Deadline: 15 November at 5pm East Africa Time

UN-Habitat’s Global Public Space Programme is launching a call for the implementation of innovative public space projects. Local authorities and non-profit organisations are invited to submit proposals which aim to achieve the following expected result:

  • The effective creation, protection, design and management of public spaces, particularly in disadvantaged communities in rapidly urbanizing cities and towns, as critical preconditions for poverty reduction and the fulfilment of human rights in urban areas.

Proposals must demonstrate that they contribute to the following outcome:

  • Improved local policies, plans and designs for safe, inclusive and accessible public spaces for all which supports more compact, better integrated and well connected, socially inclusive and resilient cities and neighbourhoods in partner cities.

Proposals can be submitted for projects in the following countries and territories:

  • Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea Conakry, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Palestine, Peru, Vietnam

Project background

UN-Habitat’s Global Public Space Programme, launched in 2012, works in collaboration with local governments, non-profit organisations and other partners to implement public space projects worldwide. To date, the programme is active in about 30 countries.

Public space is a vital ingredient of successful cities. Small public spaces are priceless as they can build a sense of community and create a safe and secure environment for everyone, including men, women, young people and older people. Such public spaces contribute to the building of social capital, encourage economic development and strengthen communities. Having access to public space improves quality of life and is a first step towards civic and economic empowerment and opens opportunities for greater institutional and political engagement. Public space leads to urban environments that are well maintained, healthy and safe, making the city an attractive place in which to live and work for everyone.

UN-Habitat’s Charter of Public Space defines public space as the following:

‘Public spaces are all places publicly owned or of public use, accessible and enjoyable by all for free and without a profit motive. Public spaces are a key element of individual and social well-being, the places of a community’s collective life, expressions of the diversity of their common, natural and cultural richness and a foundation of their identity.’

UN-Habitat takes a broad view of public space and the definition goes beyond traditional open public spaces such as parks and playgrounds, to also include streets, pavements, community spaces, markets and public transit hubs.

The Global Public Space Programme is implemented in collaboration with the Block by Block Foundation and Sida. As part of this collaboration, UN-Habitat has developed an innovative community participation methodology for the design of public spaces which uses Minecraft. Minecraft is one of the world’s most popular computer games, with over 100 million users, best imagined as a ‘digital Lego’, in which players build complex structures or compete against each other in community-designed competitions. Experience from 75 projects in 30 countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Peru, Mexico, Haiti, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Lebanon and Kosovo show that Minecraft is a useful tool for engaging communities, particularly youth, women, disabled people, minority groups and slum dwellers in urban design processes. Through five-day participatory design workshops, UN-Habitat and partners bring people together to visualize their urban design ideas in Minecraft, and present these to city authorities and local government officials. The Minecraft designs are then used as part of the process of implementing real public space improvement projects.

What are we looking for?

In this call for proposals, UN-Habitat is looking for implementing partnerships with local governments and non-profit organisations that can manage and deliver innovative public space upgrading and regeneration projects. The projects will demonstrate that multifunctional public spaces can contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG11.7: “by 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities”.

Interested applicants can either propose a project that demonstrates the importance of stakeholder engagement, citizen participation, assessments, quality design, policy and management for the development of multifunctional public space or a series of smaller projects (around 5-10) that demonstrate how smaller public space interventions such as street furniture, parklets, street lighting, bicycle parking, market stalls and other types of public space can have a larger impact on neighbourhoods and cities. All project proposals must have the potential to be used as a demonstration project to show how collaborative public space design and upgrading can be used to meet the SDGs. The aim is to show that public space projects can have a big impact on urban life.

Projects must be ready to start immediately and be completed within a period of three to 12 months. Each Implementing Partner can receive up to $100,000 for the full portfolio, including administrative costs. The project or portfolio of projects should be implemented in the above selected countries and territories. 

Main activities and outputs

The Implementing Partners will be undertaking main activities as follows (but not limited to):

  • Implementation of public space demonstration projects that illustrate how public space can be designed and improve use and overall quality of life;
  • Public space surveys and assessments;
  • Organization of meetings and capacity building workshops on the institutional and operational arrangements to facilitate public space planning, delivery and maintenance;
  • Organization of participatory workshops that address the design, development, and maintenance of public spaces;
  • Communications campaigns that highlight the important role public spaces play in the lives of citizens;
  • Collaboration with both international and local planning/design experts in the production of concept designs for the pilot sites;
  • Identification of opportunities for further scaling-up of the project;
  • Supervision of public space construction works
  • Development and documentation of public space tools and methodologies.
  • Provision of in-kind contribution to this implementing partnership.

In addition to project implementation funds, UN-Habitat will provide financing and technical support to do participatory design workshops using Minecraft.

Once selected, a process of detailed formulation in collaboration with UN-Habitat’s Public Space Programme will be undertaken to establish an Agreement of Cooperation under which the work will be implemented.

How to apply

Read and fill out the documents below and address your CFP response by email to the attention of Michael Atogoh, email The email must quote the following CFP reference in the subject: CFP/10-2018/CPEDU-PSP.

You must submit all the documents requested in the Call for Proposals Technical Document. Please also ensure that you cover all the requirements from the technical proposal in your project proposal.

  1. Call for Proposals Technical Document
  2. Annex A: Partner declaration form
  3. Annex B: Technical proposal form
  4. Annex C: Budget template