Conquering Participation in Urban Planning Processes with Our City Plans

 Our City Plans team delivered a series of trainings, events, and participatory workshops in the context of the Neuquén Sustainable Cities Programme. This is a collaboration between UN-Habitat and Consejo de Planificación y Acción para el Desarrollo (Copade) (Council of Planning and Action for Development) of Neuquén.

Participation lies at the heart of effective urban planning, empowering communities to shape their neighbourhoods and cities. Our City Plans recognizes the importance of inclusive decision-making and has developed a toolbox to promote participation in urban planning processes.

When you click on the "participation" filter in the toolbox, you are guided through a series of steps to involve multi-stakeholders in the planning process, setting up participation structures and engaging different stakeholders effectively with participatory activities. One key tool is the T12 Stakeholders' Mapping tool, which helps identify potential partners and stakeholders, their levels of power and affinity, and the most suitable methods to engage them. This tool ensures that the right stakeholders are involved at the right stages of the planning process.  

To guide the planning process and ensure participation from all sectors, Our City Plans advocates for the formation of steering and advisory committees. The Steering Committee, composed of stakeholders with high levels of power and affinity, is involved in decision-making and validation processes. On the other hand, the Advisory Committee provides technical expertise and empirical knowledge to ensure that plans respond to different perspectives and needs.

In addition to these committees, Our City Plans emphasizes the importance of creating platforms and mechanisms for wider participation, involving communities and promoting civic engagement, in line with the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, New Urban Agenda. National Urban Forums, aligned with the World Urban Forum, can be formed to coordinate country activities related to sustainable urban development and ensure meaningful participation at all stages of decision-making processes.

Participation is not just a concept in urban planning; it is a fundamental principle that empowers communities and ensures that their voices are heard and no one and no place is left behind. Through its toolbox and guidance, Our City Plans is paving the way for inclusive and sustainable urban development, where everyone has a stake in shaping the future of their cities.