Red Dot Foundation: Inclusive Cities

Red Dot Foundation: Inclusive Cities

It’s hard to believe that just two months ago we were in Abu Dhabi for the World Urban Forum, exchanging ideas and learning good practices in urbanism. Currently, I am locked down in Mumbai, India since 25 March. Like many other countries, India took this bold decision to combat COVID19.

However unlike other countries, we were given only four hours notice before the lockdown was implemented. As a result, many people (migrants, labourers and others at the bottom of the pyramid) were left with no income, no food and in many cases no roof over their heads. Since then we have seen terrible images of people walking hundreds of kilometres to reach their villages, carrying belongings on their head along with their infant children. Pregnant women and children have also undertaken this arduous journey.

In response, my colleague Prathima Manohar who is the Founder of The Urban Vision and myself commenced a series of fireside chats with urban experts to discuss the topic of “inclusive cities”. Clearly, policy making in current times have left millions of people behind and probably did not even factor their needs into the equation when deciding on the course of action. To help us understand the current scenario and plan for a more inclusive world we embarked on these online fire side chats. At the time of this post, we interviewed Jagan Shah from DFID, Pedro Ortiz ex-Deputy Mayor of Madrid and Juma Assiago from UN Habitat Safer Cities Program.

The discussion has been fascinating. Clearly, the exodus of informal workers during the lockdown has shown all of us how unequal our cities are. It forces us to reflect and relook at how we plan our cities, our urban commons, the definition of “inclusiveness” and “local” and empathy in the design of our cities. It is in times of crisis and disasters like COVID19 when we can see the glaring inequality and the inability of our current cities to meet the needs of all its residents including the informal labour.

As we continue to search for answers we hope that we can use the framework of The New Urban Agenda to ensure that all citizens have a "right to the City”. Do join us every Wednesday and Friday at 6 pm IST /0830 am EST on the live cast of  “Inclusive Cities”.

Article by ElsaMarie DSilva