Global Public Space Toolkit From Global Principles to Local Policies and Practice

Despite its importance in promoting sustainable urban development, public space has not been given the attention it deserves in literature and, more importantly, in the global policy arena. Yet, there is a growing body of principles and sound policies for improving access to good public space in our cities, as well as a growing patrimony of good practices from different urban settings around the world. What was missing up to now was a compendium of some of the most relevant principles, policies, and practices.

For this reason, and in keeping with the mandate given by its governing body, UN-Habitat has decided to put together, in cooperation with the Istituto Nazionale di Urbanistica (INU) and other partners, a toolkit—a user-friendly guide to provide cities, particularly those with high rates of demographic growth and limited financial resources, with actionable ideas on how to improve the availability, quality, and distribution of good public spaces.

The toolkit will be a practical reference for local governments to frame and implement principles, policy recommendations, and development initiatives on public space and for central governments to aid their efforts with material support and enabling legislation. It will also serve the purpose of demonstrating the value of the involvement of the citizenry and civil society in securing, developing, and managing public space in the city.

However, the toolkit is not conceived as a set of recommendations prepared by a group of expert individuals and organizations and directed at a global audience. Most policy suggestions are preceded by the subject ‘we’. This is to emphasize the fact that there is now a broad ‘public space community’ comprising international organizations such as UN-Habitat, professional organizations, local governments, central governments, permanent public-space fora, foundations, citizens’ groups, researchers, and dedicated individuals who are all committed to working together to make our cities better places to live in through inclusive, safe, and accessible public space. If anything, this toolkit intends to broaden this global partnership further.

As the partnership grows and continues to research and work, new and additional tools, issues, and aspects will be highlighted. UN-Habitat remains committed to continuing to document and support such developments. The toolkit is conceived as an open series of documents providing different levels of detail and applicable options.


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