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06 State of the Cities Reporting-Good Practice Guide and Toolkit

06 State of the Cities Reporting-Good Practice Guide and Toolkit

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01/12/2012

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An appropriate institutional home is fundamental to an effective state of cities reporting
process. Institutional homes vary from country to country; they include the following:

National government (e.g. Scotland)
A single government department (e.g. the Department of Housing and Urban
Development in the United States of America)

A purposely set up think-tank (e.g. for the State of the World’s Cities Report and the
Washington State reports)

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an ad hoc team of academics appointed as a project team by a government department
(e.g. England).

The South African Cities Network (SACN), the home of the South African State of Cities
reports, provides a particularly good model of an institutional home for a State of Cities
reporting process. SACN has a membership that includes the municipalities of nine big cities
in South Africa. It is not a government agency, but rather a not-for-profit organisation
accountable to a board of directors. Although the board consists of politicians and officials
from the nine cities and representatives of the Minister of Provincial and Local Government
and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), SACN is not a
representative structure. It has a degree of autonomy and independence, which enables it to
have a different point of view from government. As an autonomous body with strong links to
local and national government, SACN is an appropriate institutional home for a reporting
process, such as the South African Cities one, which aims to provide a comprehensive
overview of issues facing large cities and to raise the awareness of decision-makers about
the urban agenda.

While there should be one institutional home for the State of Cities report, various
organisations should be involved in setting it up and driving the reporting process. In the
case of South Africa, SACN works closely with its nine member municipalities and its
partners and sponsors, which include SALGA, DPLG, DBSA, SIDA, USAID and DANIDA.

The issue of an institutional home is closely linked to the issue of funding. The reporting
process requires funding for a range of operational aspects and also for capacity-building. If
adequate financial resources are not available, the process will be in danger of failing owing
to, for example, lack of stakeholder participation, effective implementation, facilitation and
information dissemination.

For the ongoing collection and analysis of data relating to cities (which is essential for many
reasons), the best institutional option would seem to be a National Urban Observatory
(NUO) and extended network of Local Urban Observatories (LUOs), modelled on UN-
HABITAT’s Global Urban Observatory. Relevant stakeholders (such as data collection
agencies and research institutions) should be involved in the establishment of the LUOs in
the various cities and the NUO as a joint venture. Other stakeholders who are involved in the
collection of city-level data (such as municipalities and various other government bodies)
should also be involved in some way. Wherever possible, NUOs and LUOs should build on
existing initiatives and be hosted by existing institutions. The institutional home for the State
of Cities report should have a close relationship with the NUOs/LUOs and be able to input
into the data that it collects and holds, and have unquestioning access to its data.

The collection and management of the data should be centrally co-ordinated. However, the
analysis and interpretation of the data, and the subsequent write-up
should involve a wide range of subject specialists and resource persons. By doing so, thr
reporting process will be able to draw on a wider base of relevant, reliable and up-to-date
data and in-depth analysis and understandings.98

The institutional home for the State of
Cities reporting process should be part of the steering committee(s) guiding the data
collection and analysis, so that it can input into the selection of data that is collected and the
identification of research projects and selection of researchers.

The consolidation of existing funding sources and/or acquisition of new funding sources,
especially those which can commit for several years, would be required to fund the proposed
programmes.

98

The close relationship with universities should also help to identify emerging issues and trends which might form themes or
case study boxes in the State of Cities report.

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