Urban Thinkers Solutions: Empowerment in the urban space shall drive our future

Urban Thinkers Solutions: Empowerment in the urban space shall drive our future

The World Urban Campaign has been actively engaged in the identification of urban solutions through its community of Urban Thinkers in the last six months before Habitat III.

Today, we are exploring one of the promising trends for innovation to implement the New Urban Agenda: Empowerment in the urban space.

Informal workers, slum dwellers, children and youth are prime examples of these groups, which if empowered to better access the city yield great returns to communities and unanticipated scales. Empowering people is done through various vehicles from education to art. Let’s explore key solutions that are likely to drive the future of cities.


Child friendly space development to create a city that fits for all

proposed by ars86care foundation

Having in mind that 20% of the world population today below the age of 18, through Child Friendly City, a framework has been developed to build a city, which is friendlier to children. A city where the right of the children is fulfilled and the children may gain the opportunity to develop their full potential. The program provides access to quality kindergarten, which adopts child friendly, and environment friendly schools to periphery urban community, especially to underprivileged children. The impact of the program is the local community capacity elevation, placing the early childhood education teachers and principals as well as the children as the agent of change to live in a more environment friendly on the daily basis. Moreover, the program creates a child friendly environment to diminish the disparity of urban-rural linkages as well as strengthening the periphery urban community to become environmentally conscious.

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Inclusive Urban Design and Planning with Informal Workers

proposed by Asiye eTafuleni and WIEGO

AeT has pioneered an alternative approach to urban place-making amongst development professionals demonstrating the value of hybridity in terms of economic activities and land-use. AeT addresses the deficit of creative and alternative approaches within urban design and planning which fosters inclusive development with informal workers. AeT has confirmed that the provision of appropriate and enabling infrastructure decisively alters the development trajectory to the benefit of informal workers utilizing public space. This has contributed to establishing an innovative developmental approach supporting the resilience of informal workers that are increasingly being mainstreamed as active contributors within urban economies - with increased voice, visibility and validity.   IWs operating from public spaces constitute one of the largest categories of informal work in Africa. AeT’s objective is to contribute to redress as a socio-political imperative, by empowering the African population that constitute the urban informal workforce that were previously repressed, marginalized and excluded from economically viable urban environments.

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ArTourism: Art and tourism combined to generate social inclusion  and vibrant communities

proposed by Fundación BogotArt

Artourism is a model to generate urban social inclusion, enhance the sense of belonging to a place and promote an equitable access to the arts. This is done through community-based artworks promoting their area for tourism in order to break stereotypes. The solution has helped to attract visitors in a neighborhood that has been famous for its marginalization, but not tourism opportunities. So far 100% of the tourist who have visited La Perseverancia have left with a positive image, realizing the prejudices of communities. Since the mural paintings has been created, the community has protected them, with the artworks remaining intact up to now. This also brings potential to involve youth at-risk from the community to become tour guides and making sustainable income, thus improving their quality of life.

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Empowering slum-dwellers for participatory planning and infrastructure budgeting

proposed by Practical Action

The project has mainstreamed slum-dweller engagement in local authority planning and budgeting through sustained practices of local-level participatory planning, benefitting over 31,600 people from 82 communities across 6 municipalities in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Communities not only plan, but take a lead as appropriate infrastructure choices are installed. A sustainable mechanism developed for slum based associations, leading to demand generation for infrastructure services and other needs. Continuous engagement of local authorities with slum people to provide demand-led services, leveraging at least €2 million (more than the project’s budget) in additional infrastructure investments by the project’s third year. Some 18,800 slum dwellers have directly benefited from infrastructure and service improvements, and livelihoods generated for 337 people. Slum dwellers enjoy lower health costs, increased respect in the town, and greater socio-economic and cultural opportunities. Marginalized groups such as harijan sweepers, displaced people and women-headed households benefited in particular.

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A laboratory for participatory decision-making in public space regeneration

proposed by Place Identity Clusters, The Switch, (Syn-Athina Platform), Actors of Urban Change Network

A prototype process of participatory planning has been developed based on civic participation, stakeholder engagement and cross-sector partnerships. The process involved the organization of workshops, through which citizens jointly make decisions creating a shared understanding of the challenges of the square and developing proposals concerning its regeneration. The institutional barriers to citizen participation, the diversity of the stakeholders and communities with conflicting agendas, as well as the heavy working schedules of the citizens can make participation seem elusive. The focus of the project has been to examine the urban regeneration processes by local authorities and to re-structure it in a way that citizens with diverse backgrounds could participate and be heard. Therefore, innovative and easy to follow participation and collaboration methods, such as World Café, Open Space Technology and Collective Mind Map were selected and introduced through workshops in all phases of the urban planning process.

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Réseau Quartiers verts - Active Neighborhoods Canada

proposed by Montreal Urban Ecology Centre, The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation and Sustainable Calgary Society

A network of communities using participatory urban planning to build green, active and healthy neighborhoods. This network works together to multiply communities more adapted to pedestrian and cycling. The long-term goal of the initiative is to rethink urban planning in order to make it favorable to active transportation, with particular attention to youth movements. The project partners are working with 12 communities (citizens, organizations and other groups) that were selected according to certain criteria. These communities, located in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, will act as levers to ensure that examples of participatory planning best practices and pedestrian and cyclist-friendly developments continue to increase across Canada.

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Pro-poor market facilitation approach improves lives of informal Solid Waste workers

proposed by Practical Action

This project strengthened the capacities of the most marginalized informal waste workers in Kathmandu Valley around collective bargaining for better prices and enhancement of entrepreneurial skills, with a strong focus on creating a legal association for decent employment and introducing social protection schemes to improve income generation and working conditions. The project had significant social, economic, health and education impacts. Informal waste workers benefitted from long term entrepreneurial skills training and are now working under a cooperative that guarantees their access to social and health protection schemes and an increase in income that led to improved access to education for children. The solid waste market system has developed in a more inclusive manner and now offers a 25% increase in prices for recyclable waste collected by informal workers and other small processors, which makes waste management a profitable business and more sustainable service in Kathmandu.

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Street Vendors in Ahmedabad: Organizing for Job Security

proposed by WIEGO  and Self-Employed Women’s Association

SEWA adopts an integrated approach accompanying advocacy work with development activities through capacity building, government linkages, accessing finance, etc. The project began with the organization of street vendor members who further worked towards increasing their representation in formal decision-making bodies, accessing basic services and social security, and finding local solutions to issues. SEWA has an integrated approach where it works on multiple issues faced by its members simultaneously. In the case of Ahmedabad’s street vendors, SEWA’s advocacy efforts have been accompanied by linking members to government services and access to finance, and by offering capacity building trainings. This web of activities not only meets the multiple needs of street vendors, but also provides them with short-term gains during their long advocacy struggles.

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Youth Entrepreneurship and youth led urban service provision

proposed by World Vision International  

Through facilitating informal youth groups involved in waste management together into a formalized cooperative and providing them with business skills, entrepreneurship training and technical advice, this solution aims to improve the financial viability of using waste management as a tool for improving youth livelihoods. This project used a three-tiered approach to empower young people to ensure a viable livelihood and improve solid waste management within the community. Formalizing and institutional strengthening of the urban youth groups into a recognized Waste Management Alliance; Enhanced technical and entrepreneurial empowerment for effective solid waste management and business development; and Advocacy for youth engagement in urban basic services within the government’s policy units.

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