Translating the Spirit of the New Urban Agenda to Our Mechanisms of Work

Diana Kinya, Nairobi Community Manager
Nairobi, 5 October 2016

A wide range of participants have for the last two years engeged in regional and thematic high level meetings to debate priorities and policy reccomendations for the final declaration of the New Urban Agenda. This has involved a myriad of activities at the city level, regional level, and international level from the first precom event in the US to the event in Surabaya where the final document was drafted. However According to Mr. George Wasonga the CEO of the Civil Society Urban Development Platform (CSUDP) and the convener of the Kenyan Civil Society Habitat III Caucus, of most importance to cities is the post-Quioto plans that ensure translation of the document’s philosophy to our work and remain on track in implimenting its commitments. We spoke to Mr Wasonga on how the New Urban Agenda can be implimented in Nairobi city.

What is your opinion on the just concluded New Urban Agenda Document?

We are very excited to read and listen to the negotiations happening around the urban agenda and especially the underlying philosophy that “you leave no one behind”. This is because this philosophy trys to activate the element of what inclusivity is, which means not just participating in but benefiting from. The underlying vision of the new urban agenda aligns itself to the right to the city, especially in urban areas like Nairobi that have a tendency of promoting exclusivity that the bigger majority of urbanites are progressively feeling detached from the city. The spirit of the document in my view carries the aspirations of the civil society. The document in its spirit is very people-centrered and this implies that there is a lot of latitude for civil societies to engage with.

How did you participate in the habitat 3 preparation process?

With the leadership of the CSUDP 20 civil society organization based in Nairobi formed a Kenya habitat III caucus. The caucus evaluated its asset worth to bring it on board towards drafting Kenya’s position to the new urban agenda. This asset worth relates to facts that CSOs by their calling have been attached to the problems of the underprevalaged, invested their time in innovating how to solve these problems and they have engaged with communities in such a manner that they are embeded within the community structure. Our primary goal was to get our voice into the agenda discourse from the very primary stages by giving our perspectives and bring meaning to inclusivity, right to the city and leaving no one behind in the essence of what we have cultivated over period of time. This was presented as a common position to the habitat secretariat for consinderation. We appreciated the need to interface very progressively and proactivey with the national habitat committee as the only logical step to get our contribution embeded in the document. We came to a concesus in three ways that; as we go to Quito we have an harmonised kenyan position that speaks very directly to some of the concerns and interests that the civil society sector has had particularly for the underprevailaged members of the society; Harmonised our position so that we have a common stage of consolidating a kenya position that shall also be reflected in our exhibitions and worked with the national government to start to anticipate what we call a post Quioto action plan.
What is the post-Quito plan to ensure that the new urban agenda is implimented in Nairobi city?
We have a five strategy plan to ensure successful implimentation; first we have planned for a clear coperation framework between government and civil society and communities where we are able to herness from the various innovations that the civil society has put in place and progress viable models that have potential to help us meet our commitments. Secondly we intend to popularize what we are calling the New Urban Agenda. To help people understand the various levels of commitment by unpacking the main document and delivering it in a popular manner so that people are able to embrace it within their regular planning routeens whether within the CSOs or government sector. To ensure continued monitoring of the progress we propose strengthen and institutionalize the national habitat committee to be able to evaluate the level of progress on the varoius commitments. Our fourth startegy is to have a common platform for showcasing different contribution by way of an annual conference where we have people showcasing how much contribution they have made and create a general accountability. Finally and of great importance is to create aweareness platforms along various cities including Nairobi through what we refer to as Local Urban Forums (LUFs). These will offer platforms againist which communities can express themselves and can get feed back as well as be prompted to meet some of the obligations.
What is your take home message from the proposed Urban Agenda?
There are three key ideas that reflect what we have been championing for. One is the agenda recognising the social capital that is inherent in the underprevailaged urban residents. There seems to be very good regoniation of the informal economy and how we can create conducive environment for it to thrive. Second is the attempt to balance spread of basic services so that it’s not about leser qulity for the underprevailaged but the right quality for everyone and every where and Finaly it’s the constant reference to the people participation in addressing the peoples aspirations as the primary beneficiaries.

Photo: CSUDP

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