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Regional Conference “Socially Inclusive Cities”

Categories: Events, Regional Conferences | Author: ihasanagic@worldbank.org | Posted: 4/24/2017 | Views: 5292
Cities For The People - Making Collaborative Governance Happen, March 26 - 28, 2017, Zagreb - Croatia

As part of the “Social Sustainability and Citizen Engagement” component of the World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Program (UPP), the Regional Conference “Socially Inclusive Cities” was held on March 27 and 28, 2017 in Zagreb, Croatia. The Conference brought together around 80 participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia including Mayors, city leaders, local and central government representatives, Civil Society Organizations, Local Government Associations, business sector and other key stakeholders.

City governments and mayors in the region are today facing challenges arising from climate change, economic transformation, and demographic shifts in their cities. Economic and social inequalities have further exacerbated resulting in lack of accountability, transparency and citizen engagement at the municipal level. As a result, municipal officials are experiencing increasing pressure to find sustainable solutions to transforming urban centers into resilient and sustainable communities – doing so by reducing energy costs, improving quality of services, reducing waste, providing socially inclusive urban environments, and creating economic opportunities for their citizens.  

Since 2011, the Government of Austria has been collaborating with the World Bank to strengthen the capacity of local governments in the seven SEE countries through the Urban Partnership Program. The objective of the Program is to support cities and local governments from South-East Europe in the process of reform and modernization, in order to promote local development for inclusive and sustainable growth, and enhance urban governance.

Dario Runtic, welcomed all participants on behalf of the Croatian Association of Cities. In her opening remarks, Vera Dugandzic, acting Country Manager of the World Bank Croatia Office, stated that the Urban Partnership Program had been successfully implemented for several years in seven South East European countries focusing mainly on strengthening the capacity of local government officials, city administrators and technical staff with practical tools for decision-making to manage urban development for inclusive and sustainable growth. She emphasized that “the Conference will provide a good platform for networking and exchanging of different practices, approaches and challenges local governments are facing in the area of citizen engagement and social inclusion”.
“Austria is committed to support the region’s path to EU membership, and hereby sees its role as the promotor of reconciliation and stabilization in the region,” said Martina Klenner-Auvillain, Deputy Head of Mission at the Austrian Embassy in her opening address. She further emphasized that urban development is key to this success, as it is one of key areas of strategic partnerships. There is no modernization without urban development, and the UPP provides space for constructive dialogue in these times of global challenges.
During the two-day conference, participants had an opportunity to learn more about good practices and challenges for socially inclusive citizen engagement and innovative, participatory tools of governance, including ICT tools used for integrating citizen’s voice. This event provided a platform for disseminating the findings of the UPP Social Sustainability and Citizen Engagement initiative and sharing approaches to improving collaborative government in a socially-inclusive and participatory manner and strengthening integrity of public services.

Keynote speaker, Mr. Fredrik Galtung, CEO of Integrity Action, spoke about the key ingredients to creating a culture of integrity in public services. It requires to put the power of feedback in the hands of the communities and beneficiaries, to build trust between key stakeholders, to create positive feedback loops and to make services more sustainable and resilient. Without integrity, measures to safeguard human rights, protect the environment, strengthen democracy, promote social equity and reduce poverty are compromised. In the absence of integrity, the corrupt flourish.

Nine cities across the region who had participated in the Social Sustainability and Citizen Engagement Initiative of the second phase of the UPP showcased their developed City Action Plans, e.g. the Deputy Mayor of Gjilan, Rexhep Kadriu, introduced the city’s plan to transform the municipal website into an “interactive forum” for citizens, which aims to activate citizen’s participation. Among others, the Deputy Mayor of Elbasan, Klevis Xhoxhi, presented their devised “Roadmap on Local Government Participatory Practices,” a toolkit that is designed to contribute to the ability of municipal officials to initiate or strengthen existing participatory practices in their own communities and to develop partnerships between municipal governments and marginalized groups for ensuring social inclusiveness. Afterwards the conference participants were asked to gather in groups to discuss the cities’ visions and to come up with inputs on how a city action plan can best be implemented, monitored and with whom a city can possibly partner in this process.

Speakers from across the region and beyond provided food for thought in discussing together the importance of citizen engagement on the road to transparency and accountability. Participants had the opportunity to learn about good examples for strengthening social sustainability and empowering citizens. For example, from the City of Rijeka, which is the only City in Croatia that provides on its website an interactive game “Budgeting(me)” where citizens can create a budget with real figures of the existing budget; or from the Citizen Service Centers in Pancevo, that provide easy and equal access to public services for all parts of the population. Further, the Mayor of Pregrada, Marko Vesligaj, shared the city’s experiences with a crowdfunding project that successfully used ICT-based tools for raising money to finance a kindergarten. Conference participants listened with interest to the presentation on the Albanian Model for Citizen Centric Service and the Macedonian-wide project on the improvement of municipal services.
In a highly interactive round table on ICT mechanisms, Mayor of Tuzla, Jasmin Imamovic, Mayor of Gramsh, Luljeta Dollani, the Deputy Mayor of Krizevci, Tomislav Katanovic and the PR Advisor from City of Pancevo, Jasmina Radovanovic discussed the challenges and opportunities on implementing ICT tools in their respective cities and municipalities.

Representatives of Local Government Associations in the SEE region shared their views in a panel discussion on building partnerships and measuring results. All panelists highlighted the importance of partnerships e.g. between city administration, civil society, the business sector and academia to better tackle municipal challenges.

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Agenda SSCE Conference Zagreb

Day 1:

Citizen Engagement - City of Rijeka
Citizen Engagement - City of Tuzla
Citizen-Centric Service Delivery - Albanian Model
City Action Plan - Elbasan
CIty Action Plan - Gjilan
City Action Plan - Kumanovo
City Action Plan - Sabac
Crowdfunding in the City of Pregrada
Effective Citizen Serivce Centers
Keynote Integrity Building
MFSA overview
Pancevo Citizen Service Center
Public consultations in local government in Croatia
STRENGTHENING ACCOUNTABILITY AND IMPROVING TRANSPARENCY - THE EXPERIENCE OF MSIP

Day 2:

Digital Transofrmation and e-services - City of Krizevci
Gramsh - The ICT challege and opportunity

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Workshops

Nis, Serbia, June 21-22 2018

Under the Urban Partnership Program, a first workshop on the topic of participatory planning/placemaking was held on June 21-22, 2018 in Niš for Serbia’s three largest cities Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš. Participants, mainly urban planners, architects, local economic development officers, young professionals/academics and Civil Society Organizations, including representatives from the local government association of Serbia and the Ministry of Construction, Infrastructure and Transport, joined together to learn about the potentials of placemaking, tactical urbanism, and people centered/participatory urban planning tools and techniques. The workshop was designed and delivered in collaboration with Roland Krebs and Kerstin Pluch, urban planners/academics from the Vienna University of Technology, Austria and superwien.

The workshop introduced the methodology of placemaking as a useful planning technique for activating public and central open spaces. Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. It is a creative platform to engage different stakeholders into the planning processes, gather ideas and involve citizens and local businesses in the collective development of urban projects.

The Serbian cities of Novi Sad, Belgrade and Niš all have rivers that dominate the urban landscape of these central areas. However, the public spaces around these rivers are not properly articulated in the urban fabric and have a huge potential that can be activated by the municipalities through a collaborative planning approach. The cities expressed great interest in developing the rivers and making more use of these public spaces, especially for walking, cycling, recreational activities and, in general, spending more free time in different spaces around river fronts.

On the first day of the workshop, the participants had the opportunity to hear about the planning process - the background, history, future, techniques, and to go through a casestudy of the city of Niš as a basis for the walk-on sessions that followed. During the working sessions, the participants were ready to put into action the principles of the Placemaking methodology and with the Walkshop mapping they identified the potentials and problems of the Nišava riverfront. During the second part of the day participants learned more about Urban Design lab and its tool-box, as well as different success stories from Vienna, Skopje, and cities from Latin America. In continuation of the case study, the participants developed a comprehensive SWOT analysis and engaged in Emotional mapping. An extensive list of opportunities and potential areas of development was created, as well as a very thorough Social cartography illustration of perception, with a detailed map of possible intervention areas.

During day two of the workshop, participants were introduced to several more interesting case studies and had the opportunity to continue with applying additional techniques to their case study. The integral scenario working session focused on using all the data gathered during day one and putting it into a vision for the Nišava riverfront. Lastly, the Role play session produced possible insights in potential stakeholders’ perspectives on different activation scenarios. It was very helpful and interesting to see how different stakeholders like students, retirees, small and large business owners, women and local architects may react to different outcomes and ideas for the riverfront space activation.

The workshop in Niš generated great interest and a demand for follow-ups from all three cities. The most useful and easily applicable parts for the participants were collective brainstorming and dialogue between different cities, idea and suggestion sharing among participants and innovative approaches. Concrete ideas were created during workshop such as development of an urban plan for removing the car market from the city center, solutions for urban mobility, and a more inclusive approach to urban planning. This is why UPP plans to continue with follow up workshops in Novi Sad and Belgrade that will not only focus on other cities and create further exchange, but will also bring into action additional placemaking concepts and techniques and participatory planning methods, and be more practical in form and focus on river activation and design, as well as implementation.


Documents:
Agenda Placemaking Workshop Nis, June 2018.doc
Urban Design Lab Handbook.pdf
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop_Nis_Summary Report.pdf
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop_Nis.pdf
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop_Nisava workshop SymbioCity Living Nis.pdf
WB_UPP_Placemaking Workshop_Nis_Presentation_Nisava workshop.pdf


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