The next Generation of the SymbioCity Approach

Sustainable development and climate awareness are hot topics. The world is full of people and organisations that remind us of what humans are doing wrong and what needs to happen for our children to enjoy the earth in the same way as previous generations. Very few talk about how this shall be done.

Since 2010, SKL International has used the SymbioCity Approach as a concept and a platform to support sustainable urban development around the globe. The overall intent is alleviating urban poverty. With support from Sida, SKL International now takes the concept into a new generation. From December 2015 the SymbioCity Approach 2.0 Programme is off the ground.

From the start, the idea of the SymbioCity Approach has been to focus on how instead of what. A lot of our work has been dedicated to developing concrete tools and methodologies that can be practically used in the field. The SymbioCity Approach Secretariat at SKL International has co-operated with practitioners from local governments as well as researchers and urban development specialists, and weighed theories against the daily realities. This has resulted in guidelines, handbooks and practical examples to support a positive sustainable development driven by politicians and municipal officers together with the urban poor and other local stakeholders.

In implementing the SymbioCity Approach 2.0 programme, even more emphasis will lie on hands-on work and concrete results. All practical tools and methodologies will be put to use as we move closer to implementation and changes on the ground. Specific focus will be put on urban development issues affecting the poor. This includes targeted efforts to improve local economic development and decrease gender inequalities.

A substantial part of the new programme targets cities where efforts will be made to move things in a more sustainable direction e.g. by supporting local forces and existing initiatives with good potential. Practitioners from Swedish municipalities will be involved to further increase the practical perspective through peer-to-peer exchanges. Countries on the priority list include: Colombia, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Bolivia and Zambia. In addition, a major capacity building effort will target Myanmar, a country that has been relying on only a handful of urban planners. A new generation of planners will be supported to move this transitional country in a more sustainable direction. Previous SymbioCity pilot cities from Indonesia will also be involved in specific training segments to add a south-to-south learning dimension.

The SymbioCity Approach 2.0 programme will last until the end of 2020 during which time some eight cities will have received direct support. Through dissemination plans and co-operation with our local partners our hope is that substantially more stakeholders will have benefited from the support provided and the experiences shared. Also in global forums and public debate, the SymbioCity Approach Secretariat will voice the experiences of how to practically transform cities into more sustainable environments.