Towards more equitable city economies - exploring public goods and services as a pathway to more equitable economic development in secondary cities in the global south.


Towards more equitable city economies

Exploring public goods and services as a pathway to more equitable economic development in secondary cities in the global south

A Project Lab at the European Development Days 2019 organized by the Joint Work Programme for Equitable Economic Growth in Cities


Date and time: 19 June 2019, 13:00 – 14:15

Venue: Tour & Taxi, Brussels

Room: S2


About the Event

Cities in the global south face a stark inequality challenge. Many struggle to provide basic economic opportunities to rapidly growing populations, leading to widespread informality, precarious livelihoods and widening gaps of income and wealth. Against this background, the need for more equitable approaches to economic development in cities is increasingly recognised. The practical measures available to foster such development, however, are rarely articulated.

The significance of municipal goods and services in this regard can hardly be overstated, particularly in rapidly urbanising, under-resourced cities in the global south.

Equitable access to public goods and services reduces inequalities by improving the wellbeing of citizens and facilitating decent and productive employment, especially for the urban poor. It also strengthens the fundamental prerequisites for growth and productivity, enabling cities to benefit from economies of agglomeration and scale. The universal provision of basic infrastructure is fundamental to increasing the productivity of people and businesses alike. An effective, affordable transport infrastructure is required to avoid congestion and reap the economic benefits of connectivity. No economy can thrive without reliable sources and supply of energy, especially electricity. Public space is essential to the livelihoods and productivity of informal workers, who often operate in the streets and open areas of the city.

Crucially, many public goods and services are within the control of cities and local governments themselves, rendering them a key entry point for addressing the inequality challenge. At the same time, more needs to be done to understand how these assets can be leveraged to benefit all, which is why public goods provision is at the heart of the EDD agenda.

This session will address the ‘equitable growth challenge’ in cities based on insights from the Cities Alliance Joint Work Programme (JWP) for Equitable Economic Growth in Cities – dedicated to supporting improved access to public goods and services as a pathway to more vibrant, inclusive and sustainable city economies. The session will be initiated with presentations by those to whom public goods matter the most – local governments and the informally working poor. This is followed by insights and perspectives from the programme, with emphasis on two essential dimensions of public service provision: municipal service pricing, and access to public space and land. We conclude with Q&A and discussion around practical policy paths and ways forward.


Lena Simet, Coordinator and Lead Researcher of the Global Urban Futures Project at The New School

Lena Simet is the Coordinator and Lead Researcher of the Global Urban Futures Project, a research center at The New School, as part of which she steered the design of the Habitat Commitment Index. Lena has been teaching courses on research design and data collection, housing, environmental economics, and the economics of regulation at the City University of New York and the New School, where she is also a doctoral candidate. Lena has worked in different capacities in Argentina, Kazakhstan, Mexico, the Philippines, and Uganda on urban projects with the ADB, CAF, Cities Alliance, the Green Climate Fund, UNDP, UN-Habitat, and GIZ. Lena has published chapters and articles on housing, informality, and urban economics, published by Cambridge University Press, Rowman & Littlefield, The Housing Studies Journal, and Environment and Urbanization.  

Dorcas Ansah, Accra Focal Cities Advisor at Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)

With 15 years of development experience and a background in designing and delivering adult learning programmes, Dorcas has worked extensively in facilitating processes, organizing development interventions, gender mainstreaming, monitoring and evaluation, as well as training and capacity-building at many levels—from the informal sector to civil society and parliament. She is a graduate of the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland OSD Center, the University of Ghana Legon, and the Central University College and Corporate Administration Institute of Professional Studies, with an MA in social policy. Dorcas is the Accra Focal City Coordinator for WIEGO, leading organizational development as well as capacity- and relationship-building work for membership-based organizations (MBOs) and stakeholders.

Paul Mukwaya, Senior Lecturer at Makerere University

Paul I. Mukwaya is a geographer with an interdisciplinary background and research interests at the interface of geography and society, urban systems analysis and transportation, policy and planning, and local economic development. Generally, his research and publications to date have focused on four core areas. Firstly, work is grounded in quantitative social sciences and address the institutional evolution and effectiveness of laws, regulations, and policies for the governance of environmental and landscape challenges. Secondly, he has paid attention to the transition to sustainable transportation, the political economy of transportation with an emphasis on innovations in planning and policy to manage travel demand in cities, Thirdly, he explores the processes of urbanization and contemporary problems of urban management across the East African region. Fourthly, work on cities and sustainability lies at the intersection of and implications of environmental change, policy and responses to changing urban systems. In addition to his academic work, he also continues to undertake consultancy assignments and author reports for a range of clients, including UNDP, UNCDF, UN-Habitat, World Resources Institute (WRI) the University of Manchester, and the Population Secretariat (Uganda).

Christopher Kang’ombe, Mayor of Kitwe, Zambia

Christopher Pikiti – Kang’ombe was born on the 25th of December, 1984 in Kitwe. Kang’ombe qualified to the Copperbelt University in 2004. During his first year at Zambia’s second largest public university, he was elected as a committee member for the Copperbelt University Students’ Union (COBUSU) at the age of 19. In 2005, Kang’ombe served as COBUSU Social and cultural Secretary and Secretary General before being elected as its President in 2006.

After his term of office as COBUSU President ended in 2006, Kang’ombe decided not to seek re-election but opted to contest for election as Ward Councilor for Riverside Ward in Kitwe’s Kwacha constituency which he won in the 2006 general elections. His appetite for public service grew while he was a student leader and by the time he was graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical/Mechanical Engineering in 2009, he was still serving as a civic leader. In 2011, he was re-elected to the same position and at the same time, finishing the authoring of this book.

Dr. Rene Peter Hohmann, Head of Global Programmes

Dr. Rene Peter Hohmann is the Head of Global Programmes at the Cities Alliance (CA) Secretariat. He joined the Cities Alliance/UNOPS in 2013 and was responsible for a global programme on Equitable Economic Growth in Cities, chaired by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). From 2004-2013, he worked as a policy officer and consultant for the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and advised various urban governance projects funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). As a professional and academic, he is eager to learn more about and share experiences on poverty oriented development approaches in secondary cities and particularly the effectiveness of area-based, integrated development approaches to address socio-economic deprivation. He taught urban planning courses at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and has an extensive research and consultancy experience in evaluating urban regeneration schemes in Europe and slum-upgrading programmes in rapidly urbanising countries. Rene holds a PhD in Geography from King's College London and a Master's degree in Social Sciences from Humboldt University in Berlin.


The event is hosted by the Cities Alliance Joint Work Programme (JWP) for Equitable Economic Growth in Cities. The JWP is chaired by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and its members are UN-Habitat, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), the Ford Foundation, the World Bank and the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Cities Alliance is the global partnership supporting cities to deliver sustainable development. Headquartered in Brussels, it is a unique partnership with diverse members – local authorities, national governments, international non-governmental organisations, foundations and multi-lateral organisations – which have come together to strengthen both impacts and coherence in urban development. Cities Alliance is hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

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