3 Feb. 2011: Introducing (i) the Urbanization Knowledge Platform; (ii) Making Room for a Planet of Cities

3 February 2011

Dear Members of the Consultative Group,
This email comprises two separate but related pieces of information, both of which are related to the topic of urbanisation, and the work and mandate of the Cities Alliance.
1. The Urbanization Knowledge Platform
For some time, the World Bank has been grappling with the challenge of trying to make better use of the vast amounts of information and knowledge that it generates, and to position itself more strategically with respect to the sharing of knowledge with its clients and partners. As part of a wider Reform process, the Bank recently established a Knowledge Council, which has been tasked with taking forward this knowledge agenda.
Earlier in January, the Knowledge Council met to consider applications to establish the first set of three Knowledge Platforms (KPs), selected on a competitive basis from within the Bank.
The FEU department, within which the Cities Alliance is located, was integrally involved, as were the operational regions, and Africa in particular, in sponsoring Urbanisation as a theme.  Buoyed by a very powerful presentation by Junaid Ahmad (AFTUW) and Abha Joshi Ghani (Urban Anchor), and with the full support and presence of the Urban and Sector Board, Urbanisation was selected as one of Bank's the three Knowledge Platforms (KP). The other two that were selected will address ICT, and Green Growth.
What does this mean?
Based on the decision of the Knowledge Council, improving global knowledge and understanding Urbanisation is now a corporate priority of the World Bank for the period 2011-2013, with a modest budget which can be used to leverage other resources. A core group has been established to manage this KP, upon which I will represent the Cities Alliance. There is widespread agreement amongst the members of this group, and within the Bank more generally that, to be successful, the Bank really does need to provide a Platform, and seek the very active and visible engagement of a range of partners.
In my view, this is a perfect and extremely well-timed opportunity for Cities Alliance members to play a very active and supportive partnership role in this very welcome World Bank initiative. Below, please find attached two versions of the concept note - the longer version prepared for the internal audience, and a shorter version for a quicker read.
I wish to stress that the possible features, products and modalities of the Urbanisation Knowledge Platform are still very much being designed. We anticipate that the Bank will attempt to reach out to partners through a series of launches in each of the (Bank's) six regions, all of which are due to be completed before the end of June 2011. We have also suggested that the Bank could also make very effective use of existing events planned by CA members, most obviously the forthcoming UN-Habitat Governing Council in April, other meetings planned by our members, as well as CA meetings themselves. 
I will be very pleased to hear any responses to this opportunity, and to suggestions that you would wish for us to pass on to our colleagues here at the Bank. Obviously, the Bank will also be reaching out to your organisations on a bilateral basis, and not only through the Cities Alliance. In the first instance, Zoubida and I have discussed the importance of using the opportunity presented by the forthcoming EXCO meeting in Washington, on 10th and 11th March, to have a practical discussion on how the CA could collaborate.
By combining this Knowledge Platform with other initiatives, such as the World Urban Forum, the World Urban Campaign, the Global City Indicators Facility, University networks, etc, we may finally have a chance - as an urban family - to have a decisive influence on the global debate.
2. Making Room for a Planet of Cities
On January 27th, the Lincoln Land Institute, Cities Alliance and World Bank co-hosted the launch of a new publication, entitled Making Room for Planet of Cities. This landmark research was presented by its lead author, Shlomo (Solly) Angel, who presented the findings of his research that had originally been commissioned by the World Bank in 2005, and subsequently supported by the Cities Alliance, amongst other partners. Those of you who attended the 2006 CG meeting in Washington DC may recall the presentation Solly made in our Public Policy Forum.
This important research has now been presented in a simplified and shortened format, which should make it more readily accessible to a wider audience.

Members who wish to receive hard copies should please inform Chii Akporji (cakporji@citiesalliance.org), our Communications Officer, and she will arrange for copies to be despatched to you.

With my best wishes,






William Cobbett
Cities Alliance
1818H Street, NW
Washington DC