Community Outreach: A mandatory investment for inclusive, sustainable and liveable cities

Hall 4, Room D

city. Top-down processes – though they might be easier to carry out – can easily miss the diversity in the needs of the community, and result in a less attractive city to live, work and do business in. To ensure urban quality and that citizens have the opportunity to voice their opinions and contribute with their knowledge, a people’s process is necessary.

Community engagement can take many forms and give citizens different degrees of influence. From letting people voice their opinions, but not necessarily following it up, to having communities as co-creators of new strategies, plans, and projects. To ensure a fair and equitable process, it is critical to ensure that everyone has not just the right, but also the opportunities and resources to be heard. Without a focus on this, the engagement process can easily be unjust, skewed or tokenistic.

Some of the best opportunities for participative planning and positive community change come after a natural or man-made disaster, contentious issues or an urban crisis, when the local authorities need the city’s support in the decision-making process and people need each other. Besides, because public engagement can be “contagious”, the actions of even a few citizens will often have a positive multiplier effect. Nowadays, social media, innovative technologies, and emerging interactive platforms have widened and amplified the means of engagement, particularly of women and youth. However, in many parts of the world, the poorest or illiterate may still be excluded from such participation processes.

When planning for sustainability, the continuous involvement of the community can help shed light on their needs, aspirations and ensure a higher degree of interest and buy-in for development proposals. This session presents good practices when it comes to promoting active engagement with civil society and experiences with letting more voices be heard in the planning processes. An all-encompassing and active public participation is not easy to facilitate, as different people have different resources, mindsets, and needs, and including everyone equitably can be time-consuming and demanding. Through the session, lessons learned when working with many different stakeholders will be presented. The objective of the session is to promote community engagement in any planning process with the goal of supporting increased liveability and “cities for all”.

Through the panel discussions, representatives from the central and state governments will present insights to encourage public participation in the development processes through regulatory and legislative requirements. The implication of strong regulations promoting and mandating community engagement on the ground will be shared by mayors and city administrators from cities representing different global regions. Finally, programme managers will discuss practical examples of embedding community engagement from conceptualization to programme implementation. The innovative tools, good practices and lessons learned from cities will be explored to promote a people-centered process of moving towards inclusive, sustainable and liveable cities.

  • This session aims to mainstream community engagement and participation to strengthen sustainability and liveability outcomes of urban policies, planning and management, and programmes.

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