NOW ONLINE: QATAR GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL UTC REPORT ON THE FUTURE OF DOHA – IMPLEMENTING THE NEW URBAN AGENDA

NOW ONLINE: QATAR GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL UTC REPORT ON THE FUTURE OF DOHA – IMPLEMENTING THE NEW URBAN AGENDA

Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) was awarded the right to host Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) in Doha as part of its mission to raise awareness about sustainable living in Qatar. UTC is part of the World Urban Campaign (WUC), an initiative of UN-Habitat, which aims to raise awareness of the UN’s ‘New Urban Agenda’ across emerging cities. The Campus entitled - The Future of Doha, Implementing the new urban agenda - brought together leading Urban thinkers, government decision-makers, members of the private sectors, members of academia, students, designers and consultants to gauge Doha’s current urban development potential and the way forward for a sustainable and intelligent Doha city. UTC-Doha main themes focused on intelligent Cities, Sustainable Neighborhoods, and Private Sector engagement.  
 
QGBC organized the campus in collaboration with the Department of architecture and urban planning – Qatar university, Hamad Bin Khalifa University and the Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors (RICS) as strategic partners in addition to 13 supporting partners representing local and international stakeholders. 
 
UTC-Doha was inaugurated on May 15th, 2017 with a keynote speech from Prof. Dr. Tarek Azmy El-Sheikh, Regional Representative for Gulf States, Director of U.N. Habitat Office in Kuwait. Over the course of 2 days the campus hosted 6 urban labs, 6 urban thinkers sessions and 3 round table discussions with a total of 130 participants representing 53 organizations and 25 countries.
 
UTC-Doha sessions were organized under 3 themes with each theme hosting 3 rounds of interactive discussion around the main topics. Theme 1: The Neighborhood we need, in round 1 it focused on Documenting the current urban design mechanism of neighborhood design in Doha. In round 2 it discussed the considerate sustainable urbanism challenges in policy, strategy and implementation. Concluding with round 3 that evaluated the current recommendations to transform existing neighborhoods. Theme 2: The intelligent City, in round 1 it discussed the city-level planning in the case of Doha. In round 2 it discussed the Smart solutions – the role of new and emerging technologies. Concluding with round 3 that explored the urban solutions for intelligent cities with local aspirations and global challenges. Theme 3: Role of private sector, in round 1 the focus was on the drivers of change towards knowledge based economies. In round 2 it discussed clean technologies, creative economies and drivers to build creative urban technologies. Concluding with round 3 that debated the livelihoods and social economies as drivers to build inclusive cities.
 
The first 2 rounds in each theme started with an urban lab of 2 key speakers and short presentations followed by an urban thinkers session for group discussion. The third round was a roundtable discussion that focused on solution areas and key outcomes of each theme. The campus was concluded with a closing plenary where participants were briefed with the main discussion topics and the key findings and recommendations.
 
 
TC-Doha Theme 1 – The Neighborhood We Need: Key outcomes the neighborhood corporeal experiences and spirits within the built environment of Doha are being drastically alerting. This is also affecting the social structure of local characteristics in Doha which poses a challenge to the general quality of neighborhoods. Therefore, it was suggested that aspects of urban quality in neighborhood could be assessed and fostered to guarantee a well-functioning neighborhood structure, leading to a high quality of urban environment.
UTC-Doha Theme 2 – Intelligent Cities: key outcomes
 
The city needs a 2nd ‘wave’ of urban consolidation.  Smaller, thoughtful interventions to retrofit the gaps between projects, connect and consolidate a high quality public realm throughout the entire city.  With some careful planning Doha could become one of the world’s most livable cities. General concern that other modes of transport especially - walking, cycling, bus and rail are not being fully considered and integrated. Although there are plenty of best practice reports implementation lags.  Funding needs updating with enhanced (revenue based) municipal finance, increased rates and collection and higher levels of service. Doha has an IT platform to enable all providers to address the city’s ‘metabolic’ and increase stakeholder engagement. TASMU - Smart Qatar platform by the ministry of transport and communication in Qatar is a real game-changer in terms of future communication and exchange between stakeholders.
 
UTC-Doha Theme 3 – Role of Private Sector: key outcomes
 
Overall, the discussions highlighted different ways through which private sector can play a critical role in building sustainable urban futures. Given the diverse background of panelists as well as their formations and professions, the sessions witnessed rich perspectives and fruitful discussions in order to make sure we have the city we need in the 21st century’s cities new urban paradigm, which will be guided by various principles identified by the UN Habitat’s World Urban Campaign. Among these principles, speakers in the urban labs often referred to three of them more than others: economically vibrant and inclusive cities; socially inclusive and engaging cities; and finally learning as well as innovating dimension. Based on these principles, speakers’ contributions revolved around various drivers of change
Way forward:
 
Professional talks, such as the Urban Thinking Campus and QGBC’s in-house trainings are complementary to the more human and personal campaigns such as the No Paper Day campaign, Green Life sustainability loyalty program and Qatar sustainability week, during which all members of the community in Qatar can learn about the small ways they can both benefit and contribute to the sustainability agenda. Policy, academia and the personal application of sustainability are complementary to each other. Government policies are essential to the accomplishment of a sustainable city, but these are pointless if they do not empower tangible improvements in the daily lives of people. Bridging this gap is of fundamental importance, and this is a vital part of QGBC’s role in Qatar given its mission to raise awareness about sustainable living in Qatar.
Qatar continues its rapid growth and development following a national vision with an emphasis on the economical, environmental, social and human priorities as the key pillars of development. It’s important to enable and increase the level of participation and partnerships that can promote productive community interaction and private sector involvement towards the efforts to the much needed urban consolidation.
 
The TASMU - Smart Qatar Program has a huge potential to become the needed platform to improve quality of life, enhance the delivery of public services and drive sustainable economic diversification across various sectors. TASMU can facilitate and empower community interaction and private sector partnerships to contribute and innovate to co-create and prioritize relevant solutions and services with the various stakeholders across the board. Such goals can be achieved by stimulating the role of the governmental entities to promote and engage as a market-maker, public entrepreneur and catalyzing the demand for growth and development in response to the stakeholders’ priorities.
 
 
UTC-Doha was an opportunity to explore and harness the principles of the New Urban Agenda & the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs to provide implementable urban solutions that are economically feasible, replicable and scalable using the urban transformation of Doha city as a case study. Doha city is a good representative example of several emerging cities in the region, hence the importance to activate the TASMU smart Qatar program not only to tailor local urban solutions to Doha but also to capitalize on those solutions for regional and international application.
 
Through 2017 & 2018, QGBC will continue to utilize it’s established platforms like the annual Qatar Green Building Conference, Qatar Sustainability Awards and Qatar Sustainability Week in addition to UTC-Doha to facilitate effective communication channels between various partners and stakeholders. Such channels will be utilized to provide an ongoing feedback platform to monitor, assess, review, report and update the implementation actions and priorities of the new urban agenda in Doha. Additionally, QGBC will continue to explore new means of communicating with the members of the community to promote the new urban agenda while getting their priorities and feedback reported back to other stakeholders.  
 
In the long term, UTC-Doha created an opportunity to explore and harness the principles of the New Urban Agenda & the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs to provide implementable urban solutions that are economically feasible, replicable and scalable using the urban transformation of Doha city as a case study. QGBC will continue to empower collaboration among various stakeholders to promote and implement the SDGs in Qatar through it’s applied research, Education, awareness and outreach programs. Given its mission to raise awareness about sustainable living in Qatar, QGBC will continue to venture new partnership opportunities with international, regional and local stakeholders with the goal to facilitate knowledge transfer and lessons learnt to build the local capacity in driving the change towards realizing a resilient future.

 

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