UN-Habitat launched a Spanish version of its Urban Gateway at the Knowledge for Cities event at the World Urban Forum in Naples on 4 September. The Spanish Gateway will bring together Spanish speaking partners to network, collaborate on programmes, and share urban knowledge, best practices and opportunities.
The Knowledge for Cities event was led by an eminent panel of speakers to share experiences and make recommendations turning knowledge into action. The panel members were Diane Diacon, President of the Building and Social Housing Foundation (UK); Nicola Crosta, Head of Knowledge, Policy and Advocacy at the UN Capital Development Fund; Sonia Fadrigo, Founder Member and Coordinator of Homeless People’s Federation (Philippines); Caroline Skinner, Senior Researcher at the African Centre for Cities (South Africa; Claudia Laub, President of El Agora an organization aimed at democratisation of knowledge and participation (Argentina); and Alice Balbo Project Officer at ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives).
The discussion, among the panel and participants, was coordinated by Mohamed Halfani of UN-Habitat. Suggestions on making knowledge actionable included greater use of web technology rather than books, customized learning environments, audio-visual material, mobile telephony to reach more communities, and packaging of information in more friendly short formats. Panels stressed that transformation of knowledge into action on the ground takes time – sometimes years - because it involves establishing relations between individuals and organizations, spending time on the ground to facilitate learning, mobilizing resources, and building peer and regulatory support structures. The audience made further suggestions on publishing in multiple languages, involving educational institutions to add value by synthesizing, verifying and analyzing, and contextualizing knowledge.
On the role of UN-Habitat and future action to assist the process of triggering change from collective knowledge, participants suggested that the agency should use its coordinating role to bring people together, make partners aware of available knowledge in a targeted way and facilitate access to funds to support implementation. City to city cooperation, bringing communities together, providing access to authors of knowledge material to start off-line dialogue and structuring knowledge by profile rather than by theme were also recommended.
The lively discussion concluded with the launch of the Spanish Urban Gateway by Erik Vittrup from the UN-Habitat Regional Office of Latin America and the Caribbean.