Engaging stakeholders in making cities work

IHS is developing courses on engaging a broad range of stakeholders in processes of inclusive and sustainable spatial urban transformation.

Beyond experiencing urban space: engaging in urban planning processes

Urban spatial transformation processes are vital in realising sustainable development. What happens where impacts how much and what kind of resources we use; it affects our access to employment or education, and it influences how we experience and live our daily lives. People who are living, working or visiting a city experience (and influence) urban space, but only a few are actively engaged in analysing how urban systems function spatially and why, or in consciously strategising how they can function better. IHS has therefore developed a training concept that is being implemented in different contexts together with partners.

Challenges in Lebanese cities: Building capacity to upscale citizen participation

In Lebanese cities, there is a lack of access to public space: there is not enough public space, public space is inaccessible, not inclusive, or it does not have sufficient (spatial) quality.

NAHNOO is a research and advocacy platform rallying volunteers across Lebanon to work towards an inclusive society through advocacy campaigns that promote: Good Governance, Public Spaces, and Cultural Heritage. NAHNOO works on mobilising the public by engaging them in participatory research and advocacy and making them aware about the importance of playing a role in shaping their cities; this is concerned with what happens where and also how it could be improved. In practice, this is often challenging. Many citizens lack basic knowledge about urban planning regulations, face challenges while reading a map and find it hard to express how they would like their cities to be.



Despite its successes in mobilising citizens, NAHNOO also experiences challenges, particularly in terms of upscaling. NAHNOO has a large group of volunteers, but only a small group of experts who have the knowledge and skills for engaging with citizens, raising their voice in and for urban planning processes, promoting more inclusive cities and improved access to and quality of public space. In order to create participatory urban visions, lobby and raise public awareness on the importance of inclusive cities it is vital that NAHNOO strengthens the capacity and expertise of advocacy groups in several Lebanese cities and engages with the local community in those cities. Ideally, a large group of stakeholders, experts or not, are engaged and play an active role in analysing the interlinked spatial and social challenges in Lebanese cities and in developing ideas together to address them.

NAHNOO has partnered with the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) based in the Netherlands and the Lebanese Notre Dame University- Louaize (NDU) based in Zouk Mosbeh. IHS and NDU, with input from the Veldacademie (Field Academy) of Rotterdam, are implementing a Training of Trainers (ToT) programme that is developed in partnership with NAHNOO and with funding from the Dutch Orange Knowledge Programme of Nuffic.

The ToT focuses on developing the capacity to engage with citizens in urban planning processes and to keep citizens engaged, also when processes take longer, or when there are disappointments. It is structured in 4 modules of +/- 1 week; module 1 focuses on analysing key issues, module 2 on developing a shared vision and project intervention ideas and module 3 on prioritising and linking ideas together into a strategy, in module 4 we will co-create a tool-kit that is suitable for going through the strategy development cycle in Lebanese cities.

Challenges in Dutch cities: Developing integrative spatial visions in multi-stakeholder arrangements

In Dutch cities, there is an increased developmental and legal need to develop integrative spatial visions for certain areas that are based on the input of various stakeholders. An example is the city of Rotterdam. The number of people residing in Rotterdam is growing quickly, which results in a housing shortage. Therefore, the city is developing new housing projects in partnership with developers among others, while it has to deal at the same time with contemporary challenges and opportunities related to energy transition, (un)employment, economic reform, changing mobility patterns, etc.

In order to address such issues, analyse them and prepare a (spatial) vision on how to deal with the challenges and opportunities in multi-stakeholder arrangements, it is essential that there is a basic shared knowledge base among those stakeholders. However, in reality, this is often missing.

Therefore, the Veldacademie (Field Academy) and IHS partnered and are developing a course with and for the municipality of Rotterdam that consist of 3 modules of 2 days each. Module 1 focuses on analysing key issues spatially, module 2 on developing a shared vision and project intervention ideas and module 3 on prioritising and linking ideas together into a strategy.

More information

Are you interested in this course? For more information, you can contact Saskia Ruijsink or Els Keunen.

Author: Saskia Ruijsink

Photo credit: Etienne Boulanger 

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