Our first steps in Asia

Education, SmileUrbo

In September 2015, the United Nations adopted their Sustainable Development Goals in New York, USA.

Half of the world´s population live in cities (by 2030 the number will grow to 70%). For this reason, cities play a leading role in reaching the sustainable development of the planet.

UCLG-ASPC together with UCLG and with the support of ILO organized a workshop in Negombo (Sri Lanka) from the 9th to the 12th of December to work with representatives from the cities in the Asian & Pacific region on bringing sustainable development to the local level.

UCLG has invited us to run a workshop based on SmileUrbo with the representatives from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and South Korea as well as experts from the Netherlands, Philippines, Spain and South Africa.

The event was held in the City Hall of Negombo, where 40 participants from diverse cultural backgrounds cooperated to solve problems of the virtual villages.

Through our role playing game we have created an atmosphere of trust between participants that lead to better exchange of needs, good practices and expectations.

As a lesson learned form the game, other participants reflected on how objective indicators of development and transparency are crucial for good decision-making. They also emphasized that better co-operation and collaboration between local stakeholders could lead to greater gains when engaging with external stakeholders (like investors or the private sector).

The UCLG workshop in Sri Lanka was not only our first experience in Asia, but also for the first time we have used the game to work with high officials. To see how, despite all the differences, they managed to get involved in a successful decision making was highly rewarding for us.

As Mr. Kesarralal Gunasekera, the Mayor of Negombo said after playing the game “We can improve the dynamics of our council meetings through the UCLG SmileUrbo role play. I understood that we need to involve more local stakeholder and encourage active participation.”

Let’s hope for more occasions to work with local authorities around the world and more outcomes like those from Negombo.