Our first ever portfolio bootcamp The climate crisis, urban development, and digital transformation are complex challenges that call for a new way of working. This […]
Urban Talks is an 8-part webinar series (with several bonus episodes) that spotlights cities and initiatives that are building new inclusive visions across Europe and Central Asia and wider, and showcases how cities are demonstrating resilience, reinventing their economies, transitioning to inclusive and smart cities, and building new partnerships. It is a space for exchanging insights and learnings and bringing together a growing community of cities, practitioners and thinkers, that are approaching urban challenges in a systematic way.
Follow our website for updates as we unveil a new series each week. Read more about the changing nature of cities in our latest blog celebrating World Cities Day!
Current advisor to the Istanbul Planning Agency Vision (Action) Plan 2050 preparation and coordinates the Action Plan process, Prof. Dr. H. Tarık Şengül highlights how to convert the Vision Plan for Istanbul urban transformation into an Action Plan.
Before taking a deep dive into implementation challenges, this Urban Talk underlines three keys to design a Vision that makes sense: (1) Inviting many stakeholders to participate in the creation of said vision, (2) identifying main themes that encompass concrete objectives, and (3) tackling these objectives through the lense of crises that could most likely affect the achievement of each goal.
Prof. Sengul then proceeds to address specific topics during a Q&A with the audience, including bureaucracy, monitoring tools, network of cities, and more.
The keynote speaker, Alexander Shevchenko, Ukrainian urbanist and co-founder of ReStart Ukraine, presented the work that ReStart is doing in partnership with UNDP Ukraine. In particular he took the audience through the brief context of Ukrainian cities before the war, damages they have sustained and continue to experience, and touched upon future considerations. The talk gathered a large community of urban specialists, local self-government representatives and experts working on social transformation across the world, and focused on Ukraine and the approach to reviving destroyed cities.
Alexander explained the scale of damage and typology of tasks cities across Ukraine need to solve to move to develop sustainably. The discussion further focused on the high-level approach to typologies of recovery concepts for urban areas in Ukraine. ReStart proposes to take into account location(proximity to the war zone), size (population, area, administrative role of the city) and timeline as the main features that will define the canvas for recovery.
Participants were invited to share their ideas and thoughts on the key drivers and uncertainties regarding the future of Ukrainian cities. While, most of the collective intelligence circles around security issues, participants emphasized such elements of recovery as public participation, social cohesion, transparency and optimism!
Author of the recently released book Sacred Civics: Building Seven Generation Cities, urbanist Dr. Jayne Engle, current Co-Director of Participatory Canada, shares her passion for bridging collective action and commoning with policy and systems change.
This Urban Talk questions how to build physical, digital, social and institutional infrastructures, to enable people in seven generations from now to prosper within equitable and regenerative cities. Dr. Engle breaks down the agency that cities have to rise above organic trajectories, by exploring foundational keys to change, busting socially constructed assumptions, and making bold moves.
Following Dr. Engle’s insights, the audience takes part in an interactive exercise to discuss what municipalities would need for both present and future generations to thrive, and share examples of existing regenerative cities.
Zooming in Georgia, this Urban Talk, facilitated by Tiko Tkeshelashvili from UNDP Georgia, highlights the ongoing efforts of the municipalities of Batumi and Rustavi to involve local authorities in building Urban Makeovers.
How important is the role of local governments in promoting local economic development? In developing vibrant communities? In creating innovation capacities?
After an overview on what Urban Makeovers are from Yaera Chung, from the Innovation Team at UNDP’s Istanbul Regional Hub, hear from Rustavi’s Assistant to the Mayor on Strategic Development and Innovations Revaz Barbakadze, and from Batumi’s Head of Municipal Policy Department Rusudan Zhozhadze, about the challenges they face and overcame to build cultural vibrancy in their respective municipalities.
The talk then wraps up with a conversation with the audience on engaging diverse voices to work alongside local authorities in creating Urban Makeovers.
Watching the recording in Georgian here.
This one is all about food! What does food have to do with urban systems you may ask? This Urban Talk explores food systems, with a focus on how municipalities can become self-sufficient by producing all the food they need, and how cities can better manage their biowaste issues through circularity practices.
In this talk, we hear from co-founder Damiano Cerrone about the work of SPIN Unit, uncovering new urban assets – the commons – and translating them into drivers of change. He walks us through the BlueRibbon Project approach in Tallinn, Estonia, and how moving from municipal to regional scale, dietary changes, and shifting people’s behaviours can all lead to food self-sufficiency.
We then move on to the winners of the UNDP-UNICEF Green Shark Challenge Igor Izotov, Antonio Jovanovski, Bore Pucoski and Lazar Pop Ivanov, who tell us about Bio-hack my World, their solution addressing biowaste management issues through: (1) entrepreneurship and educational programmes; (2) raising awareness to create public demand and engagement; and (3) the creation of a Biohacking Lab in Skopje, Macedonia.
Finally, we proceed to open the floor to a discussion about how relying on local communities and initiatives is the key to move forward with food systems solutions that need to be specific to the regional context.
Digital Rights are now acknowledged to be basic human rights. This Urban Talk focuses on the work of UN-Habitat on empowering cities to protect those rights both at the global and local level.
Florencia Serale, Digital Rights Consultant at UN-Habitat’s Innovation Unit, kick starts the conversation by exploring ways to improve the link between human rights and the use of technology in cities, and then proceeds to go through a step-by-step framework for local governance to build commitment, mechanisms and methods in this regard.
Paula Boet Serrano, from the Barcelona City Council, moves on to highlight the role of the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, a network of 50 cities across the globe that are helping each other in the relatively new field of digital rights policy-making. Paula then discusses the Digital Rights Governance Project, addressing how cities can lead digital transformation strategies that are people-centred, and that support sustainable urbanization.
The audience was then invited to take part in an interactive exercise during which participants reflected on digital rights challenges encountered in their respective cities, and ways to address them.
Finally, we concluded by looking at the future, as Florencia walks us through the Digital Helpdesk for Cities, a multi-stakeholder initiative to improve technical support for cities and communities, and accelerate digital transformation.
In a context where traditional economic models appear to no longer work to address emerging and future issues, urban stakeholders must ask themselves: What do we need to do now to shift systems? In celebration of World Cities Day, our four panelists each brought a specific perspective to the question.
Mayor of Ungheni (Moldova) Alexandru Ambros opens the conversation by calling for distributed power. The aim is to foster radical collaboration between different actors, through a “web of bridges” that generates active feedback loops and enables cities to respond faster when shocks happen.
Then, our very own Tina Stoum, who leads the EU and UNDP-led Mayors for Economic Growth initiative, highlights how urban stakeholders can transform unequal economic structures by (1) focusing on their hyperlocal realities, (2) adopting an optimistic learning mindset and willingness to do things differently, and (3) remaining united in following a common vision for the future.
Programme director of NetZeroCities Thomas Osdoba moves on by sharing how a mission driven platform such as NetZeroCities can be used to (1) develop a new set of tools for cities to learn how to work systematically, (2) build municipal capacity and capability, (3) create an effective ecosystem of actors working together with local governments, and (4) drive several channels of innovation.
Finally, renowned author Charles Landry calls for boldness and unleashing creativity in cities to shift systems. The Creative Bureaucracy movement addresses this by bringing together bureaucrats from around the world, who use their imagination and capabilities to reimagine the role of governments as enablers of change.
The talk ends with a vibrant conversation between participants and speakers, about key concepts that would help cities thrive in the future.
At first sight, a major earthquake triggers an overwhelming crisis for municipalities to manage. However, this talk explores how two cities from two completely different regions – Eskişehir, Türkiye and Christchurch, NewZealand – took advantage of this opportunity for an urban reset to rebuild for the better.
Prof. Dr. Yilmaz Büyükerşen, fifth time Mayor of Eskişehir, starts the talk by dazzling the audience with local government investment efforts on establishing an efficient transport plan, rejuvenating the Porsuk river, creating green spaces, and building many cultural attractions. From a science experiment centre and fairy tale castle, to an underwater world park and Japanese gardens, you name it, Eskişehir has it. The mayor then addressed questions from the audience about funding, partnerships and challenges encountered.
Then we are transported to the other side of the world to hear co-authors of Huritanga: 10 years of transformational place-making, Dr Kelly Dombroski and Dr Amanda Yates, walk us through their partnership with Life in Vacant Spaces, matching Christchurch’s land owners with sustainable and innovative urban regeneration project ideas. The participants closed the talk by asking questions on positive ripple effects for other municipalities and building urban resilience.
Watch the recording in Turkish here.
Are there ways for cities to prepare for natural disasters? This talk is zooming in on prevention efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, highlighting how both countries have implemented early warning systems against flooding in their region.
We start our journey in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Goran Bosankić from the UNDP Country Office painting a portrait of the country’s geographical reality, and detailing its integrated water management approach. We then move on to hydraulic engineer and technical expert Amila Hadžiahmetović, who deep dives into the development of the hydrological flood forecasting system, an endeavour that started in 2014 following a major flood that devastated the country.
We then continue our journey by crossing the border to Serbia, with Vladimir Lazovic from the UNDP Country Office listing different water management projects deployed in recent years, and how teams made regional forecasting available to the general public. Then we explore the specific reality of the municipality of Krusevac, with Dusan Todorovic walking us through the various key components of the city’s forecast system against flash floods, while underlining how cooperation with different partners is key to ensure good practice.
We close the talk with questions from the audience about how nature-based solutions can be integrated in flooding prevention initiatives and how to make forecast data available on regional servers.
Watch the recording in Serbian here.
In a context where climate change has become an inevitable challenge to tackle, conversations around the role of cities have emerged: Are cities driving climate action? Can they play a significant role in solving the climate crisis? This talk addresses these questions by highlighting ways municipalities can build resilience against climate action.
First, we hear from Independent Risk & Resilience Consultant Gareth Byatt, who emphasizes the critical role of government to advance systems thinking and improve decision making through engagement of diverse stakeholders. (View his presentation here.)
Then, Prof. Bharat Dahiya, Director of the Research Center for Sustainable Development and Innovation at the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University, highlights the challenges posed by facing several levels of governance, and how it creates a disconnect between national policy and local implementation. He proceeds to underline how critical stakeholder engagement is, and how to influence the central government to unlock more funding and lead more integrated policies.
We then zoom in on the case of Armenia, with Elen Sahradyan, Public Policy Innovation Lead, and Armen Chilingaryan, Programme Manager, at UNDP Armenia, who guide us step-by-step on how the Doughnut economic model was adapted for Yerevan. Among other things, they share with us how Yerevan advanced action on climate resilience by (1) downscaling the model to help the municipality and its stakeholders understand/advocate for it, and (2) implementing success indicators to measure progress. (View their presentation here.)
We close with Ljubica Teofilovska, Project Manager at UNDP North Macedonia, who tells us about the concept of people-centred cities. The principle is simple: Leave no one behind. She shares the example of how Skopje became more resilient and adaptable to climate change by addressing four priorities: urban heat island, erosion, water biodiversity, and disaster risk reduction. To address these priorities we find out more about initiatives such as the urban heat island map, green roofs and parking lots, biotope mapping in water habitats, and flooding prevention operational plan. (View her presentation here.)
Have you ever heard of tactical urbanism? All you need to know about it is in this talk! We are taking you on a trip to Karşıyaka in Türkiye, to apply theory to a real life situation.
We start with UNDP Türkiye Head of Experimentation Gökçe Tuna introducing us to the core topic: How do urban, organizational, and/or citizen-led approaches to neighborhood building use short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyze long-term change? We start right away by looking at different examples around the world, including Canada, Japan, Chile, to assess how diverse the various applications of urban tactics can be.
Özlem Kocaer, Head of Urban Design for the Municipality of Karşıyaka, then walks us through interventions co-led by UNDP, the Municipality of Karşıyaka and a Japanese firm specializing in placemaking, expanding on strategies and tools required to build a resilient city.
Gökçe Tuna then shares candid insights about the behind-the-scenes for two urban sites that were reinvented: (1) A courtyard-turned-park for stray animals, also popular during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and (2) a pocket park designed to keep cooler temperatures and provide a colourful resting spot in the heart of the city.
Both speakers conclude their presentation with key learnings from these experiences. We then wrap up with questions from the audience on citizen engagement, funding, and key ingredients needed for urban tactics to be successful.
(View their presentation here.)
Have you ever wondered what cities would look like if they were designed for women? How can we create cities that are more inclusive and accessible, safer, and equitable? This talk allies theory and practice, by walking us through frameworks and roadmaps, as well as concrete practical cases.
We kickstarted the talk with Arup’s Global Leader of Social Value and Equity Dr Sara Candiracci and Principal Urban Planner Kim Power, who opened the conversation with a poll to gather the audience’s perceptions on safety, representation and equal opportunities, according to gender and geography. They then tapped into why designing gender-responsive and inclusive cities is important, and deep dived into their Cities Alive: Designing cities that work for women framework, around the four themes of (1) Safety and Security, (2) Justice and Equity, (3) Health and Wellbeing, and (4) Enrichment and Fulfillment. They closed their presentation by sharing tools and methods for putting these actions into practice; and delivering cities that work for women.
Moving from theory to practice, Deputy Mayor of Pristina (Kosovo) Donjeta Sahatçiu shared examples illustrating how the municipality led the urban regeneration of a mid-century urban block to build open spaces for both women and men, and how children aged 10+ and neighbors co-designed public and green spaces to create a safer environment for girls.
Focusing on inclusive implementation, CatalyticAction Co-Founder & Director of Programmes Joana Dabaj concluded by showcasing projects that use design and architecture to empower vulnerable children, young people and their communities. Finally, we took a trip to Lebanon to immerse ourselves in the construction process of playgrounds, schools, and parks and many more, highlighting how participation and intersectionality was essential to empower women in public spaces.
The session wrapped up with a Q&A with the audience, on implementation challenges, how to engage men as allies, and how to bridge the gap between city planning and procurement/education systems.
Cities are among the highest achievements of human collective intelligence. They are constantly being recreated and shaped by the actions of millions of people, happening simultaneously and without coordination. When tackling urban challenges, how do we foster citizens’ engagement and participation? This talk is a crash course on urban collective intelligence, including basic concepts, the pioneers who led us to it, and concrete case studies.
We opened the talk by asking the audience about the prerequisites they believe are necessary to enable citizen participation in their communities. The ideas of trust and transparency and information sharing were the most prominent ones.
Peter Baeck from Nesta opened the speaker lineup with an introduction on what their approach to collective intelligence is, how they work on it, and how it is used to solve urban challenges. He highlighted how collective intelligence is at the intersection of people, data and digital technology, and then proceeded to share a series of case studies showcasing how Nesta’s work implements collective intelligence as a way to lead systemic change, including examples in Toronto, Barcelona, and Paris.
Then, UNDP Accelerator Alberto Cottica walked us through a call to ancestors, who imagined collective intelligence as a way to address urban issues, such as city planning and policy making, to tackle the ongoing struggle between urban top-down planning of city rulers and the bottom-up structures and norms created by inhabitants. Alberto mentioned Jane Jacobs – the first to put forward that cities are made of people rather than buildings, Geoffrey West – who highlighted how possibilities for diverse urban interactions and dynamics skyrocketed as cities became more and more populated and fast-paced, James Scott – who brings forward the disastrous consequences of standardization imposed by the State, and Adam Greenfield – who denounces the limits of today’s smart cities.
Justyna Linke, an expert in participatory urban transformation at Hyperlocal, closed the ball by bringing us to the field, as she immersed the audience in concrete projects, activities and initiatives that used collective intelligence in the context of climate crisis and urban design, using the power of gamification, foresight, and citizens’ interviews. She closed her presentation with an anecdote emphasizing the importance of asking the right questions to gather relevant and insightful answers.
The session wrapped up with a vivid discussion on the importance of starting small, meeting people where they are, and dropping the jargon to keep everyone engaged. An exchange between the speakers also pointed out the importance of focusing on understanding the problems rather than on designing the solution.
Today, cities are constantly challenged by growing human mobility trends and the need to respond to new waves of migrants and displaced populations. Human mobility has significant implications for the economic, social, and environmental development of municipalities. This talk focuses on the impact of human mobility on urbanization, with a strong emphasis on the role of municipalities and other actors to design sustainable response strategies for rapidly growing urban areas.
UNDP Regional Human Mobility Adviser for ECIS Oxana Maciuca opens the conversation with 5 key elements we need to consider when talking about human mobility and urbanization: (1) how the world is becoming more urbanized, (2) factors impacting urbanization through human mobility, (3) social and economic opportunities for host communities, (4) challenges to address, and (5) huge positive outcomes.
We then moved on to UN Habitat Programme Management Officer for urban crisis prevention and response Mariana Lessa Voïta, who walked us through financial, measurement and urban planning tools developed to support local and national authorities in designing non-discriminatory urban environments. She walked us through how to implement the New Urban Agenda, a resource recognizing the key role of local governments in addressing discrimination faced by “people on the move”, regardless of their migration status. She then shared case studies, including inclusive national policies for refugees in Uganda, security of tenure in Afghanistan, and durable urban planning solutions in Burkina Faso.
Last speaker to take the floor was Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality (Türkiye) Deputy General Secretary Dr. Mehmet Abdullah Aksoy, who set the table with the statement that “Migration is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be managed”. He articulated Gaziantep’s three important milestones in how the municipality dealt with the influx of Syrian refugees and citizens affected by the Kahramanmaraş earthquakes: (1) Creating a Municipal Migration Department, (2) Developing an Interactive Social Cohesion Model, and (3) Signing the Gaziantep Declaration for Migration. He emphasized that efforts led by the municipality were not a favor for refugees but rather international, legal and humanitarian responsibility.
We closed the talk with a very engaging conversation involving both speakers and members of the audience, on how a municipality can communicate to its citizens the efforts undertaken to manage human mobility, how to mobilize local diasporas to facilitate integration, and how to deal with the relationship between beggars and local authorities.
Stay tuned for more talks!
Our first ever portfolio bootcamp The climate crisis, urban development, and digital transformation are complex challenges that call for a new way of working. This […]
or how UNDP, UNICEF and the City of Skopje established the first Biohacking Lab in Skopje FROM EMPTY LAB TO FIRST PROTOTYPES AND SOLUTIONS Through […]
Tiko Tkeshelashvili, M4EG Project Manager, UNDP Georgia Irmak Ekin Karel, Strategic Innovation Designer, CHÔRAIgor Izotov, Head of Exploration, UNDP Accelerator Lab, North Macedonia Rusudan Zhozhadze, Head […]