Yangon faces a number of inseparable challenges, while the different sectors in the city are starting to approach them as also deeply interrelated. Despite the recent growing interest internationally in the city, rapid urbanisation, coupled with challenging urban legislative frameworks mean that foreign investment interest is still limited, and has yet to reach capital growth levels of many other cities in the region. One way to further promote this growth is by bringing together traditionally disparate communities of practice to find areas of common interest and dialogue that can build a case for non-traditional growth models.
This was exactly the case for the recent Yangon City Charette of the UKFCO Global Future Cities Programme (GFCP). On 31 August, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and strategic partner, UN-Habitat, launched the Yangon City Charette, which brought together over 50 professionals from the fields of both heritage and flood resilience, and all sectors including government, business, academia and NGOs.
The GFC—under the Prosperity Fund—aims to address transport, urban planning and resilience in 19 cities around the world. In Myanmar, Yangon is the targeted city with focus on heritage in urban development and flood resilience. In particular, the programme aims to assist city planning by developing integrated interventions on heritage in urban development and flood resilience. The primary objectives of the Programme include helping cities grow in a sustainable manner, improving residents' quality of life, addressing poverty and improving gender equality. Additionally, the Programme aims to create two-way investment and trade opportunities with international businesses.
The programme is currently in its Strategic Development Phase implemented by a global team with UN-Habitat as strategic partner. Partners include the UK Built Environment Advisory Group (UKBEAG) as the professional partner and the International Growth Centre IGC) as the academic partner. During this phase, the final interventions under the two thematic areas will be clearly defined and the Statement of Requirements will be developed. From November the programme will enter the Implementation Phase which will include a procurement process towards the end of 2018 and beginning of the on the ground work by mid-2019.
In order to determine a direction for this work, the Charette was held as a participatory action research workshop that helped further define the approach and interventions for the programme in accordance to the programme's objectives through consultation with a large group of key stakeholders including Union and local level government, donor agencies, development partners, academia and the business sector.
Participants heard a number of presentations which gave background on both issues, and were subsequently requested to provide input on the importance of an integrated approach to both heritage and flood resilience.
Several key conclusions emerged from the workshop. The biggest challenge identified was coordination among different stakeholders and how no common platform exists for exchanging information on integrated urban planning and resilience work. It was also highly recommended that the proposed interventions include a tangible 'showcase' project that can then be taken up by relevant stakeholders and replicated. In addition, it can be used to garner buy-in from stakeholders for further urban plans, frameworks and government processes.
A final key recommendation that emerged was the importance of Build-Operate-Train-Transfer components being employed in cross-sectoral projects. This ensures strong embedded capacity that arises in all actors as a result of a project, and also that can be leveraged for further activities.
In early November, a validation workshop will be held where the identified interventions will be presented to local leadership, and feedback will be provided that will inform the final proposed intervention. The geographic scope of the interventions remains to be seen, but many participants have expressed a strong commitment to continue their input and engagement with the integration of these two often disparate sectors. This can only be done through projects that build strong ties between sectors and encourage action of issues of urban planning with an integrated approach.
More information on the Prosperity Fund:
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