Key Lessons for CSUDP from WUF9

The ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) has concluded with attendees from 185 countries adopting the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Cities 2030. The Civil Society Urban Development Platform (CSUDP) was part of the Kenya delegation that attended the WUF9 and hence party to the declaration. CSUDP’s participation was particularly hinged on the NUA principle of ‘leaving no one behind’, loosely interpreted in our context as seamless integration of the poor and vulnerable into the core urban fabric.

 Within this interpretation, CSUDP promotes a three-facet transformational logic that transcends from information (power of knowledge), coordination (power of people) and mobilization (power of institutions). CSUDP rides on the belief that an informed and knowledgeable society has better possibilities to work together in realizing their common aspirations supported by institutions built on a foundation of good governance. Going into WUF9, CSUDP carried lessons from a formidable constituency of over 3,500 CSOs spread in 21 Counties of Kenya where evidence of success exists in the three facets of its intervention logic, to exchange and draw alternative lessons from actors in different parts of the globe.

Key Lessons from WUF9

  1. The Kuala Lumpur declaration calls on member states to formulate National Implementation Frameworks for the New Urban Agenda Agenda that provides for coordinated participation of all stakeholders - Kenya is a pioneer in this regard having launched its national implementation framework in May 2017 during the 26th session of UNHABITAT's Governing Council (GC26) held in Gigiri, Nairobi. The framework, expressly identifies CSUDP as an implementing partner under the good governance pillar. As such, CSUDP has embraced two approaches in promoting innovative governance (1) citizens empowerment (through Local Urban Forums (LUFs)) and (2) institutional influence (through the Urban Boards Non-state Agencies (UBNA)) that  are highly relevant and efforts should be made to harmonize the performance indicators with the national framework to ensure appropriate measure and reporting.
  2. The declaration also recognizes national and local urban forums as inclusive platforms for dialogue and that can also be used to foster exchange of experiences and cooperation from all partners - the Local Urban Forums (LUFs) established through the support of CSUDP signify a unique effort towards urban dialoguing. CSUDP has made initial attempts to diversify the representation of the LUFs so that they are more inclusive with the aim of achieving the citizen’s forum as envisaged through UACA (2011) section 22. 
  3. In terms of governance and partnerships, the Kuala Lumpur declaration recommends adoption of multiple governance mechanisms that actively engage all levels of government (national, sub-national and local) as well as all stakeholders including the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups as a means to promote buy-in and co-responsibility towards sustainable urban development. The declaration also recommends that solutions that foster a culture of creativity and innovation be embedded in the way cities and human settlements operate. While CSUDP may not have sufficient latitude in this area, we posit that this should be fully embraced and facilitated within the spirit of devolution in Kenya, where CSOs co-responsibility towards sustainable urban development is promoted in advancement of the principle of leaving no one behind. Lessons can drawn from the various exchanges on innovative financing for basic services as well as mechanisms for harnessing the inherent ‘wealth’ of the urban citizenry is important reference point in this pursuit. In addition, the framework of UBNA that promotes professional capacitation of the urban boards and the advisory scope of the Urban Sector Reference Group (USRG) are key entry points through which creativity can be propelled.
  4. The declaration urges member countries to develop monitoring and data collection mechanisms that includes community-generated data, to enhance the availability of information and comparable data at city, functional urban areas and community levels. Within the CSUDP partnerships, tools for community level generated data that can be applied for planning and social benefits for the most vulnerable have been tested and proven to be relatively useful. 
  5. The declaration calls on member countries to create an enabling environment and to develop capacities for scaling up good practices including municipal finance, sustainable private and public investments in urban development and job creation as well as adopt accessibility and universal design as core principles into national, sub-national and local action plans for implementing the new urban agenda. The Council of Governors has established the Maarifa Center with the purpose of identifying, promoting and rewarding best practices in sustainable urban development amongst other sectors of County development. Since most functions have now been devolved to the County level, this center remains the most relevant stage to consolidate and show-case emerging good practices. CSUDP, and the different layers of cooperating partners, especially within the UBNA and USRG framework, seeks to solidify engagement with the Maarifa center by  establishing common tools that conform to internationally recognized best practice standards for capturing emerging good practices and routinely connect these with Maarifa center.

Read full declaration here 

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