Talking serious steps towards building “Tomorrow’s Liveable Cities”

Talking serious steps towards building “Tomorrow’s Liveable Cities”
Jul 2020 , by , in Press Room

Arthan, a social enterprise that provides capacity building support to social sector organisations, launched ‘Building Civil Society Organisations of the Future’, on 22nd June 2020 with ‘The Future of Fundraising’ track. This was followed by the ‘Future of Jobs’, ‘Future of Education’ and most recently, Women’s Leadership in the Development Sector (WLIDS) track, which was in collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation.

This online-to-offline initiative, which is long term, future-oriented and multi-stakeholder has seen the participation of 1367 participants and 100+ speakers from organisations including The Rockefeller Foundation, Centre for Policy Research, Ford Foundation, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Boston Consulting Group, SEWA Bharat, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, EdelGive Foundation, Mann Deshi  Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Tata Trusts, Dasra, Pratham, Grameen Foundation, Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives, UNICEF India, Ashoka and  IKEA Foundation amongst others. “We need to start looking inwards. This is the start of a new chapter for civil society. It is in our darkest hour that we realise who we really are. And I am confident that we can come together and build societies and organisations to build the future”, said Moutushi Sengupta, MacArthur Foundation while delivering the Keynote address at the Future of Fundraising track.

On July 30th and 31st, Arthan is bringing the Tomorrow’s Liveable Cities track in collaboration with BORDA, and knowledge partnership with Nagrika. The World Bank estimates India’s urban population to cross 800 million by 2030 while the urban infrastructure spending grows simultaneously, there is little focus on how to holistically address the challenges in creating inclusive, liveable and sustainable cities that can support India’s ambitions. This track will explore how urban management can be made more effective in India to create liveable, happy cities thereby raising the quality of life of all urban Indians. Some eminent speakers for this track include Naina Lal Kidwai (Ex – CEO & Country Head, HSBC India, and Chair, India Sanitation Coalition), Arun Maira (Former India Chairman, BCG & Former Member, Planning Commission of India), Bharati Chaturvedi (Chintan), Kartik Desai (Asha Impact), Tikender Singh (Ex-Deputy Mayor, Shimla) and Mai Flor (WaterLinks) among others.

Over 120 million out of the 500 million Indians who live or work in Indian cities, live in slums. Even beyond the condition of these slums, Indian cities have poor water and sewerage services, poor solid waste management systems, troubled housing and public transportation, and weak under-funded municipalities. The amalgamation of these issues drastically affects the quality of living for every person in urban India, but its effects on the poor, marginalized and differently-abled, however, are dire and far-reaching.

The last three decades of urban development have furthered the gap between the privileged and the poor, by erecting structures that resulted in hyper-commodification of land, marginalisation of the poor and an increased informality of labour and life. The pandemic has further increased this disparity, simultaneously exposing the lack of an urban safety net and the extreme vulnerability of the marginalised poor.

Globally, discussions about sustainable urbanization have been a priority for many years or decades now. The most liveable cities of the world are in rich countries and have systems and resources that are not available to our country. Indian cities will, therefore, have to define what ‘liveable’ means in our specific context and create a vision that is inspiring and achievable, for India’s urbanization journey. Without such a vision, it is difficult to take meaningful steps or commit the requisite resources to move in the right direction.

While the problems are well known, we envision the ‘Tomorrow’s Liveable Cities’ track at ‘Building Civil Society Organisations of the Future’, 2020 to explore how urban management and services can be made more effective in India, and set achievable goals for improving health, reducing stress, raising equality and building robust economies, while protecting and improving our environment. The track also aims to understand how NGOs, businesses, municipalities and citizens can play a role in improving urban planning, management and services to raise the quality of life and happiness of all urban Indians.

Through the Building Civil Society Organisations of the Future initiative, Arthan seeks to address ecosystem challenges and opportunities, in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, progress towards which has been pushed back as a result of the pandemic. The initiative will run from June 2020 to December 2021, and is meant to co-create solutions, co-evolve out of the pandemic, and define the future of civil society organisations in India. The program is bringing together experts, practitioners, and thought leaders across themes including but not limited to gender, climate change, strategy, governance and capacity building. This constantly evolving universe will bring together 3,000 speakers and build the capacity of 10,000 CSOs across sectors, over the next two years.

Satyam Vyas, Founder & CEO, Arthan says, “The world is reeling under a pandemic and question marks have been placed on the future – of individuals, organisations, countries and the world economy. Conversations about scripting a new normal have become the norm. But we have to script the new normal now, and define it for the next decade if we want to achieve the development goals.”

With this thought at the centre, Arthan’s social impact initiative seeks to create a collaborative of those working towards accelerating progress, creating a space for dialogue and actionable steps. In the first phase from June-October 2020, Arthan is convening this ecosystem where all social sector leaders voice their opinion – leaders who have ‘walked the talk’ time and again and who can guide the sector to move towards the right direction. The convenings and sessions that are a part of this long-term initiative, will be open to people from around the world and will have sessions based on a freemium model.


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