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Rome, 23 Jan 14

Angelo Larocca/Dipartimento Programmazione e Attuazione Urbanistica - Roma Capitale.
For two days last week, thirty experts from around the world gathered in Rome for an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the theme of public space in the global agenda for sustainable development.

The main objectives of the meeting were to discuss UN-Habitat’s policy approach and strategy on public space, and to refine a planned Global Toolkit on Public Space.

The meeting was organized by UN-Habitat in partnership with the Italian National Planning Institute (INU), with the support of the City of Rome and its Department for Urban Transformation. Experts, professionals,administrators, local governments officials, community-based organizations and researchers from different disciplines, cultural and geographical backgrounds, contributed and enriched the process of formalizing the policy/strategy.

Angelo Larocca/Dipartimento Programmazione e Attuazione Urbanistica - Roma Capitale.
The city of Rome itself offered several opportunities for dialogue and appraisal on the theme during the working sessions, which combined intense debates with thematic sessions and guided visits through the renaissance, baroque, modern and contemporary public spaces and recent projects in Rome, thus providing an opportunity to discuss challanges, opportunities and lessons learned from recent and past experiences of the host city.

Since 2013, UN-Habitat has been implementing a global Program on Public Space. The program espouses quality of urban life as being essential for cities to prosper; thus, cities that improve the quality of life for their citizens experience higher levels of prosperity; they are also likely to find themselves more advanced in terms of sustainability. Such cities strive towards social equity by generalizing access to urban commons and public goods, expanding the scope for improved quality of life for all. Cities that re-evaluate their notion of the ‘public’ and thereby provide street space, green areas, parks, recreation facilities and other public spaces demonstrate a committment to an improved quality of life. By sustaining and improving the use of public spaces, they also enhance community cohesion and civic identity.

The collaboration between UN-Habitat and INU started in 2012 on the occasion of the sixth session of the World Urban Forum held in Naples, Italy and was subsequently formalized last May with the signature of an agreement during the second edition of the Biennial of Public Space organized by INU in Rome.

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