The purpose of this session is to highlight the important role that civil society plays in building great cities. Civil society can work with communities and help them to understand the changes that are needed in our cities. Civil society can work with governments to encourage them to adopt policies that benefit the most vulnerable. Our event will use a moderated session format to discuss the role of civil society in city building using public spaces as an example. The format is as follows:
1. Introductory remarks by moderator – 3 minutes
- Aims of the session, link to the NUA and SDG
2. Keynote presentation – 7 minutes
- Creating an understanding of community engagement, role of civil society, and public spaces as a tool engaging local communities
3. Case study presentations – 3 X 7 minutes that will highlight the ways civil society engages local communities:
- Community engagement in public space development in Hoian, Vietnam
- Advocacy for policy changes to create vehicle free zones in South Asia.
- Working towards national public space policy in Africa
4. Moderated discussion among panelists and participants – 20 minutes
5. Summary and Close (5 minutes). Community participation is a key principle of the New Urban Agenda and the Habitat III process. This side event will provide practical examples of local governments to actively involve both civil society and community in developing public spaces for themselves. Panelists will be asked to help identify priority areas to ensure civil society and community participation is addressed through advances in ensuring sustainable urban public spaces. Participants and panelists will collaboratively consider ways local government can facilitate participation and involve civil society in accordance with recommendations from the New Urban Agenda. Public spaces play a key role in achieving safe, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities and have been identified as target 7 under SDG 11: 'By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.' In addition, Public spaces have the potential to contribute to several other development goals including SDG3 (health; through reducing NCD risk factors and road traffic deaths), SDG13 (climate action; through reducing carbon emissions), SDG 8 (economic growth; through providing the physical space necessary for the poor to earn a living), SDG 5 (gender equality; through protecting jobs for women at public markets and ensuring safety of women and girls in well-designed public space).