Vibrant “Public Spaces for all”, celebrating World Habitat Day and the role of Local Governments.

On the occasion of World Habitat Day, 5 October 2015, UCLG celebrated the role of well-designed public spaces in fostering economic development, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, creativity and gender equality in our cities.

Public spaces for all” is long standing interest and activity at UCLG, which considers public spaces an essential element of the full realization of the ‘right to the city’.

An event for world habitat day took place in Rome and was organized by Istituto Nazionale di Urbanistica (INU - National Urban Institute) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Maria Regina Rau, technical chair of the committee on urban strategic planning presented a dialogue on the role of UCLG for developing the global agenda and cooperation, as well as the role of local government and Porto Alegre at its territorial base.

She highlighted the role of UCLG to promote bottom up dialogues with learning exchanges, participatory practices and city cooperation. It also documents city learning methodologies and develops toolkits. In collaboration with partner cities the committee plans to develop a policy paper on public space for local governments.

Whereas local governments can work around developing small scale projects with local communities. Porto Alegre has a territorial base following its 17 participatory budgeting regions. It also plans to work on macro scale projects such as developing river fronts as an urban public space. It also plays the task of “City hall in the community” together building on co-responsibilities with citizens and leaders alike.

Legislation in public space is also an important aspect, where set of rules and regulation need to be defined based on mutual respect of social interactions in public space. The vulnerable social groups or the disabled also need to be considered. Public spaces are also important to generate employment and revenue for local economic development. Hence with multiple socio-economic advantages Public spaces are a key to achieving SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.