The JWP has catalysed a crucial debate as to how EEG can be achieved. Underpinning the programme was a hypothesised approach which posited that an important pathway to achieving EEG was to focus on equitable access to public goods and services with a particular focus on the informal economy.

The JWP implemented three types of initiatives: policy dialoguesknowledge products; and the Campaign Cities initiative. These JWP-EEG components played a complementary and mutually reinforcing role. Knowledge generated at the global level informed action at the national and locals, and the evaluation of outcomes at national and local levels helped refine policy recommendations and focus the knowledge products. Each of these three components had diverse impacts, from catalysing discussion and debate to implementing projects to foster EEG and improve the lives of the urban poor.


This component contributed to structured, global policy dialogues, specifically addressing the role of local public goods and services in stimulating growth and reducing inequalities in cities. The dialogues resulted in the preparation of issues papers, including a foundation report on how EEG in cities is to be conceptualised, and discussion briefs concerning women’s empowerment and EEG, and the use of public spaces and EEG. 


Policy Dialogue 1: The role of improved access to public goods and services in cities

The first Annual Meeting of the JWP EEG in 2016 set out to kick-start a global dialogue concerning the programme’s central proposition, namely that improved access to public goods and services is a fundamental condition for equitable economic growth in cities

The policy dialogue confirmed the thematic direction of the JWP EEG. Participants underscored the importance and relevance of EEG to cities, but also highlighted the fact that the pathways to EEG were poorly understood, and thus so were strategies and policies which could promote equitable economic growth in cities.

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Policy Dialogue 2: Fostering EEG and the 2030 Global Agenda for cities

In late 2016, the JWP organised a policy dialogue at the Habitat III in Quito and hosted by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF).

With a new global agenda for cities in place, the key aim of the dialogue was to better understand how a supportive enabling institutional environment for EEG in cities can be fostered.

It was concluded at the policy dialogue that partnership platforms are required to ensure that efforts taken to promote EEG are co-ordinated across levels of government and amongst city stakeholders.

It was further concluded that at a global level there remains important knowledge gaps to address including how to manage cities so that they are a productive force for prosperity and development; how the private sector can be involved in the task of promoting EEG; and what other actors that not yet recognised as EEG change agents can be identified and involved.

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Policy Dialogue 3: Public goods and services for women’s economic empowerment in cities

The theme of local economic development (LED) strategies was the focus of the policy dialogue at the 4th World Forum for LED, held in Praia, Cabo Verde, in 2017.

The policy dialogue highlighted that many cities, particularly secondary cities, in low-income countries, struggle to become engines of growth. Large infrastructure and service deficits, low productivity, high unemployment rates, and increasing urban inequalities hamper sustainable and inclusive development and structural transformation.

However, it is frequently the case that secondary cities can also provide for the basic needs of their citizenship more efficiently than metropolitan areas. Hence, these cities play a crucial role in the achievement of “inclusive, safe and resilient” cities (Goal 11 of the SDGs). Equitable and gender responsive access to public goods and services, is identified as pivotal to guarantee adequate standard of living as well as equal opportunities for women and men, girls and boys, to study, work, be healthy and prosper.

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Policy Dialogue 4: Public space as a driver of EEG in cities

At the World Urban Forum (WUF) in Kuala Lumpur in 2018, under the theme, ‘Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda,’ the JWP organised a policy dialogue focused on how public space can be a driver of EEG.

The dialogue sought, first to demonstrate the importance of public space assets to EEG, and second, to identify strategies and policy approaches available to cities wishing to use public space as an EEG enabler. In so doing the event contributed to the operationalisation of the New Urban Agenda’s commitment to promote “safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public spaces as drivers of social and economic development, in order to sustainably leverage their potential.”

The dialogue concluded that local government investment in public spaces can generate important social and economic benefits, as they contribute to the attractiveness and competitiveness of urban areas.

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Policy Dialogue 5: Local Economic Acceleration through Partnerships (LEAP)

A Joint Venture project of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the JWP EEG in the period 2018-20, Local Economic Acceleration through Partnerships (LEAP) aimed to support secondary cities in Africa and Southeast Asia in addressing the obstacles to investment.

A key output of the initiative was a public-private policy dialogue on Equitable Economic Growth in Cities in Davos in 2018 that capitalised on the convening power of the WEF’s Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative Steering and Advisory Board at the global level to create a joint agenda on equitable economic growth in cities.

Specifically, this policy dialogue sought to identify conditions that promote successful partnerships between local authorities and the private sector to address infrastructure and service gaps in rapidly urbanising cities.

The outcomes of the session informed the implemtation of LEAP initiative in two secondary cities in Ghana; Agona Swedru and Cape Coast and two secondary cities in Uganda; Gulu and Mbale. The LEAP initiative aimed in its first phase at addressing the obstacles to investment in rapidly growing cities in Uganda and Ghana by creating avenues for public-private dialogue and cooperation and connecting members and partners with industry leaders in selected countries.

The key LEAP achievements to date include:

  • Formation of partnerships that foster better understanding and effective action towards promoting equitable access to city level public goods and urban infrastructure (e.g. roads, transport, health, education and open spaces) and positively impact the growth trajectory for the city: reducing inequalities, enabling job creation and sustainably increasing productivity; and
  • Raised awareness, shared knowledge and improved the quality of policy advice and dialogue on how to enable widespread access to public goods, services, and urban infrastructure for equitable economic growth in cities.

The thematic challenges explored by the Global Knowledge Products 

The seven global knowledge products were designed to explore different thematic areas under the umbrella of enhancing public services to achieve EEG. Given the diversity of the themes explored, there were many valuable key findings which do not lend themselves to a unified synthesis, rather it is clear that the local barriers to EEG are multi-faceted. The following table provides an overview of the challenges to EEG explored in the knowledge products and the recommended policy approaches.



Thematic challenges for policymakers in achieving EEG

Recommended approaches

Gendered barriers to access basic services and gender-blind planning restricts the opportunities available to women and gender minorities, as well as the overall function of cities as drivers of EEG.

Urban governments have a role to foster a gender-responsive urban environment, including through public goods and services, city layout design, promoting local accountability, setting up platforms for engagement with gender-based organisations and addressing unequal power relations by fostering institutional change.

The value of public space as a productive asset is often overlooked. Governments must balance the needs of multiple users of public space, as well as pressures from different political and business interests.

Access to public space must be regulated to sustain the livelihoods of urban informal workers. Excessive restrictions on informal workers and displacement to urban peripheries can impede city economies.

Secondary cities suffer a number of competitive disadvantages, including a lack of infrastructure and services, access to markets, weak institutional enabling environments, land management issues, skills, difficulty in attracting investments and creating jobs, higher transaction costs and inability to generate economies of scale.

Collaboration between secondary cities can compensate for their competitive disadvantages. Governments must foster ‘hard and soft infrastructure’ to improve connectivity within systems of cities. E.g. Take advantage of shared resources, knowledge, and freight capacity to create value-adding activities, specialisation and reduce dependence on larger cities.

Inadequate management of ecosystem goods, such as water, green space and land, stresses the environment, as well as the livelihoods of communities and the operation of businesses. Secondary cities have low capacities for conservation and sustainable urban management.

Local policy tools include setting regulatory standards, conservation of threatened land and water, market-based instruments to provide incentives for sustainable use, assigning property rights to protect land or ecosystem services and advocating for behavioural changes, such as through certification schemes.

Pricing municipal services is a complex task that depends on city capacity and various demand and supply side factors at macroeconomic and local levels. The demand for quality and quantity of services is rising in rapidly urbanising cities, however many services are not cost-recoverable or sustainable. 

No one-size-fits-all approach, rather municipal authorities must develop approaches to pricing that make economic, financial, and social sense in their own communities. Municipal pricing must be based on measuring and updating information on willingness-to-pay, dynamic and flexible mechanisms to ration supply, transparency, and pricing in externalities.

Little knowledge on the smart cities trend exists in cities of the Global South, where lower capacities hinder implementation and challenges are varied. Smart cities initiatives do not necessarily lead to urban inclusion or EEG and the required basic data on the urban poor is difficult to collect. 

Ensure that smart cities initiatives are enriched by an international development lens and focus on simple technical solutions that are affordable and appropriable to the local context. Facilitate, gather and ensure proper use of existing scattered data. Ensure that implementation is demand-driven to address to actual needs of the poor

1. Bangladesh Campaign City

The campaign facilitated City Partnership Diagnostics to support EEG in Narayanganj and Sylhet. In line with the overarching objective of the JWP EEG, the project sort to support the link between access to public goods and services and more equitable city economy in the two secondary cities through prioritized public goods focused to each city’s specific need.

The project produced the following outputs in each city:

  • Institutional Enabling Environment Report (IEER)
  • Local Assessment Report (LAR)
  • Action Plans for implementing LAR recommendations 

Institutional Enabling Environment Reports

The IEER described the political, functional, and fiscal arrangements under which Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) and Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) operates.  It defined the space wherein city-level actions can become effective and operational. The IEER reports highlighted the absence of a unified regulatory system, as well as unclear mandates, and incentives for the illegal encroachment of public land as important factors limiting efforts to promote EEG.

Local Assessment Reports

The LAR prioritized, two focus areas in each city, as the basis for equitable economic growth through a stakeholder consultation process, for an in-depth diagnostic of scope, delivery mechanisms and recommendations about service improvements. The LAR for SCC prioritized safe handling and disposal of waste from healthcare establishments for sustainable medical waste management. On the other hand, the LAR for NCC prioritized establishment of a Women’s Complex and Digital Centre as a single-window delivery mechanism for economic empowerment activities for women. 

Action Plans

The twin objectives of the NCC Action Plan  are (1) to promote women’s participation in economic activities through the provision of skills training, access to business capitals and physical space (market), and physical fitness and crèche facilities; and (2) to improve ‘ease of doing business’ through easier access of the people to municipal services and at lower costs by establishing City Digital Centres at the ward level

The twin objectives of the  SCC Action Plan are to: to promote safe handling and disposal of waste from healthcare establishments (HCEs) for sustainable medical waste management (MWM) SCC, estimated at 10.58 tonnes daily in the year 2022-23; and, formulate strategy to respond to the emerging demand for skilled manpower in Sylhet based on assessment of existing practices, stakeholders, demand, delivery gaps and policy options to provide vocational training to 1,500 youth and women in Sylhet by the year 2022-23.

Implementing Partners: BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, BRAC University; Narayanganj City Corporation; Sylhet City Corporation

Duration: December 2016 – December 2018


2. Ghana Campaign City

The campaign sort to support the link between access to public goods and services and more equitable city economy in the two secondary cities of Agona Swedru and Cape Coast through focus areas adapted to each city’s specific needs.  

 Each campaign city produced the following outputs:

  • An Institutional Enabling Environment Report (IEER), 
  • A Local Assessment Report (LAR) and
  • City-level, evidence-based policy briefs & recommendations.

Institutional Enabling Environment Reports

The IEER provided assessments of the institutional enabling environment of the two cities and its impacts on their capacity to deliver public goods and services to formal and informal businesses. Constraints were identified in several areas, including limited financial capacity, functional and geographic fragmentation, lack of strategic leadership and limited accountability in service delivery. 

 Local Assessment Reports

The LAR identified two focus areas in each city, as the basis for equitable economic growth through a stakeholder consultation process, for an in-depth diagnostic of scope, delivery mechanisms and recommendations about service improvements. The focus areas identified for a detailed investigation in Agona Swedru were agro-processing and supply chains. In Cape Coast the identified focus areas were water, sanitation & waste management and linkages to tourism

 Policy Briefs

The policy briefs provided recommendations for boosting the economy through agro processing industries and tourism development in Agona Swedru and Cape Coast respectively. Specific recommendations included:

Lengthening the agricultural and agro-processing value chain through the upgrading of production and processing methods, the introduction of new product lines, improved packaging and labelling, forward and backward linkages and facilitating integration of the local chains to larger city and international markets to ensure ready market outlets for agro-products

Improving Access to In-House Toilet Facilities through regulation, incentives and disincentives (financial, social, and other forms) for households to encourage toilet construction.

Regulating Sewage Management by Collecting, Treating and Disposing them Safely back to the Environment.  Consider partnerships with the private sector to safely collect, dispose and recycle the sewage waste.

Implementing Partners: Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) University of Ghana; Eparque Urban Strategies; Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly; Agona West Municipal Assembly; Ministry of Local Government, and Rural Development (MLGRD), Ghana

Duration: August 2017 – September 2019


3. Kenya Campaign City

The objective of the campaign was to facilitate a 24-month local support initiative aimed at supporting the promotion of equitable access to public goods and services through focus areas adapted to the specific needs and context of Kajiado County and Nyandarua County. 

The campaign produced the following outputs:

Institutional Enabling Environment Reports (IEER) for each county

Local Assessment Reports (LAR) for each county

Evidence-based policy briefs & recommendations for each county

Kajiado Market Assessment & Management Framework

Venture Strategy and Structure Magumu Wholesale Market and Logistics Centre

Magumu Market Preliminary designs and layout 

Nyandarua market assessment report 

Institutional Enabling Environment Reports 

In Kenya, the IEER was conducted in two counties, Nyandarua and Kajiado This involved analysis of the responsibilities, mandates and powers of the county, governance framework, revenue generation, Land management and development control framework. The goal was to give the macro framework conditions under which the county government operates and to assist in identifying county level actions (using local budgets and policy instruments available) that lead to increasingly equitable economic growth path.

Local Assessment Reports

The Local Assessment Reports presented the findings from a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of prioritized public goods and service access and delivery in each county. The public goods and services to be focused on were chosen at a kick-off workshop through a participatory and stakeholder consultation approach. Kadiajo county chose to focus on urban development & infrastructure management and establishment of a market management authorityresponsible for all the 33 markets in the county. Nyandarua chose to focus on urban development & infrastructure management and construction of a wholesale market and agro processing center.

Policy Briefs

The policy briefs provided evidence-based recommendations that can potentially improve institutional performance at local levels. Specific recommendations included:

Enact the appropriate local legislation that is in keeping with the legal regulations set out in the new Physical and Land Use Planning and other stipulated legal foundations.

Institute a “development levy/fee” to be paid to the county government by developers (commercial or individual) for the construction of sewage treatment, water purification, drainage, and organic waste treatment.  

Implementing Partners: UN-Habitat; County Government of Nyandarua; County Government of Kajiado 

Duration:  July 2018 – June 2020


4. Uganda Campaign City

The objective of the campaign was to build the capacity of secondary cities to be able to address some of the challenges arising as a result of the rapid urbanization that Uganda is experiencing. The main objective of the project was to assist two Ugandan municipalities, Gulu and Mbale, to develop well-researched and evidence-based policy recommendations on how to improve the delivery of municipal public goods and service that contribute to equitable economic growth. Through a participatory process involving different stakeholders, two themes – Local Economic Development and Public Space and Land Management – were selected for in-depth analysis to inform city action plans to foster equitable, inclusive and sustainable growth.

Key outputs:

Over a two-year period, the project produced the following outputs:

Institutional Enabling Environment Report Gulu Municipality

Local Assessment Reports on Local Economic Development (LED) for Mbale and Gulu; 

Local Assessment Reports on Urban Public Space and Land Management for Mbale and Gulu;

Knowledge Product “Losing Ground? The Unprecedented Shrinking of Public Space and Land in Ugandan Municipalities;

Draft Knowledge Product “Starved of Financing: What can municipalities do to improve community access to finance for Local Economic Development? Reflections from Mbale and Gulu Municipalities in Uganda”

Policy Briefs on Local Economic Development for Gulu and Mbale; and 

Policy Briefs on Urban Public Space and Land Management for Gulu and Mbale.  

Early impact

The project over the years working together with the leadership of the two cities widely disseminated project outputs nationally, regionally and globally in different forums. As a result of the wide dissemination efforts, the project has steadily improved the prominence and visibility of the areas of local economic development and public spaces and land management for equitable economic growth. 

 The local governments have already developed actions plans to mainstream some of the key action points from the Local Assessment Reports and Policy Briefs into their development plans. A number of central government agencies including the newly created local government sector, Ministry of Trade, Industries and Cooperatives, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development have indicated their commitment to take forward some the issues highlighted by the project in LED and Public spaces and land management through their policy and regulatory efforts. 

The findings and recommendation stemming from the project’s assessments and analytical work featured prominently during the Uganda Urban Forum in September 2018 and informed the Jinja Declaration that sought to help municipalities in Uganda and in the region adopt new approaches, innovative solutions and transition from public fund spenders to finance enablers and mobilizers.

Implementing Partners: UNCDF, Mbale Municipality, Gulu Municipality

Duration: December 2016 – December 2018 

It's really only urban development that has the lifting capacity to bring a national economy out of poverty. If we ignore secondary cities, we are ignoring a significant part of the economy.

William Cobbett, Director Cities Alliance