UN-Habitat concluded its inaugural UN-Habitat Assembly. Held between 27-31 May 2019, the Assembly brought together world leaders, urban practitioners and experts, national regional and local governments, academia, civil society and the private sector, to focus on innovative urbanization solutions for a better quality of life in cities and communities. Delegations from 127 countries, including four Heads of State and Government and 49 ministers took part in the first UN-Habitat Assembly at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, home to UN-Habitat’s headquarters.
During the Assembly, the Capacity Development Unit held a well-attended side event entitled “Achieving SDG 11 in Brazil: How a single mobile phone application mobilizes citizens’ voices and raises accountability in public policies”.
Opening the panel discussion, Gustavo Maia, the founder and CEO of Colab, explained that Colab aims to build a bridge between citizens and the government of Brazil through an innovative, user-friendly mobile app. Result of UN-Habitat’s capacity building engagement in Latin America, the application allows citizens to share their opinions on the state of urbanization in Brazilian cities and the progress of SDG 11. The results and gathered data, in turn, help decision-makers in tailoring their policies to suit the needs of the inhabitants. The app presents an opportunity for improved efficiency of local management as well as enhanced citizen participation and empowerment.
Claudio Acioly, the Chief of Capacity Development Unit, added that to date, nearly 10,000 citizens participated through the app from 820+ cities in Brazil. The last speaker, Ms. Marina Klemeniewicz from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Public Works and Housing of the Government of Argentina, shared that such an app can be a useful tool to bring citizenry closer to the decision-making. She outlined that effective information flow between different levels of policy-making, as well as ensuring that the tool is used even after mandates of local representatives end, are some of the challenges to further consider.
This innovative initiative falls under the Project “Accountability Systems for Measuring, Monitoring and Reporting on Sustainable City Policies in Latin America” funded by the UN Development Account (11th tranche) and implemented by UN-Habitat in collaboration with ECLAC, and in partnership with Foro Ciudades para la Vida in Peru, Fundación del Periodismo in Bolivia, Casa Fluminense in Brazil, and the municipalities of Niterói and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Trujillo and Chimbote (Peru) and La Paz and Tarija (Bolivia).