India’s Ministry of Urban Development and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) organised a roundtable on the Peer Experience and Reflective Learning (PEARL) programme in New Delhi last month.

Established in 2007, the PEARL programme aims to create networks between cities for cross-learning and knowledge-sharing on urban reforms and city governance.

It is part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM), a massive fast-track city modernisation initiative launched by the Indian government in 2005. The JnNURM initiative currently includes 63 cities across the country.

The main purpose of the roundtable, which was held at NIUA on December 4, 2008, was to discuss the contents of a PEARL web portal, the India Urban Portal ( Once completed, the new portal will serve as a reference for best practices in planning, projects, reforms, accessible data/resources, and other innovations. It also aims to become a forum for knowledge sharing and discussion.

A number of Indian and international organisations attended the roundtable, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Water and Sanitation Program- South Asia (WSP-SA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), JnNURM’s technical cell, the All India Institute of Local Self Government-Mumbai, Mega Cities Association, Kolkata, ICELO, Bhopal Municipal Corporation, the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) in Ahmedabad, and Nagar Nigam Agra.

The Cities Alliance Secretariat was represented at the event by South Asia Regional Adviser Ajay Suri. Cities Alliance member the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also attended.

PEARL’s primary activities include:

  • Helping Knowledge Managers and partners document successful examples in project development, financing, construction and reforms under JnNURM;
  • Setting up a website and publishing newsletters to facilitate the exchange of information and innovation;
  • Helping Knowledge Managers and partners organise workshops to exchange experiences and lessons learned;
  • Organising a national workshop on the programme.

The NIUA has been nominated by the Ministry of Urban Development to serve as national coordinator for the PEARL programme.

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