Innovative practices of inclusive urban development and poverty reduction

The project “Innovative practices of inclusive urban development” is a collaborative initiative among the University of Winnipeg, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - Manitoba, through the Manitoba Research Alliance, UN Habitat, the Huairou Commission and the KIP International School, with the support of the International Development Research Centre of Canada.

It aims to develop material for use in policy forums and as educational material for university teaching and professional development related to inclusive urban development and poverty reduction. The project intends to support the systematization (in the form of case studies, short videos, manuals, teaching units or other forms) of innovative experiences of urban development that have fostered inclusive, equitable and sustainable urban spaces and have empowered poor people from which lessons for future actions and policies can be derived.

The project will give priority to experiences and key practices that have not yet been systematized and documented and that can contribute to knowledge creation and to developing tools for those practically engaged in local development in different contexts. Ten such experiences will receive a research grant of 2,000 CAD each intended to support the systematization process.

Urban poverty, often concentrated in the inner areas or peripheries of major urban centres, is a problem in a variety of developmental and cultural contexts. Traditional strategies of addressing urban poverty have largely been through the provision of a series of disparate and fragmented services, each aimed at one dimension of the visible effect of the problem such as low income, low employment, lack of housing, homelessness, lack of access to services, violence, low rates of education, and so on, and most often through assistance-based approaches.  In general, the overall effect of these approaches has done little to eradicate poverty or to address its underlying causes. 

Indeed, the international debate around the post 2015 development agenda is increasingly focused on the structural issues of equity and inclusion, particularly in the urban context where the majority of the world’s population lives. Lack of equality of opportunity, social exclusion and insecurity are increasingly understood as barriers to achieving human development and overcoming poverty. The main theme of the seventh World Urban Forum is “urban equity in development”, highlighting this new focus. The Forum will seek to identify ways to operationalize this new conceptual framework through governance mechanisms, policies, technical tools and operational methodologies at local, national and international levels.

In practice, however, innovative approaches to addressing poverty and inequality are being experimented with great success in many cities around the world. These range from participatory urban planning processes, women’s safety audits, community development initiatives, local economic development and social economy initiatives, community housing schemes, urban agriculture, schemes for urban waste management and green energy production and many others. Many of these experiences are led by energetic grassroots women’s groups, community organizations and local government bodies. The challenge is to build on these individual success stories to identify more comprehensive solutions.

There are many barriers, however, that these local groups face in their struggle to scale up their actions, gain recognition, influence public opinion, orient policy and spending, influence academic teaching and transform practice. 

The project “Innovative practices of inclusive urban development and poverty reduction” intends to support the systematization and dissemination of these practices and policies, both through their presentation during a networking event during the Seventh World Urban Forum that will take place in April 2014 in Medellin, Colombia and through the publication of a special thematic issue of the electronic international journal: Universitas Forum ( .

The project will support the documentation of a number of experiences, tools and methodologies through which cities are planned and developed and how these have addressed urban poverty and its underlying causes. We are particularly interested in issues such as housing, infrastructure, safety, education and culture, work and employment, local and community economic development, access to services, recreation, green spaces and other aspects that are central to creating inclusive and sustainable urban spaces. We are particularly interested in the learning about the process through which decisions on the actions to be undertaken was made and the role played by women, youth, indigenous groups, immigrants or other marginalized groups.

It will document experiences that could be adapted to other developmental contexts with similar challenges, contribute to policy formation at different levels and help to expand existing networks to share and exchange knowledge and practices in the future, thus building on individual and sectoral successes to define more complex and comprehensive potential solutions. 

Project highlights

Important achievement for ZPHCA in Zimbabwe through the support of Universitas Forum

In 2014, together with the University of Winnipeg, the Huairou Commission and other Canadian and international actors, the Universitas programme of the KIP International School launched a project ... more

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