental experience that aims to create interpersonal connections. One motivational factor is the revitalization and reintegration of the neighbourhood which sparks a great enthusiasm in the local community resulting in a lot of volunteer help and input from local businesses as well as citizens. Mindspace has become a bridge between the public and the market operator, creating a platform for co-operation. Business establishments and buildings surrounding the marketplace that was previously empty, are now occupied thanks to the successful initiative. The local community has become more open to the idea of change and now turns to Mindspace for tips. Some of the activities of the revitalization process include community eating and get together in the market hall, a festival that brings together locals, friends, urban experts and artist, a pop-up co-working space and concerts in vacant shops.

Outcomes & Opportunities

One lesson learnt is that the community wants a slow, continuous, persistent effort that is spread out over time. Also, for a sustainable revitalization that covers the needs of the local community, it is important to consider the local, social, cultural and historical characteristics – it is of utmost importance to get to know the local people, and from there help them change by providing a fun experience.

Related SDG targets
  • 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.
  • 17. 17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.

 

Photo: © Humphrey Muleba/Unsplash

5-fractions coalition

Poland is developing a roadmap for the transition to a circular economy, the CLE Map. The document identifies, in particular, measures to increase the efficiency of resource use and reduce waste generation. The roadmap is an instruction manual for the subsequent stages of introducing a circular economy in Poland. It is also a strategic document to guide a responsible and sustainable development. The purpose of the roadmap is to interlink all stages of the waste life cycle. It is an attempt to approach the topic of the circular economy very broadly, as to focus on all elements of the product life cycle including the acquisition of raw materials, processing, eco-design, sustainable consumption, and waste management.
One interesting example of a project that has been developed out of the CLE map is the 5-fractions coalition, an initiative by stakeholders in Partnership for the realization of SDGs, coordinated by the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology. The first system solution for increasing the percentage of separate waste collection in Poland.
Challenge

The growing amount of municipal waste in Poland largely comes from different kinds of packaging, a lack of clear labels and symbols for consumers on how to sort packaging waste makes it difficult to recycle correctly.

Good practices and solutions

The 5-factions coalition is an intersectoral initiative based on several companies and institutions that together have acknowledged a huge gap in the field of education and tools needed to achieve the environmental goals in Poland. Their goal is to disseminate knowledge and practice in the field of waste sorting, recovery, and recycling among consumers. In order to do so, the coalition has developed an infographic system to ease the task of sorting waste. They rely on a coherent and uniform system of pictograms that entrepreneurs and local governments can use to mark their products by waste type, thus simplifying the task of sorting the waste by consumers and waste managers.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The 5-factions coalition has prepared pictograms for packaging manufacturers to place on packaging products for local governments and companies to place on their waste containers. All actors involved in recycling, packaging recovery or environmental education can join the joint educational projects of the 5-factions coalition, promoting the labeling and proper waste separation.

Related SDG targets
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
  • 12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.
  • 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.

 

Photo: © Joshua Fuller/Unsplash

Circwaste

Circwaste is a cooperation and capacity-building project funded in large parts by the EU LIFE programme and is coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute. Geographically focused on the Southwest Finland, Satakunta, Central Finland, North Karelia region and South Karelia region, the project gathers a selection of 20 cross-sectorial stakeholders and 10 funders to jointly promote and develop efficient use of material flows, waste prevention and new waste and resource management concepts. All actions of the project contribute to implementing the national waste management plan and directing Finland towards a circular economy. The project stands out as an example of a regional catalyst and support platform for local projects focused on improving resource efficiency through circular economy solutions.
Challenges

The Circwaste project responds to the challenge of regionalising national sustainability strategies by building multi-stakeholder partnerships with the capacity to implement national regulations on a regional and local level. In addition, the underlying challenge that the Circwaste project focuses on is developing solutions, best practices and recommendations on how partnerships of regional stakeholders can develop more resource efficient systems, not only to meet the targets of the national waste management plan, but also to support sustainable development, locally, regionally and nationally.

Good practices and solutions

Acting as a circular economy platform for knowledge-exchange and capacity-building, the Circwaste project has proven a successful catalyst supporting the regional implementation of the Finnish national waste management plan. Key to the success of the project has been its regional focus.In each region, the relevant regional stakeholders have formed cooperation groups that work to implement the national plan at a regional level. The groups create roadmaps that set goals and activities necessary to decrease the amounts of waste, improve material efficiency, utilize industrial by-products, etc.42 In addition, Circwaste is also carrying out concrete pilot projects in key areas to develop the waste management system and to promote circular economy, as well as establishing an expert network on circular economy to provide expert services and spread information on successful solutions to relevant stakeholders outside of the project. A number of projects and initiatives, linked to Circwaste, has already been successfully implemented and some are highlighted as best practices in this report. These include:

• Production of biogas and fertilizer from biowaste streams and wastewater sludge at the LABIO Ltd biogas and composting plant (Best Practice 14)

• Waste sorting system enabling more effective material recycling at the Päijät-Häme Waste Management company.

Outcomes & Opportunities

The Circwaste project emphasizes the need to develop regional roadmaps that set out the needs, opportunities and ways forward for the implementation of the national waste management plan. Creating regionalised and context-specific roadmaps is an important step to identify relevant stakeholders, build essential partnerships and find innovative solutions supporting the development of more circular and resource efficiency systems. With this method of work, the Circwaste project estimates that they will have: 1) decreased the amounts of municipal solid waste; 2) increased the recycling of construction and demolition waste; 3) improved material efficiency and waste prevention in production, industry and trade; 4) increased the use of mineral waste and industrial by-products.

Related SDG targets
  • 7.1 By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.
  • 9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.
  • 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.

Deposit Return System

In 2016, the government of Lithuania implemented a “deposit return system” for disposable beverage packaging as an attempt to combat litter and increase the collection- and recycling rates of used drinking bottles. Consumers would pay a deposit amount of €0.10 when purchasing eligible drink containers, to be refunded when the empty container is returned for recycling. This system is not unique to Lithuania, similar deposit-return systems are present in most European countries. However, the system implemented in Lithuania has proven the most successful of the EU member states with 74 percent of plastic packaging recycled, according to a Eurostat study. The number can be compared to the second best country, Cyprus, where 64 percent and to the average within the EU of 42,4 percent of plastic packaging are recycled.
Challenges

The national DRS has successfully tasked both producers and consumers to take responsibility for the recycling of their products. It is estimated that through the DRS, 21.000 tons of packaging per year is recycled instead of ending up in dumpsites or the environment.

Good practices and solutions

One of the key reasons behind the recycling success in Lithuania has been the nationwide roll out of a national Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS), with easy-to-use reverse vending machines where consumers can deposit used plastic bottles and receive a cash-back of €0.10 per bottle.

Producers and importers that supply alcoholic and alcohol-free beverages in disposable glass, plastic or metal containers with a capacity of more than 100 ml, but below three l, are obligated to participate in the deposit system for disposable beverage packaging. Individuals who buy beverages in metal, glass and plastic containers marked with the deposit symbol pay the deposit at the point of sale and can collect a refund after delivering the packaging to a DRS machine. There are now over 1,000 DRS machines at large retail chains across the country and more than 1,800 small shops are also accepting the plastic containers. The performance of this system, i.e. the container return rate, reached about 70 percent in the first year of operation and more than 90 percent in the second year of operation.

The public institution Užstato Sistemos Administratorius manages the entire deposit system, starting with the collection of the packaging waste and ending with it being recycled. The process can also be tracked in real-time, at the time of writing this report, 1,649,489,610 packages have been recycled through the system.

Outcomes & Opportunities

By the end of 2016, 99.8 percent of the Lithuanian public were aware of the deposit system, with 89 percent having used it at least once. 58 percent of consumers reported recycling more and 78 percent believed the deposit system to be good and necessary. Prior to the scheme, only one-third of all beverage containers in Lithuania were returned. The goal of a 55 percent return rate in 2016 was exceeded to 74.3 percent of all beverage containers returned for recycling. The return rate reached a huge 91.9 percent by the end of 2017.

Related SDG targets
  • 9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities
  • 12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
  • 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.

 

Photo: © Giuseppe Famiani/Unsplash

Circular Economy Partnership

The transition towards a more circular economy brings great opportunities for Europe and its citizens. It is an important part of our efforts to modernise and transform the European economy, moving in a more sustainable direction. There is a strong business case behind it which enables companies to make substantial economic gain and become more competitive. It delivers important energy savings and environmental benefits. It creates local jobs and opportunities for social integration. Cities will play an essential part in the transmission of the economy.
Challenges

The Partnership on Circular Economy has identified several barriers and bottlenecks regarding the use of secondary raw materials (recycling) or products (re-use) originating from waste streams. In the Partnership, this has been presented from a public procurement perspective, a consumer perspective, a waste management perspective, as well as a business enabler perspective. Besides a lack of awareness for existing sources of funding and financing for circular economy investments and the conditions for accessing and/or blending them, cities and funding institutions often lack knowledge on how to assess, design and set up funding programmes and/or schemes for circular economy projects.

Good practices and solutions

Kaunas city is an active partner in the Urban Agenda for the EU Circular Economy Partnership. Cities play an essential role in the development of a circular economy; they act as enablers of potential measures by which they can influence both consumers and businesses. In order to develop the concept of a circular economy within cities there are other themes that can not be overlooked, such as; overall governance, enabling businesses, public procurement, consumption and resource management.

Outcomes and opportunities

By establishing a practical roadmap, cities are enabled to develop an urban resource management plan. In this roadmap, the three main elements of resource management will be incorporated; a) mapping of resources and resource flows, b) brokerage facilities to bridge the gap between supply and demand; and c) the monitoring of results. Supporting businesses and local authorities to identify their waste or by-products, diverting them away from the waste streams and using them as secondary resources for new products, will contribute to a more efficient resource management that is economically sound in terms of value creation. This may help speed up a city’s transition to a circular economy in terms of resource efficiency, lowering environmental impact, and creating new economic activity and jobs. The Partnership has identified that an urban resource management plan could be an important tool to achieve this.

Related SDG targets
  • 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.
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.

 

Photo: © Jonas Jacobsson/Unsplash

 

Partnerships for urban industrial symbiosis

Urban Baltic Industrial Symbiosis (UBIS) is a regional cooperation project financed by the European Regional Investment Fund, Interreg South Baltic. The project focuses on developing pilot cases of industrial symbiosis, learning about the industrial symbiosis concept and spreading knowledge in order to inspire new symbiosis sites in the South Baltic region.
Industrial symbiosis is the mutually beneficial exchange of waste and by-products between different parties. Based on ecological mutualism and nutrient flows within an ecosystem, industrial symbiosis requires collaboration between different stakeholders within a relatively small geographic proximity. Developing capacity and finding opportunities to develop cross-sectoral and public-private industrial symbiosis is an opportunity for both private and public companies to increase their profitability and competitiveness by reducing the cost of resources, while at the same time being substantially more environment-friendly by reducing the use of material and production of waste. As such, industrial symbiosis is a business model and method based on circular material flows and circular economy.
Skåne Energy Agency, a regional energy agency in the south of Sweden, and a department within the non-profit organisation Skåne Association of Local Authorities, is the lead partner of the UBIS project. Together with ten partners in five countries (Poland, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany and Sweden) the project developed tools and recommendations by learning from existing industrial symbiosis plants, project members that already have knowledge and experiences of industrial symbiosis, and from five pilot investments that are carried out as part of the project.
Challenge

Trust, knowledge and procedures of cooperation are some challenges that have to be overcome when developing business models for industrial symbiosis that are both a profitable and resource efficient means of creating more circular economic flows. Trust concerns the fear of being too dependent on the resources of other actors in the symbiosis. There is a lack of knowledge on many levels, about the industrial symbiosis itself, the opportunities it presents and about legal implications. Procedures of cooperation refer to the need for building long-term relations, transparency and information sharing between the actors involved in the symbiosis, something that is often missing.

Good practices and solutions

The project is a good example of how to combine the experiences of already established industrial symbiosis sites and production systems, and how to use those to develop guidelines, recommendations and methods in order to support a greater expansion of circular economy through industrial symbiosis practices . It is also a good example of building cross-sectoral and regional partnerships to support the practical expansion and utilization of circular economy.

The UBIS project works directly with five pilot investments that serve as the testing ground for the project. These are:

• The City of Malmö, Sweden: The objective for the city of Malmö in the UBIS project is to develop a soft pilot planning tool. The aim is to map the industrial symbiosis streams, such as heat and cold, various materials in Malmö harbour for example, and digitalise into a GIS-layer. This will be a helpful tool in identifying opportunities and marketing the possibilities with industrial symbiosis.

• Kalundborg Utility, Denmark: Kalundborg Utility will complement the services already available to the industrial symbiosis in Kalundborg. This expansion includes the possibility to supply cost-effective surface water for production with an all-year-round constant temperature.

• Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland: The major task of the Gdańsk University of Technology will be to identify groups of enterprises suited for collaboration within an industrial symbiosis system in the Pomeranian region in Poland. A particulate task will be waste energy sharing among companies. For this purpose, a Spinning Fluids Reactor-based mobile system is proposed for low temperature heat recovery from various types of power generators.

• The municipality of Bjuv, Sweden: “Urban Health” by industrial symbiosis involves identification and analysis, city planning and implementation. By using the residual heat from local industries, the municipality can create new, healthy, and social environments for people in urban areas.

• The municipality of Silute, Lithuania: Silute will develop municipal waste storage by installing new infrastructure for collection of waste so that it can be recycled and get a second life as new raw material

Outcomes & Opportunities

Where the project stands at the moment, it has developed a series of publications with methods and recommendations on how to overcome some of the challenges involved in expanding and developing new sites for industrial symbiosis in the BSR. The project has developed:

• An Evaluation Tool to evaluate the potential for industrial symbiosis in a specific site.

• A Decision Tool to help stakeholder find opportunities and make sustainable decisions.

• A Business Model to help stakeholder find profitability and sustainability through industrial symbiosis solutions.

Related SDG targets:
  • 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.
  • 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.

 

Photo: © Mårten Björk/Unsplash

 

Circular Economy Road Map

In 2016, the Finnish government and launched a national roadmap to a circular economy – Leading the cycle: Finnish road map to a circular economy 2016-2025 under the leadership of SITRA, The Finnish Innovation Fund. This made Finland the first country in to world to present such a roadmap. It describes detailed actions that can accelerate the transformation of Finland into a competitive circular economy. The roadmap highlights best practices and pilot examples that can easily be replicated and provides added value on a national scale.15 The roadmap provides an outline for the transition, whilst the Päijät-Häme Circular Economy roadmap, a joint regional Circular Economy strategy covering nine municipalities, illustrates aims and actions at the regional level. The regional roadmap was launched in October 2017 as part of Päijät-Häme’s regional economic strategy for 2018–2021. The drafting process was coordinated by Lahti University of Applied Sciences, in close cooperation with the regional council and local stakeholders, such as regional and municipal authorities, academia, a regional development corporation, as well as public and private companies. 
Challenges

The roadmap is an attempt to solve the challenge of getting both public and private stakeholders from different sectors to develop a joint and holistic vision for the long-term regional development that is both sustainable and mutually beneficial.

Good practices and solutions

The roadmap is a good example of how regions can take local action for sustainability and develop context-specific needs and opportunity assessments, and integrate them into their general development strategy. Additionally, the co-creation process of developing the roadmap is also a good example of how to build recognition and acceptance for the actions outlined in the roadmap. The process allows regional stakeholders to define a common vision, regional aims and detailed action plans. This was made possible through workshops, discussions, and requesting comments from additional stakeholders through a survey and direct emails. Since input was gathered from across the region and provided by stakeholders from many different sectors, it created a foundation for successful implementation. The roadmap is also a living document; annually updated to involve new actors and opportunities. In currently includes five main themes, each with regional goals and actions. The overarching themes are:

• Closed loops of technical streams to create added value
• Sustainable business from bio-circular economy
• Towards energy self-sufficiency by sustainable transport and energy solutions
• Shared economy generates new consumption models and business opportunities
• Piloting and demonstrating innovative circular economy solutions

Outcomes & opportunities

The active involvement of local authorities and regional stakeholders have been key to the successful strategy process in Päijät-Häme. the circular economy roadmap has become part of the Päijät-Häme strategic regional plan and regional development programme 2018–2021, which is a measure of success.

Related SDG targets
  • 7.A By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology.
  • 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.
  • 17.14 Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development.

 

Photo: © Joel Fulgencio / Unsplash

 

#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

Digital Demo

Challenges

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

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

Good practices & Solutions

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

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

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

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

Outcome & Opportunities

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

Lessons learned & Recommendations

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

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

Barkaby

Challenges

Barkarby is subject to the currently largest on-going urban development process in northern Europe. The area will receive a new subway connection by 2025, thus requiring large-scale efforts in construction and sustainable solutions. The plan for sustainable development in Barkarbystaden III is described in a “quality programme” co-produced using participatory dialogue and knowledge exchange within Citylab Action and between the municipality, several private actors, and external experts.

Good Practice & Solutions

The establishment of a collaborative innovation platform for sustainable urban development located in Järfälla was decided in March 2017 as part of the development process. Enabling innovation is a means to realise and strengthen the objectives of each focus area within the quality programme. Researchers will co-create with private and public actors to test sustainable urban development solutions, with particular regards to mobility and smart energy; one particular example is a testbed for autonomous vehicles. The idea to form a partnership took shape during Almedalen political week in 2015 or 2016, after which a partnership gradually formed. Barkarby Science was thus realised as a private enterprise in which the expectations of all participating actors were gathered and coordinated by the municipality. Innovative sustainable solutions are considered not only essential for upcoming projects, but equally so in the existing environment. Barkarby Science is intended to become a platform to realise this innovative environment.

Related SDGs
  • 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.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 17. 17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Barkabystaden 

Barkabyscience 

 

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. 

Coaches for Climate and Energy

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

Municipalities that are part of the project:

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

Challenges

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets

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

7.3 – Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency

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

8.3 – Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

The Oukasi Saving Scheme

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

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets
  • 1.1 By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day
  • 1.b Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions
  • 2.1 By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular
    the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round
  • 3.3 By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases
  • 5.a Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws
  • 6.2 By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • 7.b By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries,
    in particular least developed countries, small island developing States
    and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support
  • 8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • 10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
Further reading

#Women4Cities interview – Rose Molokoane

#Women4Cities

FEDUP

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

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

Multi-party and multi-sector cooperation

In order to avoid compartmentalised working processes within local government, the Mayor of Gothenburg took on an initiative to restructure the city council from separate, siloed areas (environment, health, education, transport, housing, etc.) toward a more interdisciplinary approach across three clusters: economic, environmental, and social, corresponding to three sustainable dimensions of governance.
Challenges

When the former Mayor of Gothenburg took office in 2009, she soon realised that work was being carried out in silos between administrations, politicians and local government officials. The greatest challenge was therefore to find ways to knock down the walls between them for better cooperation.

Good practices & solutions

The political leadership was convinced that the cooperation had to be carried out across different areas of expertise and between politicians and officials, and that this had to be incorporated into existing systems. The idea was to restructure the city council’s way of working from separate, siloed areas (environment, health, education, transport, housing, etc.) toward a more interdisciplinary approach across three clusters: economic, environmental, and social, corresponding to three sustainable dimensions of governance. The overarching aim was that this would lead to a more holistic policymaking approach and more innovative strategies, policies, and plans.

Even if collaboration across different areas of expertise can initially take longer, the political leadership was convinced that it would lead to better and more sustainable decisions in the long run. Hence, they decided to literally tear down the walls between different areas of expertise, and instead work along the abovementioned sustainability clusters.

Outcome & opportunities

This new arrangement created an agreement on the direction for the most important issues. Subsequently, it was decided that the municipal commissioners were responsible for one issue, however in collaboration across the different areas of expertise and with the other clusters. The clusters were tasked to resolve upcoming issues, but to debate the question beyond their specific area of expertise. This led for example to environmental issues not merely being discussed as green issues, but was also put on the agenda in the traffic committee.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Success factors identified in this project include the development of a multi-partisan and multi-sector cooperation, the breaking down of barriers and creation of clusters, as well as the ability to priorities and clarify.

Related SDG targets
  • 17.14. Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development

The 1,5 billion women challenge

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

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

Good practice & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned

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

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
  • 3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks
  • 5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil
    society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: © Women on Wheels

The microphone factory/cultural centre

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

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 8.6 By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: © Orchestra

Turning main street into a cultural centre

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

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

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

Photo: © Orchestra

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

Designing cities with children

Tengbom is an architectural firm based in Sweden and Finland. Their vision is to create innovative and timeless architecture, including ecological, social and economic sustainability. It is one of the oldest architectural firms in Europe and one of the largest in the industry. The activity ranges from urban design and landscape architecture, to interior design and project management.

 

Challenges

The development of our society is creating a shift in citizens’ perspective of ownership. A more shared economy, such as carpools, is one example of what creates opportunities for new types of environments. Beside incorporating new environments in the urban space, architects have a responsibility to include a range of perspectives in their planning process. A key factor for successful urban planning of public spaces and the built environment within these spaces, is that the target audience feel safe. By actively thinking about the users, many uncertain factors can be eliminated. However, when designing for the users, gender equality is key. The architects at Tengbom want to shape environments where girls and boys can meet, creating places to meet across the gender and generational boundaries, blurring them out.

Good practices & solutions

One of the methods Tengbom is working with is to broaden citizen dialogues. Tengbom tries to get more actors to participate in the processes. They listen to civil dialogues, but also promote participation from stakeholders not usually targeted in traditional dialogues. One such project is Framtidskalaset, where children was invited to a creative workshop where they got to use different materials in order to visualize their future homes. Both digital tools, e.g. Minecraft, and physical tools, e.g. cardboard, foil, cotton etc. were used. This type of work with children became an inspiration for further method development of the planning practice within the firm.

Outcome & opportunities

Results from the project point out certain key elements in public spaces where girls’ and children’s needs are met, and interaction over gender and generational boarders is possible. One important element is that users should be able to make the space their own, where people are allowed to take up space, this in turn creates a feeling of ownership. For this to be happen, the spaces need to be flexible, inviting, and have an element of being“unfinished”, meaning it possible for the user to and develop the site. Flexibility is important as it attracts many different audiences to the site, hence, making the space versatile. A staircase is a good example, as a staircase can be a place to walk, sit, meet, play, watch performances, etc. The main take-away from Tengbom’s work is, henceforth, that one element must meet several purposes.

Lessons learned & recommendations

Citizen dialogues and inclusive processes that make the community an active part of the public debate as well as the urban development, fill an important purpose for the society at large. It has become an important part of the democratic process. These methods are applicable everywhere, but one must keep in mind that the local prerequisites differs.

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
  • 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
  • 11.7 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: © Tengbom

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

Free Lots Angeles

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

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

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

Photo: © KDI

Bridging social gaps by transforming roads into Play Streets

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

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets
  • 3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
  • 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding
    public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: © KDI

Productive public space planning and design for inclusive ownership

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

Challenges

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

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

Photo: © KDI

“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