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How to Develop More Equitable Cities? ICLEI Launches a Guidebook for Urban Practitioners

How to Develop More Equitable Cities? ICLEI Launches a Guidebook for Urban Practitioners

ICLEI Circulars has launched a new practical Equitable Transitions Guidebook to help cities make sure that their urban development projects are equitable for all groups of citizens. The guidebook is based on multiple case studies from cities worldwide under the Urban Transitions Alliance project. The guide’s purpose is to provide insights, recommendations, and tools for city practitioners to understand better and unpack what social equity means at the local level. The publication is free to download.

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While collaborating with different urban regions, ICLEI developed a methodology that allows researchers to map the results of local sustainability plans and measure their social equity outcomes. For this purpose, social equity is defined along three dimensions: access, participation, and opportunity. For each measurement, the guide identifies tools and recommendations, as well as indicators to monitor progress. An initial version of this methodology was tested with the city of Turku as part of the Circular Turku project.

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A crowd of locals watch a movie at Discovery Green, Houston, TX, USA. . Image Courtesy of PPS

The first metric, access, refers to the residents’ ability to acquire resources, services, and infrastructure. This access can be limited because of the location of the residency, due to demographic factors such as age, gender, origin, language, or simply because people cannot afford it. Local governments can identify access gaps and implement targeted support measures to ensure that no individual or group is left behind. Urban planning can also ensure that physical infrastructures serve all users.


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The second dimension, participation, refers to the involvement of the residents in the process. Participation also means engaging underrepresented voices. The effort to meet local needs and generate long-term impact is best supported by programs that wot with the residents, not just for them. This can be ensured by prioritizing collaborative co-creation and by empowering existing community initiatives that are already active in sustainability.

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Domino Park is a privately-owned public space in Brooklyn, developed by real estate firm Two Trees Management. Image © Barrett Doherty

The third metric looks at the opportunities available for residents. To offer fair perspectives for all, local governments can target increased diversity in employment in public institutions, the provision of career perspectives through training and support programs, and strengthening and diversifying the local labor market.

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Sant Antoni Sunday Market by Ravetllat Ribas Arquitectos. Image © Adria Goula

For each dimension, the guidebook provides practical tools and assets for local governments. This is intended to help them map social risks and opportunities and learn about key aspects to consider when designing sustainability programs. The equity-focused content published in the guidebook is grounded into cities’ practice and features over 30 concrete examples from around the world. From Glasgow’s Place Standard tool to Baltimore’s methodology to identify healthy food priority areas, the guidebook offers many replicable tools for your city to start planning sustainability programs with a strong social equity focus.

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Superkilen by Topotek 1 + BIG Architects + Superflex. Image © Torben Eskerod

The “Equitable transitions guidebook: Local tools for fair and inclusive sustainability programs” compiled these learnings and was released at the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) during a dedicated Training on Local tools for a fair and inclusive transition.

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Cite: Maria-Cristina Florian. "How to Develop More Equitable Cities? ICLEI Launches a Guidebook for Urban Practitioners" 05 Aug 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/986629/how-to-develop-more-equitable-cities-iclei-launches-a-guidebook-for-urban-practitioners> ISSN 0719-8884

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