URBAN THINKERS CAMPUS, KOLKATA
Towards the implementation of new urban agenda
The inaugural Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) was organized in October 2014 on the theme ‘The City We Need’, in the City of Caserta, Italy. The UTC in Caserta was acknowledged by participants as a model to pursue for further debates in order to bring partners around the table to negotiate principles, policies, and action planning on key issues that need to be addressed at the Habitat III Conference and built up in the New Urban Agenda. Simultaneously, the WUC initiated the General Assembly of Partners (GAP) in Caserta in October 2014. The GAP was established as an interim deliberative devise for partners to contribute to the Habitat III process. The UTC model is an initiative of UN-Habitat’s World Urban Campaign, conceived in 2014 as an open space for critical exchange between all stakeholders and partners aims to promote sustainable urbanization. It is also envisaged as a platform to advocate enlightened planning and design of our cities and propose urban solutions in addressing urbanization challenges to urban futures.
Following the World Urban Campaign Steering Committee’s instruction, from 29 June 2015 to 20 February 2016, a series of 26 Urban Thinkers Campuses were organized around the framework of The City We Need 2.0. engaging 7,847 men and women from 124 countries and 2,137 organizations, representing fourteen constituent groups: Local and Subnational Authorities, Research and Academia, Civil Society Organizations, Grassroots Organizations, Women, Parliamentarians, Children and youth, Business and industries, Foundations and Philanthropies, Professionals, Trade Unions and Workers, Farmers, Indigenous people and the Media. Using the outcome reports from all 26 UTCs, the World Urban Campaign Drafting Committee developed and launched The City We Need 2.0 on 12 March 2016. This new paradigm was the main contribution of World Urban Campaign partners to the New Urban Agenda, the main outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which was held in Quito/Ecuador in October 2016.
The City We Need 2.0 has been translated into all 6 United Nations languages, to be disseminated widely and to be used as a reference document for all stakeholders and governments dealing with housing and sustainable urban development.
With a majority of world’s population living in urban centers, and the continuous expansion of cities into the surrounding rural areas, it becomes urgent and critical to look into human settlements through the lens of sustainability and equity. The New Urban Agenda further complements Goal 11 of SDGs 2015, in terms of providing a vision of how sustainable cities should actually be and contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in an integrated manner. However, a critical look into most of the ambitious urban development programmes/schemes reveal that priorities are extremely skewed, and do not address the needs and aspirations of the citizens, especially the most vulnerable. Hence, it becomes essential to engage with people’s groups/constituencies to facilitate an imagination based on their own vision and to make sure that their ideas and demands determine the design and function of their city. In alignment with the new urban agenda, the UTC on “The people’s vision of the city” would help us envision, plan and manage cities with participation of all the citizens, to best promote sustainable and inclusive urbanization.
The major objectives of the Campus are as follows:
- Create platform/s for dialoguing and deliberations amongst different constituencies on the principles and implementation of New Urban Agenda for a sustainable and inclusive urbanization
- Create a consensus amongst constituencies for implementation of the NUA based on people’s demands and aspirations
- Integrate the voices and demands of the most vulnerable sections living in a city (e.g. single women, children, youth, elderly, mentally and physically challenged, minority, informal labour and urban poor) into the planning process of the city, and try to arrive at roles and commitments of various stakeholders.
In this background Citizen's Rights Collective, a knowledge activist hub of ActionAid India, is planning to organise Urban Thinkers’ Campus in Kolkata, India, from 11th to 13th of September 2017. In those three days people from different social groups will participate to envision the city they need. While school children will participate in the campus to draw attention towards the city they need through art and painting, college going youth will debate on a safe and healthy Kolkata. On the last day, a roundtable will also be organised on the issue of Kolkata's precarious waste management seeking to find a solution to this menace.
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