How Cities Can Benefit from International Knowledge Exchange

by Jul 16, 2019Governance, Technology

Camille Toggenburger and Jakki Mann

Camille Toggenburger is the use community and content manager. She reviews all incoming submissions, works with the platform partners and contributes to the overall development of the platform.

Jakki Mann is the Manager of Western Sydney University's Circles of Sustainability Strategic Initiative. Through the University's relationship with the City of Berlin, Jakki works as Content Curator for use.


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Cities worldwide are pursuing the goal of sustainable and inclusive urban development. To achieve this, knowledge exchange at an international level and building networks for politicians, city administrators, practitioners, academics, and researchers to engage with each other is becoming increasingly important. A quick and easy way to connect and learn from practical experiences in sustainable urban development is provided by the online-platform use (urban sustainability exchange).

A Platform for Collaborative Innovative Urban Practice

use is an open knowledge exchange platform dedicated to sustainable city making. use connects citymakers and encourages the exchange of ideas and experiences to affect positive sustainable change. The continuously growing platform currently hosts 315 case studies, contributed by citymakers around the globe and institutional partners which include leading urban award organisations. It assists citymakers in promoting and sharing policies, projects and programs to accelerate urban innovation projects.

use (formerly Policy Transfer Platform) was launched in 2014 as an initiative of Metropolis, the World Association of the Major Metropolises. The platform is led and co-founded by the City of Berlin and supported by the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University.

A Dynamic Environment for Transferring Knowledge

The use platform provides information on how to develop and implement approaches in response to complex urban issues in a local context. Each of the case studies offers a summary of a project, program or policy, including challenges, lessons learned, impacts and an assessment of the transferability potential to another location.

One of the platform’s most useful features is the indexation of case studies to the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). From SDG 1 to 17, you can find initiatives that are being implemented to promote positive sustainable change at the local level and access information that can help you replicate the project in your own city.

5 Examples: Putting SDG 5 into Local Action

A number of case studies addressing gender equality and empowering women and girls (SDG 5) in city planning and policy making have been replicated in other cities:

  • Santa Ana en Cleta project in Costa Rica
  • SafetiPin project in Bogota, Colombia
  • Micro Development Program in Addis Ababa,
  • Integration Facilitators program in Berlin, Germany
  • Women Producers Market in Mezitli, Turkey

The Santa Ana en Cleta project in Costa Rica is dedicated to transforming the mobility and road culture of the its citizens by promoting gender equality and sustainable mobility. During the first stage of the project women are empowered by learning how to ride a bicycle and to use it for daily transportation. The project is currently being replicated in the neighbouring municipalities of Belen and Mora.

The SafetiPin project in Bogota, Colombia is a map-based mobile and desktop application that makes communities and cities safer by providing information collected by users and trained auditors. At the core of the app is the Women’s Safety Audit, a participatory tool for collecting and assessing information about perceptions of safety in public spaces. The app was originally developed and implemented in New Delhi, India and has been adapted to suit the streets and public spaces of Bogota.

A Micro and Small Enterprise Development Program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia established by the local government with support from NGOs, training institutes and micro-credit institutions provides business training, loans, and employment opportunities to help alleviate poverty and unemployment for women. The program has been transferred to other cities in Ethiopia and a similar format has been implemented by the national government.

The Women Producers Market in Mezitli, Turkey provides women with space and support to sell their produce and products. The project encourages women to be economically pro-active and helps reduce their dependency on family, particularly male relatives and spouses. The project also aims at increasing social exchange between women of different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. It received a Guangzhou Award in 2018 and is being replicated in other districts in the Mersin region of Turkey.

The Integration Facilitators program in Berlin, Germany provides support services for newly arrived families living in disadvantaged circumstances. The program provides training for unemployed migrants, mainly women, who come from migrant backgrounds, to work as mediators reaching out to other women at schools, playgrounds, medical centres, mosques and shops. The program idea originated in Utrecht in the Netherlands and has been implemented in other Dutch cities as well as Germany.

Call to Action

Cities need to collaborate, learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, positive outcomes and failures. use brings together local governments, public agencies, academic institutions, civil societies, initiatives, and citymakers from around the world to support the successful implementation of sustainable urban development projects and policies locally.

The use platform is free and accessible to everyone who shares an interest in urban sustainability.  Search our database, join the community, and upload your project. Feel free to reach out to our community manager Camille Toggenburger.

use. urban sustainability exchange from urban sustainability exchange on Vimeo.

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