|Ms Patricia Chaves - Espaço Feminista (Brazil), Dr Suresh Rohilla – CSE (India), Ms Angela Eaton, Sherwood Institute (USA) and Ms Angela Oduor Lungati - Ushahidi (Kenya) – from left to right in photograph,
Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Programme Director was invited panelist on session ‘The Urban Multiplier Effect: Community Building through Resilient and Inclusive Infrastructure’ held on 14th April 2015 – at a side event at UN Habitat 3 Prepcom 2 at Nairobi.
The session was in response to United Nations Habitat III Executive Director, Joan Closi Matheu’s call to provide a concrete set of recommendations related to designing and planning infrastructure for the urban environment. Invited panelist related experiences and successes in the practical application of sustainable infrastructure to powerful effect in their communities.
The concrete set of recommendations were discussed related to designing and planning infrastructure for the urban environment for a positive effect on urban water equity, access to nature and cities’ response to rapid urbanization and environmental stress.
The panel discussed how distributed, community-derived, micro-scale implementation strategies decrease urban environmental stress, increase the benefits of public space and lead to empowerment for vulnerable populations through equitable access to water. The group asserted that sustainable infrastructure should be prioritized in the New Urban Agenda being developed in UN Habitat 3 Prepcom 2.
Recommendations made during the discussion –
• Develop a repository of best practices to allow for information sharing on implementation and successful policy support of sustainable infrastructure techniques
• Identify and support good governance practices that need to be in place to make successful policy viable
• Emphasize South-South discussion and knowledge sharing
• Identify opportunities for South-to-North knowledge transfer
• Support sustainable infrastructure techniques that scale to rapid urban growth
• Determine how state facilitation can engender economic and policy support for community based sustainable infrastructure practices
• Support policies and infrastructure that recharge aquifers
• Support technologies that play a positive role in community resource ownership, allow for greater government-citizen interaction and government transparency, promote community self-organization and allow for greater ability to provide public commentary / interaction on municipal decision making.
• Build and fund community capacity models for women to participate in development of sustainable infrastructure at the local/regional/national levels
• Local authorities should develop decision making systems that are responsive and interactive to communities, women and the poor including enhanced transparency, inclusion and publicly available information in all parts of policy and decision making processes.
• Formally recognize and protect positive sustainable infrastructure measures that are primarily used by the poor (e.g. decentralised waste management, trash picking and rain water harvesting).
• Recognize enduring value of sustainable infrastructure techniques and not merely a stop-gap until centralized infrastructure is put in place.
The event generated significant discussion on practice and implementation successes for panel and audience members. Multiple participants continued their discussion on how to further good governance in support of sustainable infrastructure with each other. Several audience members brought these thoughts to working groups meetings and conversations with their organizations.
Other speakers at the session included Ms Angela Oduor Lungati - Director of Community Engagement, Ushahidi (Kenya), Ms Patricia Chaves - Executive Director, Espaço Feminista (Brazil) and Ms Angela Eaton – Executive Director, Sherwood Institute (USA).