Equi-City – towards more equitable cities

Equi-City is a pioneering project to enhance inclusiveness. The first of its kind, the project is intended to increase capacity building of everyone involved in the process from lower rung to the highest. We are working on every layer of the governance to ensure that an equitable system of services is ensured. This is going to be a model of governance in the days to come.

The main aim of the Equi-City project is promoting inclusive and sustainable growth of Indian cities through collaborative multi-stakeholder approach using participatory governance between local authorities and stakeholders to ensure equitable provision of municipal services, which would be achieved through set diverse activities. The project is directly in line with capacity development of Local Authorities (LA) and diversity. It addresses all actions required to mobilise resources, accountability, diversity, and sharing of knowledge and best practices.
The Equi-City project has a core element of capacity building wherein officials are capacitated and sensitised and honed to become leaders and tackle specialised issued faced by the target cities to ensure equitable service delivery. The capacity building programme will be developed by engaging with the stakeholders (CDF) through interactive participatory sessions and strengthened by research. The project advocates for diversity in the work place while ensuring future human resources policies promote equitable and merit based opportunities. The project consists of setting up of Diversity Committees within LA organisation and help create Diversity and Equality Policy Framework, which will act as a base for ensuring diversity in the future. Diversity Committees will also act as a forum for grievance redressal. The project also sets up monitoring and implementation mechanisms to ensure accountability and transparency in delivery of municipal services, using tools that create a demand pull by citizens and supply push by local authorities. Towards the end, the project will develop and implement a Citizen based Municipal Rating System. Efforts will be made to encourage widespread adoption of the rating system in other cities. The project will develop the monitoring and implementation tools from a menu of relevant information technology (IT)/non-IT based solutions. The project ensures that all the relevant information and best practices reach the stakeholders and municipal officials located in target cities. The project also focuses on real-time information dissemination using technology based and non-web-based tools. The project ensures that poor urban dwellers are sensitised and updated on their request for and delivery of municipal services. An Urban Update newsletter will be sent out to various stakeholders to highlight the various initiatives and ensure accountability and transparency in operations, including initiatives.
In this background, it is worth mentioning that the first year of the Project focused on establishing the Participatory Forum i.e., the City Development Forum (CDF), organising Zone level sensitisation workshops on sanitation and municipal services, conducting the diversity survey for the Nagpur Municipal Corporation and conducting the Training Needs Assessment (TNA). Following these the second year focused on formation of Diversity Committee and formulation of Training Policy, increasing the technical capacity of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation Employees through various Training Workshops (10), developing the Monitoring and Evaluation Research framework for developing M&E Tools, etc.
Equi-City Project is also in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water & Sanitation) and 11 (Sustainable Cities & Communities). January 2016marked the official launch of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted universally in 2015 by all 193 member countries of the United Nations. The 2030 Agenda calls on countries to commence efforts to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the following 15 years.
SDGs explicitly acknowledge the significant role that cities play in the interest of sustainable development through Goal 11, which aims to ‘make cities and human settlements inclusive, secure, resilient and sustainable’. However, cities will play a vital part in the execution of the entirety of the 2030 Agenda as all of the SDGs contain targets that will demand local action.

Cities have the intent to generate new modes and advanced solutions for the implementation of sustainable development initiatives.At the same time, cities require support to address barriers in terms of capabilities, financing, administration, access to appropriate and affordable technologies. Sharing best practices among cities will be critical to maximise the impact of the SDGs and create a more sustainable future for all.

The New Urban Agenda, which was agreed upon at the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador during 17-20 October, 2016 offers a new model of urbanization in response to the challenges of rapid urban growth and specifically acknowledges local authorities as key partners in shaping the global agenda.

There are ten targets for SDG#11 that start to unpack the SDG’s meaning and philosophy, and also imply actual measures of progress:
• By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
• By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
• By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanisation and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage
• By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations
• By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
• 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. Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
• By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels
• Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials

A key focus of Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda is equity and social inclusion. By ensuring equity in opportunities and services, as well as fair distribution of society’s benefits and burdens, states and local actors advance social and urban development in line with human rights, and give individuals the chance to live to their full potential.
Through projects like Equi-City, the Government of India, state governments and urban local bodies are working hard to transform India’s cities for the better. India’s cities continue to grow. Unless this massive development is planned and made sustainable, the costs will be enormous, especially for the urban poor.The urban poor are the most vulnerable to current climate variability, such as regular floods and water deficits. Investments in new city infrastructure offers a tremendous opportunity to build sustainable and resilient cities using less energy and water. India, unlike other emerging economies, still has tremendous choices about how it can arise along a sustainable growth route. Choices in housing, energy and public transport could reap massive local and global benefits over decades: the right choices will save water, energy and carbon, and improve health and quality of life.

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