Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar

safer cities
Thirteen participants from cities across the Asia Pacific region joined the knowledge exchange seminar for Asian Cities that was successfully held from November 17-19, 2015 in Seoul, aimed to improve the liveability of cities and quality of life through a multi-level government and multi-sectoral. This seminar is part of the UN-Habitat’s Safer Cities Programme.

The first session was delivered by the lead of Safer Cities Programme of UN-Habitat, Mr. Juma Assiago, on the overview of the UN-Habitat Safer Cities Programme and the Global Network on Safer Cities (GNSC) aimed at facilitating a better understanding of UN-Habitat’s 20 years of work and the GNSC’s 2012-2016 work plan. It was then followed by a presentation from the UN-Habitat Safer Cities National Consultant Ms. Hélène Dupré discussing about Safer Cities Process at the national level.

In addition, this seminar gave the opportunities to the participating local authorities and urban stakeholders to learn about Seoul’s policies and projects related to urban safety, such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), IT safety project and Making Seoul a Safer City for Women Project.

Seoul city further shared its experience in crime prevention by showing them the pilot area for the CPTED in Mapo-Gu. Through this project, nicknamed the Salt Way, the solutions to crime problems have been developed and implemented with and by the community. One collaborative activity resulted in the Salt Way, a well-lit fitness circuit that was attractively designed and equipped with innovative security tools. Seoul city also invited participants to observe the Seoul Transport Operation and Information Service (TOPIS), the general transport control center for operating and managing Seoul’s overall traffic situation.

Not only learning Seoul’s successful projects, participants were also invited to present their cities’ good practices in crime prevention and urban safety. A dynamic discussion was held to identify strong and weak points in each city, to promote future city-to-city cooperation.

This seminar has become a platform to introduce the Global Network on Safer Cities and the available urban safety tools and products for purposes of adaptation, possible piloting and launching in Asian cities. UN-Habitat launched this network in 2012 to further consolidate and systematize experiences on safer cities, subsequently a Global Steering Committee of the GNSC was established in 2013, and the Mayor of Seoul was appointed as a regional-co-chair representing the Asia Pacific Region.

For more information about CityNet’s efforts to promote safer cities in Asia Pacific click here.

Global Network on Safer Cities in the Asia Pacific Region

Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar
As part of the UN-Habitat’s Safer Cities Programme, UN-Habitat, Seoul Metropolitan Government and CityNet jointly organized the Knowledge Exchange Seminar on Urban Safety for Asian Cities in Seoul from November17-19. This seminar has become a platform to introduce the Global Network on Safer Cities launched in 2012.

More information here.

To read the full report about this seminar click here

Safer Cities Programme
CityNet is working with UN-Habitat’s Safer Cities Programme in conjunction with Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) to improve urban safety in Asian cities. In June 2015 a delegation from UN-Habitat headquarters visited Seoul to strengthen the existing cooperation between SMG, CityNet and UN-Habitat. The Communique on Safer Cities in Asia summarizes the efforts of the joint approach. Seoul has successfully implemented strategies and best practice projects related to urban safety which will be shared as a first step to promote cooperation in this field among CityNet members. The Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities will help accelerating progress in the development of the safer cities approach in the Asia Pacific Region.

1. Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities
2. Background: urban safety through local government capacity building
3. Further information
4. Contact points

Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities

safer cities
CityNet is collaborating with Seoul Metropolitan Government and UN-Habitat to organize the first Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities to be held at the end of 2015 in Seoul, South Korea.

This seminar is the first step for Asian cities towards the development of norms and standards for crime prevention and urban safety for local governments in Asia. It will provide an excellent opportunity for chief technical officials in city planning and management to cooperate and exchange knowledge in urban safety. It is also an opportunity for city officials to engage with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other regional stakeholders in the development and implementation of the UN Guidelines on Safer Cities.

This seminar aims to prepare participants for enhanced policy planning, decision making and practical implementation in preventing and reducing crime and violence situations. It aims to:

  • Deepen participants’ understanding of the salient and interlinked challenges of safety/security and urban development in today’s complex urban environment, within a framework of human and state security; and in particular:
  • Introduce the safer cities approach and tools;
  • Showcase the use of one of the safer cities tools: the city safety audit tool using mobile technology – the safetipin tool
  • Further discuss modalities for development of safer cities guidelines and accompanying training/curriculum development on urban safety and implementation for local authorities;
  • Establish a broad regional framework of action for the creation of safer cities in Asia

The seminar seeks to:

  • Examine crime and violence in urban settings globally and relate it to the regional context.
  • Identify the main challenges and critically analyze their causes and consequences.
  • Evaluate existing responses and articulate alternative and more effective ones for the region.
  • Provide an open regional exchange towards developing regional guidelines and handbook on safer cities.

Background: urban safety through local government capacity building

Safer cities picture700
For the last decade, the UN-HABITAT Safer Cities Programme has been spearheading urban crime prevention approaches in cities in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. It has developed crime prevention activities at the local, regional and global level, proposing adapted responses in the different local contexts, and providing an important learning opportunity for the international community and the various cities themselves.

Historically, the Asia Pacific Region has always been considered as the world’s safest region, with its globally lowest reported crime rates. Recent evidences and preliminary needs assessments, however, suggest that lack of safety is indeed emerging as a priority issue in some cities of the region.

While it is the prevailing assumption that poverty leads to crime, it is important to note that the poor are more exposed and adversely impacted by crime and the fear of insecurity. The lack of income and productive assets means that the poor cannot afford protection, such as physically secure housing. The poor tend to live and work in less serviced locations, where, for example, street lighting is minimal. The lack of voice means that the poor get less effective services from the police or other authorities. At the same time, crime and the fear of insecurity erode the poor’s human, social, physical and natural capital, making it harder to escape poverty. Even a relatively minor crime can have devastating impacts on the poor’s livelihood.

Traditionally, national governments and the justice systems have been responsible for responding to crime and insecurity. Now, it is widely recognized that they alone are often ill-equipped to respond to localized problems of safety, particularly when it concerns the poor. Their contribution is crucial in repression and in addressing organized and larger crimes. Given their limited resources, they cannot, however, be expected to deal with crime prevention, or to tackle causes of local crime and inter-personal violence.

Alternative strategies that complement traditional criminal justice responses, stress the critical role local governments can play. Undoubtedly, local governments are in the best position to understand the unique dynamics of the communities they serve; and hence, are well suited to initiate local programs that address urban safety with and for the community.

Despite their crucial role, however, there are currently three major bottlenecks hindering local governments:

  • Unavailability of consolidated regional knowledge, tools, and networks on urban safety for all citizens
  • Limited understanding of urban local governments’ critical role in improving urban safety with and for all citizens, particularly the poor
  • Limited practical skills/experiences in implementing urban safety programs with and for all citizens, particularly the poor

Based on the above, the joint collaboration between UN-Habitat Safer Cities Programme, CityNet, UCLG-ASPAC and the Seoul Metropolitan Government is proposed to assist urban local governments and their partners in initiating effective urban safety programs with and for all citizens through the following three-pronged strategy:

  • Development of a consolidated regional knowledge base, network, and toolkit on urban safety for all, tailored to local governments and their partners
  • Sensitization and advocacy on the local governments’ critical role in improving urban safety for the poor
  • Development of hands-on, practical skills to implement effective urban safety programs with and for all citizens, particularly the poor

The Safer Cities Knowledge Exchange Seminar for Asian Cities is the first step into facing the challenge of safer cities through urban crime prevention in Asia. Join us!

Further information


Contact Points

CityNet, Sayel Cortes
UN-Habitat, Juma Assiago