Chicago, 18 September 2019—The mayor of Guadalajara, Ismael Del Toro Castro, recently met with the Executive Director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Crime Lab, Roseanna Ander, and the Crime Lab team, met on campus.
They discussed crime prevention, public security and inclusion. They also spoke about plans to establish a collaborative effort that would bolster Guadalajara’s strategy for a safer and more orderly city, drawing on the lab’s 10 years of experience with innovating urban safety strategies. The lab brings together civic and community leaders to plan, execute and assess program and policies designed to reduce crime and violence. This has given them invaluable insight that can be applied in other cities.
Mayor Del Toro Castro also met with his Chicago counterpart, Lori Elaine Lightfoot. They discussed the possibility of a collaboration between the two cities that would allow them to share best practices. Their meeting also touched on climate change, the prevention of violence, public safety and economic development.
This dialogue comes under UN-Habitat’s Safer Cities Programme, with whom Guadalajara has a partnership. Having built a network of cities around the globe, the Safer Cities Programme is well-positioned to connect local actors and governments from different cities and facilitate a knowledge exchange. The Safer Cities Programme supports the implementation of the safer cities approach, which is a multi-sectoral integrated approach that works to empower local governments in their efforts to improve urban safety by leading participatory and knowledge-based initiatives. In pursuing the co-production of safety for all, the approach pays particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable groups, including women, youth and the urban poor and advocates for the adoption of prevention methods to complement repression responses to crime and violence.
The Safer Cities Programme emerged from the Urban Management Programme created by the United Nations Development Programme in 1986. At the time, it focused on strengthening urban management, urban infrastructure and transparency in Asian, African and Latin American cities. As the programme developed, it began to address urban poverty, sustainable development and gender in cities. This led to the design of the Safer Cities Programme, which took place from 1993 to 1996. Since then, the- program has evolved from a learning and development phase to consolidating and expanding the tools implemented on the group through city projects. Now, it has accumulated over twenty years of experience working to improve urban safety in over 77 cities in 24 countries worldwide.
One tool that emerged from this process is the establishment of City Safety Labs in cities. These assess the problems on the ground, engage local stakeholders and offer solutions tailored to the particular context. The lab serves as a local platform to compile knowledge, conduct research, exchange best-practices, learn and develop innovations, towards better urban management and the co-production of urban safety. Guadalajara has launched an urban safety lab of this kind to develop urban safety policy towards developing new tools and indicators that will allow officials to evaluate and monitor crime and violence in their city.
The Safer Cities Programme works towards the realization of the 2030 Development Agenda, and the New Urban Agenda. To that effect, UN-Habitat, under the auspices of this program, spearheaded the adoption of the United Nations System-Wide Guidelines on Safer Cities and Human Settlements, which recommend the development of a knowledge-based participatory processes that promote the facilitation of learning and knowledge exchange, drawing on innovation and experience for monitoring and measurement. This collaboration between Guadalajara and Chicago represents one step towards each of these elements of the Guidelines and the ultimate goal to make cities safer.