• Wednesday 19 Oct 2016
  • From Rhetoric to Reality: Cities That Respond to the Needs of All

    Side Events
    Venue: R17
    Lead Organization:
    • ) Community Organizers Multiversity.
    Partner Organizations:
    • The Huairou Commission,
    • The National Democratic Institute,
    • The World Resources Institute.

    The conversation around sustainable cities has long included the rhetoric of equity and inclusion, but the ‘who’ and ‘how’ of these concepts remain ambiguous. This lack of clarity has given rise to service delivery, urban transport, and public spaces that neglect the needs of many people without the resources to compensate for poor design. For example, though women comprise the majority of the world’s urban population—a trend expected to continue to rise—their perspectives and voices are significantly underrepresented in local governance. Worldwide, women make up less than 5 percent of mayors: only 10 out of the world’s 195 capital cities are headed by women. As a result, women’s needs and priorities are too often ignored by city officials, urban planners, and policy experts, undermining the opportunities for progress that urbanization can offer. It often remains up to community-based and grassroots organizations to negotiate their demands (at times contentiously) with local authorities – ranging from slum upgrading/resettlement to transparent delivery of water, electricity, and education. As a result, power relations shift in favor of organized communities at the grassroots level, leading to greater inclusion and equity in local decision-making. Thus, as cities grow, a more nuanced understanding of the complexity of factors that create and perpetuate marginalization is needed to support economic and social prosperity. This event seeks to define the concepts of equity and inclusion in the context of sustainable urbanization, to examine the reality of informal settlements and the urban poor against prevailing theory, and to present best practices honoring the right to live in the city. The panel will be comprised of practitioners, community organizers, mayors, and researchers to discuss important insights into this conversation. Recommendations will emerge highlighting an inclusive and equitable framework for sustainable urbanization.