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Frontrunners for Sustainable Innovation

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

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

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

Frontrunners for sustainable innovation

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

Brevvännerna / The Pen Pals

Background
Brevvännerna is a Swedish NGO founded in 2018. By promoting contacts and exchange ideas between elementary- and high schools and organisations working with sustainable development, they see how pupils increase their understanding and motivation to participate in societal and sustainable development processes. They have identified a need for a plurality of actors to take the lead in introducing children and youths to the complex contemporary and future challenges we are facing today, and most importantly – invite them to become a part in finding the solutions. Brevvännerna act as a direct link between those sectors and coordinate contact and promote the exchange of ideas. They aim to widen their spectra by encouraging municipalities to use this method as a way to reach out to and include young people in the development and democratic processes.

Relation to SDG targets
Brevvännerna works more precisely towards SDG target 4.4 – ‘to substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship’ and SDG target 4.7 – ‘To 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’. Depending on the cooperation partners, Brevvännerna’s work can also cover other SDG goals.  

Relation to localizing SDGs – A practical example
Currently, Brevvännerna are working together with The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and the Institution of Electrical Engineering, to involve schools and pupils all over Sweden to contribute their ideas on how to develop the work with renewable energy sources. The pupils receive a letter from the professor at the university, which is forwarded from Brevvännernas website. The professor then asks the pupils for help to contribute their ideas on how to save energy or build solar panels on the school’s roof. In the Swedish city Lidköping, pupils got engaged with local companies and the municipality office to discuss how they collectively could save more energy in Lidköping.

Challenges
Brevvännerna have identified following problems, which they are working on how to solve: 

  1. Social exclusion. 54 percent of youths experience social exclusion. Brevvännerna wants to fight this by involving pupils in important societal processes, where the pupils feel that their ideas are asked for and important to the surrounding society.
  2. Lack of knowledge of the labour market. 68 percent of youths addressed a lack of adequate information from the school, regarding the labour market. Brevvännerna wants to fight this by offering contacts with different sectors in the society, and widen the spectra of different kinds of professions that exist. 
  1. Sustainability. 67 percent of youths believe the climate crisis can be solved through cross-sectorial inclusive cooperation. Brevvännerna wants to involve young people in this work and make them a part of the solution.

Good practices & solutions
By spreading awareness of the cooperation organisations to pupils in elementary- and high school, it promotes collaboration with the future workforce. It is beneficial to the organisations, as they will get input of their work from younger generations. This collaborative method is in agreement with the curriculum for the compulsory and high school – to support teachers in teaching different subjects by offering students contacts with external actors that can enrich the students awareness and knowledge on how the organisation and the society works more actively for a sustainable development. 

Outcome & opportunities
Brevvännerna creates and improves better conditions for students to learn about the complexity of society, organisations’ initiatives for a sustainable development, as well as their own opportunities to contribute to and participate in democratic, social and sustainable development. In addition, pupils get informed about the different existing professions and their roles in the general labour market, which increases youths’ awareness of their own personal interests and possible directions for the future.

Lessons learned & recommendations
The solution to involve pupils in organisations’ development work is a successful and resource effective method for organisations to use. There is great potential to localize this method and deepen the cooperation with municipalities on how to reach out to, and involve, young citizens in developing important tasks in the municipality.


For more information about Brevvännerna, click here.

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

Circular Public Procurement

The municipality of Aalborg has high aspirations when it comes to sustainability and has during the past two decades worked committedly to improving the sustainability of the city. It is the fourth largest city in Denmark and is home to more than 200 000 citizens. As a result of a Danish school reform that recognised the importance of differentiated learning environments for facilitating inclusion, well-being and improved learning, schools in Denmark are looking for new classroom designs, which are flexible and dynamic and that can be tailored to classes’ learning needs. Aalborg decided to use this opportunity to transform their approach of classroom design far away from just focusing tables and chairs, and instead create an inspiring learning environment, that supports students’ needs whilst also strengthening the circular economy of the school. Thus, Aalborg designed a public procurement tender that asked providers not just to supply, but also inspire and challenge ideas, and provide a comprehensive proposal for a new classroom environment based on circularity and the re-use and refurbishing of existing furniture.
Challenge

The environmental impact of furniture and other classroom equipment are linked to the materials that are used in the production. Schools are just one of many examples where furniture and other equipment have a short lifespan due to its heavy use. Not only is purchasing new furniture expensive, it is also not environmentally sustainable. But, as the actual use of furniture results in virtually no environmental impact, extending the lifespan has a direct environmental benefit. As such, a circular approach to procurement, which rewards reuse and refurbishment over purchases of new furniture, can be considered a more holistic and sustainable approach to meeting organisations furniture needs.

Good practices and solutions

The use of public procurement to support the acceleration of circular economy and sustainability in public services is a good example that is also advocated as a useful method by the EU. In the case of Aalborg, the tender for new classroom designs was designed to include provider merits of:

• Integrating the principles of circular economy with interior design solutions
• Analysing interior design through dialogue with schools
• Guaranteeing the possibility of recycling existing furniture
• Preparing interior design proposals
• Restoring and refurbishing existing furniture
• Delivering and installing new furniture
• Responsibly disposing of excess furniture which is not considered suitable for reuse or recycling.

This way, Aalborg ensured that the provider would be responsible for the long-term maintenance the produces and use sustainable materials and reparable furniture with a long life-cycles. Furthermore, technical specifications of the tender specified that the use of packaging should be made from recycled materials, at least 70 percent of wood used should come from sustainable sources. The producer also had to provide service and during the total warranty period had to inform the schools of the relevant maintenance services available and advised for each product.

Outcome and opportunities

Sustainable and circular procurement looks beyond short-term needs and considers the whole lifecycle of a product or service. As a result, schools can reuse and repair classroom furniture rather than purchasing new, thereby saving costs, as well as reducing the environmental impact of producing new furniture. However, for the procurement process to work as expected it is important to design the tender carefully with cross-sectoral input on how to define the services and products asked for. It is also important to include a requirement for continued monitoring and evaluation of the services provided throughout the whole contract period in order to ensure that the procurement and the services provided meet the objectives.

Related SGD targets:
  • 4.A Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
  • 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
  • 12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.

 

Photo: © Katya Austin/Unsplash

 

Hagastaden

Challenges

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

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

Good Practices & Solutions

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

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

Outcome & Opportunities

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

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

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

Related SDGs
  • 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • 4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
  • 5 . Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • 9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
  • 9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 11. 4 Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 11.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
Further reading

Hagastaden

Stockholm Science City 

Stockholm Läns Landsting “Gul linje till Arenastaden”

Stockholm Konst 

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

Norra Djurgårdsstaden

Challenges

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

Good practices & solutions

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

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

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

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

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Further reading

Norra Djurgårdsstaden

The 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

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

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

Empowering youth through city farming

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

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

 Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets
  • 3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • 15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species
Further reading

Photo: © 4H

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

Children’s indicators becoming an formal planning tool

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

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

Good practices & solutions

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

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

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets
  • 1.7 Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 5.c Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: ardiwebs / Shutterstock.com

Women entrepreneurs benefitting entire communities

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

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

Good practices & solutions

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

Outcome & opportunities

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

Lessons learned & recommendations

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

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision- making at all levels
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of
Further reading

Photo: © KDI

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