Andreas von Zadow, managing partner of VON ZADOW INTERNATIONAL, Germany, organized a workshop on Participatory Planning Processes at Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry on January 17, 2019. VON ZADOW INTERNATIONAL trains and guides by using participatory methodologies and clearly structured events. They initiate and encourage positive change processes so that individuals and organizations will save time and achieve quicker and better results. For the last 35 years, Andreas has been continuously been engaged in developmental projects with an emphasis on planning and successful execution processes.
He made a presentation on how the process of planning should start and how it is pro-vital to include every participant right from the beginning. This inclusive process of planning not only helps in avoiding repetitions in the process, but also helps in bringing consensus from all the stakeholders. This kind of linear planning makes people come together and an integrated community planning can be formulated. There needs to be an overlap of understanding, creativity and engagement while designing any output. Andreas narrated it by giving three examples:
- In 1965, the American idea of collaboration started when different stake holders were asked to develop an urban planning programme.
- Collaborative effort in Germany, where about 55 different parties came and worked together to map water and green bodies of a region, so that a sustainable living could be evolved. This planning helped in bringing more focus to the green lungs of the city while planning.
- The case of Auroville where different planning setups such as forests, social businesses, agriculture, water bodies, weather conditions, grey-water recycling, living spaces were designed in a harmonious manner to bring the environment, living spaces and spirituality on a common ground.
It was also mentioned that a strong emphasis should be laid on public opinion, as public consensus brings ownership of the idea and hence more participation, so that plans do not get rejected at a later stage.
The citizens should be engaged in some significant questions such as ISSUES, DREAMS and SOLUTIONS. If we are looking at smart cities or urban planning, there is a need to first ask the public or different stakeholders to define how they would like their cities to be viewed such as festival city, tourism city, heritage city, living city or investment city. These reaffirmed definitions will help in defining how the planning should take place. Thus, the key in effective planning lies in collaborating with all stakeholders as active partners.
The introduction to the workshop was given by Mr. Probir Banerjee from Alliance for Good Governance, who explained that Andeas has been coming to Auroville to conduct workshops on participatory planning since 2009, and that he had agreed to hold a brief session for the Society and Alliance as an introductory session. The meeting was attended by over 30 participants from the Alliance for Good Governance and discussions were also held as to how various issues related to water, solid waste, tourism, health, etc., could be improved through participatory processes and how we can include the government as effective partners as well.
This workshop will help deeply the work Sri Aurobindo Society (SAS) has taken up under the Project ‘Svarnim Puducherry’ or ‘Golden Puducherry’. Svarnim Puducherry is one of the major initiatives of SAS where we are attempting that the people of Puducherry, NGOs, the State Government, the Central Government, corporates and international agencies will work together to make Puducherry a model state, in every way.