Why Global Public Space Programme?

Public space is crucial for sustainable cities and communities: providing ecosystem services, improving health and wellbeing, ensuring social inclusion and economic exchange. It offers an opportunity to enrich the quality of life of all urban dwellers, leaving no one behind. In collaboration with partners, UN-Habitat demonstrates how to turn public spaces around, transform communities and change mind-sets through innovative community-led approaches and scalable catalytic pilots.

UN-Habitat’s Global Public Space Programme was launched in 2012 with the objective to support local governments in creating and promoting socially inclusive, integrated, connected, environmentally sustainable and safe streets and public spaces, especially for the most vulnerable, promoting a better quality of life for all. The programme has developed an integrated, multi-sectoral and iterative approach to support local governments to create vibrant and inclusive public space networks, long-term urban strategies and national policies, focusing on the most vulnerable groups. Starting from the national and regional scale, the Programme provides technical support and capacity building in public space assessments, policy guides, strategies and design principles, management and maintenance frameworks and using innovative participatory tools. The outcomes of this approach inform city planning frameworks, monitoring of the 2030 New Urban Agenda, SDG 11.7 and thematic aspects such as inequality, prosperity, accessibility, resilience and health.

News and Stories

Nicolette Pingo, 34, Development Manager, Johannesburg Development Agency

“The capacity building support from UN-Habitat has been incredibly useful and is really shaping the City’s processes of co-designing, building and implementing public open spaces across multiple departments. We are immensely grateful to UN-Habitat for these resources and support.”

Nicolette Pingo, 34, Development Manager, Johannesburg Development Agency

small public spaces successfully upgraded in collaboration with communities and local governments.
1.5 million
people are now able to access and enjoy safe, and inclusive public spaces in their communities.
people including youth, children, women and girls engaged in the co-design and co-building of their public spaces.

Related Sustainable Development Goals

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Leaving no one and no place behind

Hover over or click the icons to learn about UN-Habitat's work on social inclusion here.

Human rights is the centre point of our work. All our processes and methodologies are guided by the universal human rights. Through co-creation of public spaces, we reinforce human rights including the right to civic participation and freedom of opinion and expression.

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All our processes and projects have a special element of gender equality. In particular, use the lens of women and girls to interrogate the inclusivity of public spaces, create gender-sensitive places. In our co-creation processes, the program ensures that no gender is more than half the total number of participants.

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The program embodies the principle of leaving no one behind. Our processes are especially designed to promote intergenerational dialogue among diverse age groups. Through Minecraft, placemaking and other methodologies, we endeavour to create spaces and places that promote intergenerational dialogue and exchange, and harmonious coexistence where everybody feels cared for and recognised.

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The Global Public Space Program promotes safe, inclusive and accessible public spaces where people of all abilities are welcome. Universal accessibility is one of the principles that guide our idea of inclusive spaces. We not only design for inclusivity but we co-create spaces with everyone including the disabled.

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Donors and partners

The success of UN-Habitat’s public space programme is anchored in our wide network of local government, civil society, academia and private sector partners – now numbering more than 100. Our public space regeneration projects are usually completed in collaboration with the local government and a civil society partners. Through placemaking networks, UN-Habitat engages with and supports communities to take action towards reclaiming and transforming their public spaces. Since 2016, we have organized regular meetings of the UN Public Space Network to encourage other UN agencies to take action on public space as a way of achieving sustainable development