The challenge

UN-Habitat’s research shows that well-functioning cities have around 50% of the surface area dedicated to public space. Unfortunately, few cities around the world meet this target. Lack of quality public spaces reduces urban quality of life, increasing crime, social tensions, health and congestion. Public space provides leverage to optimize urban performance – build safer and cohesive communities, reduce spatial inequalities, build local economies and bring nature back to the city.

Impact

100
small public spaces successfully upgraded in collaboration with communities and local governments.
Over
1.5
million people are now able to access and enjoy safe, and inclusive public spaces in their communities.
20,000
people including youth, children, women and girls engaged in the co-design and co-building of their public spaces.
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Charles Gachanga, 40, CEO, Dandora Transformation League

“If we change Dandora, we can change Nairobi, we can change Kenya and even Africa.”

Charles Gachanga, 40, CEO, Dandora Transformation League

Leaving no one and no place behind

Hover over or touch 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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UN-Habitat's work 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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UN-Habitat 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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Related Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 3 logo
SDG 5 logo
SDG 10 logo
SDG 11 logo
SDG 13 logo
SDG 17 logo

Donors and partners

As part of our public space work, we work with a wide range of partners – including local and national governments, civil society academia and the private sector. The UN-Habitat public space network includes more than 100 organizations that regularly meet to bring the public agenda forward. Our public space regeneration projects – so far in 35 countries - are usually implemented through a collaboration between UN-Habitat, the local government and a civil society organization, but in some cases also with other UN agencies, for example with UNICEF in Mozambique and with UN Women in Tunisia.  Since 2016 we have organized regular meetings of the United Nations Public Space network.

Our Experts

Cecilia Andersson
Programme Manager, Urban Planning and Design Branch
WUF 10