New Taipei City Wins 2016 Excellence in City Transformation Award; Harare Receives Honourable Mention

Cities Alliance sponsored the award as part of the Financial Times/International Finance Corporation (FT/IFC) Transformational Business awards for the second year running.

[24 June 2016] -- The city of New Taipei, Taiwan has won the 2016 Special Award for Excellence in City Transformation, which was sponsored by the Cities Alliance as part of the Financial Times/International Finance Corporation (FT/IFC) Transformational Business awards for the second year running.

New Taipei City is a newly established municipality that encircles Taiwan’s capital Taipei City. It was recognised for its comprehensive citywide transformation program that provides an excellent example of how to make new urban areas genuinely inclusive.  Innovative policies have included the Happiness Protection Station, which provides children of disadvantaged families with free meal boxes in convenience stores; the Department of Social Welfare can then collect the data and reach out to the families in need.

Most importantly, New Taipei’s vision of urbanisation is citizen-orientated and has encouraged public participation in effective governance. Local authorities have invited members of the public to be part of committees in major policy areas to enable citizens’ input at every stage of policy planning. It is also a holistic approach that incorporates numerous components, ranging from building up neglected areas to resilience and reaching out to vulnerable families.

Harare City Council was highly commended for its Harare Slum Upgrading Project, which was supported by the Cities Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project aims to promote inclusiveness in the housing sector inclusiveness and reinstall Council service delivery. This has been achieved in part by engaging the urban poor in slum upgrading processes, and mediating between increasingly active citizens and a stretched national government. Operating within a reform-starved, resource-stressed environment, Harare City Council has served as an invaluable example for other councils in Zimbabwe.

Judges were particularly impressed by how Harare is achieving results in an extraordinarily challenging environment. The local government has worked directly with communities and stakeholders, building new relationships and introducing significant reforms. Harare city was represented in London by Dr. Beth Chitekwe-Biti, Director of the Dialogue on Shelter for the Homeless in Zimbabwe Trust, a local non-governmental organisation that has been a key partner in the project. This alone is an indication of how strong the relationship between local authorities and community organisations has become.

A second Cities Alliance-supported project, from Mozambique, was on the short list for the award. Implemented by the municipality of Maputo, the project brought together grassroots organisations and local government to improve waste collection in the city – a new approach for Mozambique.

Recognising city innovation

The Excellence in City Transformation award recognises those cities that, since 2010, have demonstrated tangible progress towards citywide, integrated reforms in one or more of these five areas:

  • Environmental – Integrating the planning and management of natural resources, with positive impacts on climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, as well as disaster risk preparedness geared at the most vulnerable populations
  • Social – Demonstrating progress to promote an inclusive city that integrates gender equality, citizen participation with mutual rights and responsibilities
  • Governance – Showing progress in promoting an enabling environment for inclusive planning, responsive administration, and stable municipal finance with transparency and accountability
  • Economic – Facilitating an enabling environment to address formal and informal economic activities that improve livelihoods and promote long-term, equitable, sustainable economic growth
  • Services – Exhibiting progress in the citywide provision of, and access to, basic services such as housing, food, water, sanitation, energy, health and education

The Excellence in City Transformation award was presented at a ceremony in London on 9 June following a day-long conference on private sector support for development programmes, especially in Africa.

For the Cities Alliance, sponsoring the award for the second year in a row was a chance to draw international attention to cities that are trying innovative, citywide approaches to promoting inclusive growth for all citizens.

Cities Alliance was a very visible partner in the awards; the Secretariat participated in the judges’ panel for the Excellence in City Transformation award, and Director William Cobbett served as a judge for all the other award categories.

It was also an excellent opportunity for the partnership build on last year’s event and connect with new constituencies that are becoming increasingly important in development, particularly in the private sector. The FT/IFC Transformational Business awards were sponsored by the Omidyar Network, which has excellent connections throughout the private sector.

  New Taipei City receiving the award for Excellence in City Transformation from Cities Alliance Director William Cobbett. Photo: FT/IFC

  Dr. Beth Chitekwe-Biti, Director of the Dialogue on Shelter for the Homeless in Zimbabwe Trust, accepting the Honorable Mention on behalf of Harare City Council. Photo: FT/IFC

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