[24 November 2010] -- The new Cities Alliance 2010 Annual Report focuses on the process of transition which informed the Alliance’s operations during the period under review, and which culminated in the adoption of a new business model better aligned with the Alliance’s strategic goal of working as a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and the promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development.
The transitional process was not sudden nor was it restricted to the year under review. Rather, it was a seamless chain reaction which had been catalysed by a number of factors arising from Alliance operations over the years, including the implementation of its Medium Term Strategy 2008 – 2010, emerging trends in urbanisation and the urban debate, the new aid architecture and development aid debates fuelled by the Paris Aid declaration and its Accra refinements. All these were further framed by the processes of evaluation of strategic goal and objectives occasioned by the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Alliance, marked during the Mumbai Consultative Group meetings.
According to William Cobbett, Manager, Cities Alliance, “This has been an important and transitional year of Cities Alliance with a number of significant developments. After a period of intensive and constructive discussion amongst our members, the contours of our future directions are becoming ever more clear.”
Salient features of this new business direction are:
- Support for longer term programmatic engagement with communities and national and local governments;
- Support for activities that are structured within and enhance a favorable national urban policy environment;
- Support for activities that are prepared with wide-ranging stakeholder consultations; and
- Support for activities which have the potential for catalytic effects and far reaching impacts and scale.
The City is positioned squarely as the primary entry point for this support, the ultimate goal being to catalyse transformative processes towards inclusive cities, providing space, voice and opportunities for all including the urban poor.
To more strategically frame this process the Alliance has adapted its slum upgrading and city development strategy partnership instruments into four new work programme pillars: Catalytic Funds, Country Programmes, Knowledge and Learning and Communications and Advocacy.
Briefly explained - Country programmes are longer term, demand-oriented interventions uniquely customised to the urban contexts of selected low income countries and achieved through the institutionalisation of dialogue and operational partnerships to enable transformation towards inclusive cities.
Replacing the old open access grant facility and to be launched early in 2011, Catalytic Funds or Cat Funds grants will be awarded within a competitive call for proposals framework to provide more targeted and results oriented support to cities attempting transformative change. Cat Funds will also advance the collective know-how of all city drivers by sharing knowledge and experiences with broader audience sets.
A more systematic Knowledge and Learning programme will focus on experiences and case studies of transformative processes engendering more sustainable urbanisation. The primary instrument for leveraging Cities Alliance knowledge within this new framework are ongoing and future Joint Work Programmes (JWPs) between Cities Alliance members and partners. These will leverage Alliance members’ comparative advantages in certain urban sectors to generate more coordinated and strategic approaches to knowledge and learning in these sectors, including climate change, city development strategies and integrated urban environmental planning.
Finally, a programmatic and streamlined Communications and Advocacy will more strategically support the other three work programme pillars to facilitate achievement of results, capture and disseminate the knowledge and learning arising therefrom. This will be complimented by a stronger focus on advocacy with the goal of changing mindsets and behavior to facilitate the processes of transformation towards inclusive cities.
The transitional process notwithstanding the Alliance approved US$16 million in grants for project activities for the year under review, the highest amount since 2006. A total of 38 projects were approved with increasing numbers of these reflecting the Alliance’s shift towards longer term, programmatic commitments that raise the profile of cities and slums and support transformation.
The transitional process is also reflected in the overall physical design and presentation of the report. At only 44 pages the new report is slimmer, leaner and bereft of the high design values that have characterised Cities Alliance reports so far. With its new lean, mean and more targeted outlook, the report itself portends the new way forward for the Alliance.
The full report is available for downloading at www.citiesalliance.org