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 Participatory engagement of citizens from all walks of life could lead toward sustainable cities.
 Participatory engagement of citizens from all walks of life could lead toward sustainable cities.

Sustainable Urban Change Envisioned

The aim is to sensitize people towards urban issues as well as encourage urban decision makers to enable citizens’ participation in curbing urban problems

Sustainable Urban Change Envisioned

The compilation of the book ‘The City Iranians Need’ by the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) in Iran is completed, and the English version of the book is also available on the UN website.
The project is part of ‘Iran’s National Urban Campaign’ (INUC) which is a local version of the World Urban Campaign (WUC), an advocacy and partnership platform to raise awareness about positive urban change in order to achieve green, productive, safe, healthy, inclusive, and well planned cities, reports un.org.ir.
Its goal is to place the Urban Agenda at the highest level in development policies. It is coordinated by UN-Habitat and driven by a large number of committed partners - currently 136 partners and networks - from around the world.
In cooperation with the National Land and Housing Organization affiliated to the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, INUC was launched in October 2015 on the occasion of World Habitat Day (observed globally on the first Monday of October every year), as reported by unhabitat.org.ir.
The book is a vision plan prepared through voluntarily contributions of more than 1,000 citizens from 48 cities across Iran and 10 organizations representing 12 constituent groups including women and men, youth and children, aging populations, and people with disabilities, research and academia, civil society organizations, grassroots organizations, social activists, artists, urban professionals, and the media.
“It is evident that people’s aspirations for their cities and urban life are fundamental to good urban management, something that urban planners respect,” Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development Hamidreza Azimian’s says in the book’s foreword.
“Today we have the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal II of the SDGs makes cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, and is directly linked to cities where 60% of sustainable development targets will be pursued and realized by citizens.”
Noting that the INUC has reminded authorities that problems would only be resolved if solutions come from those who have themselves been subject to the problems, Azimian says participatory engagement of citizens from all walks of life could lead Iran toward sustainable cities.
  Three-Step Process
The book is the result of a three-stage process: data gathering (collecting people’s ideas, recommendations and solutions on urban problems through surveys, interactive website and social networks, interviews, people workshops and NGOs) from October 2015 to April 2016;  processing the received data through ten sessions of Urban Dialogue organized by UN-Habitat Iran from April  to August 2016 (engaging 20 young urban thinkers from various fields such as urbanism, architecture, geography, environment,  political science, economics, climatology, sociology, entrepreneurship, and agricultural engineering); and reaching consensus in September 2016 by involving three groups: people, urban decision makers and decision takers.
INUC shares Iranians’ vision with the world in the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). This vision builds on what INUC, as a national platform for WUC, received from ideas, recommendations, and solutions from Iranians towards the future they want.
The eight interrelated principles underlying the book were defined based on common concepts driven from people’s solutions and ideas.
They envision the city Iranians need as one that values heritage and welcomes modernity; is safe, secure, well-connected, and accessible and is efficiently connected to rural areas keeping regional balance.
“It is also economically sustainable, just, and attractive with inclusive growth; is green, energy-efficient, and sound for all beings; speaks to citizens and hears their voice.”
Additionally, the target city is habitable, equitable, and life-giving, and is emotionally rich and fosters spirituality.
By preparing the book, INUC has aimed at sensitizing people towards urban issues as well as encouraging urban decision makers to enable citizens’ participation in curbing urban problems.
The book also introduces five drivers of change that would play significant roles in leading towards sustainable urban change. They comprise public awareness, governance, economics, knowledge and technology, and urban planning/designing. Each driver is extensively defined and explicated in the book.
INUC invites all Iranian decision makers and the community at large to consider this common vision driven by principles and drivers of change in order to change their cities for a sustainable future.

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