Cities are confronting unprecedented challenges and traditional linear approaches are no longer sufficient to address overlapping, interconnected issues efficiently. But there is an effective way to navigate these complexities and foster positive transformations – involving communities in various ways, to be able to take part in decision-making processes. As this people-powered approach gains momentum and yields promising outcomes, the Innovation Team at UNDP Europe and Central Asia, in collaboration with the Agirre Lehendakaria Center, has been working to develop a toolkit to share tools and processes that help municipalities and other stakeholders engage better with the community to enable holistic engagement and transformation. This new publication titled Co-creating Urban Transformation: A Guide to Community Listening and Engagement for Future-fit Cities is for anybody looking to adopt community-oriented practices and methodologies.
Originally developed as a resource for local authorities taking part in the Mayors for Economic Growth network, a programme jointly funded by the EU and UNDP, and inspired by listening experiences from the City Experiment Fund, the guide’s tools, exercises, and insights are adaptable to different urban contexts and are appropriate for a range of partners driving transformative change at the local level. At its core, the new approach revolves around co-creating urban transformation portfolios through iterative community listening processes. This serves to fortify social cohesion and resilience, particularly during times of crisis and uncertainty. The guide emphasizes that trust is cultivated through direct public engagement, while listening in a meaningful way can galvanize a cultural shift that clears a path for positive change.
The practical adaptation guide is composed of six sections that span the theory of change behind community listening to the development of portfolios. It also delves into the components that facilitate community listening and sensemaking, including how to use ecosystem mapping, data collection matrices, and collective interpretation. The guide also provides step-by-step instructions to equip municipalities and other actors with the tools, templates, and exercises necessary to integrate community listening and engagement seamlessly into their daily operations.
Download the full toolkit for more in-depth explanations and real-life field experience examples.