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We offer a tried and tested methodology with hands-on application. Our services can be provided through a range of programmes, from larger national or local investments to smaller initiatives such as an Urban Sustainability Review or training programmes on various scales and topics.

City projects
A city project supports the development of an urban area in a more sustainable and inclusive direction. City projects are driven by local actors to ensure that the knowledge and experience obtained is maintained and institutionalised locally. The objective is to better equip cities to address urban challenges, focusing on sustainability throughout – from preparation to implementation and results.

Targeted capacity development
Based on the specific needs and interests of targeted countries, capacity development programmes are tailored to develop knowledge and competence in urban sustainability at various levels of society. The training targets urban development professionals in local and regional governments, strengthening their capacity to deal effectively with urban planning, development and management.

As part of our overall objective to influence urban development policies and processes globally, we disseminate experience from our projects to a wider audience of urban stakeholders at global, regional, national and local levels. This is done mainly through networking and sharing of best practices and information materials as well as through development of hands-on methodologies.

What can we do for you?

Urban sustainability reviews

The urban sustainability review is a process, a tool and a product through which various urban stakeholders jointly explore the city from a holistic perspective. This is an inclusive way of identifying key urban sustainability issues that the city needs to address, as well as its key assets and opportunities, which should be leveraged in development projects and actions.

The review provides a diagnosis of the current situation and identifies the needs, challenges and opportunities of the urban area. Key urban sustainability issues are then selected accordingly. This is often a necessary first step in the SymbioCity process, after which visions, strategies and appropriate urban development actions can be addressed.

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Visions and urban development strategies

Cities need a long-term approach to achieve sustainable urban development. This requires clear visions, goals and strategies that balance different needs, demands and priorities. Any vision – for the entire city or an area within – must be context-driven and developed with the participation of all segments of the population, including both men and women, youth, children and vulnerable groups.

Buy-in to this vision will ensure greater inclusiveness and ownership, as well as new perspectives and information. SymbioCity supports cities in developing visions, goals and strategies for the short, medium and long term improvement of urban areas and different sectors. Gender and pro-poor perspectives are integrated to ensure an inclusive approach.

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Developing integrated and inclusive solutions

Challenges and problems in urban areas are often very complex. Integrated and inclusive solutions are needed, together with a programmatic approach to urban improvement rather than single-sector projects. A diagnosis of the current situation together with definition of objectives and targets serves as a basis for identifying and formulating alternative development proposals. There is often a wide range of relevant and innovative options. Solutions should exploit synergies between different urban systems and should be evaluated for their sustainability and flexibility, given the need for investments to remain relevant for many years.

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Supporting the implementation of urban improvements

Moving from visions and plans to action can be difficult. It is one thing to identify possible solutions and another to implement them on the ground. Achieving change and tangible results often requires a mix of “hardware” and “software”, as well as political and financial support. Urban improvements can be initiated during a SymbioCity project, though this requires continuous commitment from a city to ensure long-term sustainability. SymbioCity supports the implementation of integrated and inclusive proposals that have been developed through the SymbioCity process. Such support may include process support, technical assistance and, in some cases, the financing of demonstration projects.

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Capacity development of urban stakeholders

Strengthening people’s capacities and abilities at the local level is an important precondition for a city’s ability to take control of its own development and to work towards sustainability. SymbioCity contributes to capacity development by strengthening the knowledge and competence of local representatives and officials, promoting interdisciplinary and participatory working procedures, identifying the key institutional frameworks needed to achieve urban sustainability and facilitating cooperation and knowledge sharing among local, regional and national stakeholders.

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Support to urban leadership

Political leaders and decision makers are crucial in moving urban development forward. Sustainable urban development depends on committed, inspiring and capable leadership. Swedish and global experiences of sustainable leadership, including recommendations on key aspects to address, are laid out in a SymbioCity guide for decision-makers called Get Started, Move Forward. The publication is based on discussions and workshops with political leaders and decision makers from around the world. The guide is used in capacity development programmes and workshops to raise awareness of the importance of involving political leaders and decision makers in sustainable urban development. It also provides practical advice on more effective and inclusive leadership to foster change at local level.

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Ready to collaborate

SymbioCity is a dynamic concept. It can be applied in a single street or an entire agglomeration, in selected regions or nationwide. It is easily adjusted to suit your local parameters and to find your own entry point. Cherry-pick the ideas and components that work best in your context and use them to benefit your community. SymbioCity can be used by public and private actors alike. By local government, utilities, private business and other stakeholders. An approach that is open – and beneficial – to all.