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Collaborative Workshop on “Inclusive Cities Partnership Programme”

During the first two weeks for April, 2013, a joint Appraisal Mission was conducted to shape the new programme “Inclusive Cities Partnership” (working title) with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation in the lead. It was conducted as a part of the Indo-German bilateral cooperation. The appraisal mission team consisted of national and international experts.

School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, a collaborator of GIZ, hosted a workshop on April 4, 2013, as a part of this Mission. Discussions were held on what constitutes an inclusive city and the various challenges towards that goal in the Indian urban context. The intent was to elicit a wide variety of opinions so as to highlight the key issues and questions in this area. It was attended by various practitioners and scholars from the urban sector, faculty members from different departments and students of the institute, the mission members as well as officials from GIZ.

Prof Chetan Vaidya, Director, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, welcomed the participants and set the theme of the workshop. Dr. Regina Dube, Senior Advisor & Head, GIZ-SUH, then informed about GIZ’s engagement in the urban sector of India. She emphasised that such deliberations would serve as a linkage between academia and practice.

The workshop was conducted in two sessions. The first session started with the introduction of the participants. Then each of them briefly outlined the nature of their engagement with the city and the key challenges to inclusion, as perceived by her or him. It was moderated by Dr. Dube.

Some of the challenges identified by the participants:

  • Lack of long-term vision, political will and convergence with respect to inclusive urban planning
  • Inclusion is always region specific – include whom and to what extent?
  • Lack of a structured process to supervise inclusive growth and conflict resolution
  • Time as well as financial constraints as Asian cities have been growing at an alarming rate
  • Lack of institutional memory and need for knowledge management
  • Weak  understanding of the informal – livelihood, economy, planning – makes it difficult to include in the formal processes
  • Contradiction between (the understanding of) the policy framework and the way in which it is implemented at the local level
  • Planning tools like mapping, socio-economic data, etc are only means to identify the prospects

The second session continued with discussions focusing on the broad themes as identified by the participants in the opening round and was moderated by Mr. Partha Mukhapadhyay, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Research.

Following questions were directed at the participants:

Participation at what stage? What kind of participation required? What are the final outcomes of participation? Any tangible change/result that participation results in?

The participants commented that participation with relevant knowledge and framework is necessary in order to make it meaningful. It is a process, rather than an activity and empowerment is necessary to facilitate participation. The capacity to respond in order to include concerns pertaining to large scale participation is necessary. But that does not necessarily indicate that participation is to include the opinion of the poor/under-privileged. As people having better knowledge would always gate-keep the process, it would always require effective management and momentum.

Two important aspects, environment (resources) and gender, did not figure in the discussions. Although both have implicit reference in all the formal planning processes, yet, the participants agreed that there is no tangible impact/outcome that could be seen. It was acknowledged that environment is a ticking time bomb for the city – if not addressed now, there could be negative repercussions. And capacity enhancement should include gender perspective across all sectors of the governance structure.

At the end, Mr. Martin Dirr, mission team leader, GIZ, Germany, thanked the participants for their inputs. He stated that the discussions provided with greater insights to the issues related to urban poor and formal planning processes and said that would be a challenging task for the Mission to come up with a sensible proposal for the new programme.