Innovating in World Megacities: A Search for Stories

Living Cities and NDI have entered a partnership to find and share the stories of innovators in world megacities.

Every 20 years, the United Nations gathers to discuss the work of cities and renew political commitment to sustainable urbanization. In this year of the third Habitat conference, there is a vibrant global conversation happening around poverty reduction and a “new urban agenda.” Innovation will be a critical part of that conversation, as leaders and policymakers look for the new regulation, new office or new technology that could pick the lock on an intractable problem.

The ability to innovate is absolutely critical if cities are going to meet the ever-evolving challenges of the 21st century.

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The Role of Citizens in Democracy

Having just voted for the presidential elections in July 2014, voters in Jakarta’s Senin district show their inked fingers. Photo by Telibert Laoc

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Sovereignty resides in and flows from the people of a country. They have a collective right to choose their governmental, political and electoral systems as an aspect of self-determination. The authority of government derives from the will of the people in their choice of these systems, and the people have a right to take part in their government – including through genuine elections to determine who is to legitimately occupy governmental offices.

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“Moving Forward More Strongly Towards Freedom:” What #NotTheCost is Really About

Mona Lena Krook, #NotTheCost technical advisor, greets Dr. Ave Maria Semakafu (Sextortion Coalition, Tanzania) and Susana Villaran (Former Mayor of Lima, Peru, current vice presidential candidate). Photo credit: Nikhil Shah.

At 5:45 in the morning, there isn’t much that I think about apart from coffee. But at 5:45 AM on March 17th, 2016 in New York City, I - along with NDI colleagues from the Gender, Women & Democracy (GWD), Operations, Communications & Development teams - was getting ready to run lighting cues, set-up registration and prep our volunteers for the #NotTheCost launch event. But then March 17th happened, and after all the planning, after all the last-minute arrangements -- including exciting additions to the program such as women’s activist and wife of the Canadian Prime Minister Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau -- I finally got to see this thing come to life. I watched people I’d only ever read about discuss this topic. I heard Madeleine Albright speak, and I listened as women representing countries as diverse as Kosovo, Cote D’Ivoire, Indonesia and Peru shared profoundly personal stories of violence they had experienced as women because they dared to be political activists, elected officials or candidates. I walked away from the event completely floored by what what I had just witnessed.

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Four New Resources for Strengthening Citizens’ Skills and Capacity

Each week NDI’s Citizen Participation team provides a resource to assist NDI staff in meeting the objectives of their programs. This past month’s resources analyzed the process of building advocacy skills, the transformative potential of online videos for training, and a range of tactics and interventions that citizens and civil society can use to hold governments to account. These resources provide tools and insights that can help citizens strengthen their ability to effectively engage in political processes and bring about social and political change.

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High Five for Team Dignity: International Development through the Eyes of a Community Organizer

Fabricio Rodriguez is a veteran community organizer for employee rights, who began organizing 15 years ago while working at a sub-surface mine.

An important focus of our work here NDI for the past few years has been to find ways to help democracy deliver on the promise to improve the quality of life for people. In practical terms this has led some programs to grapple more explicitly with issues that address day to day concerns of people, such as education and healthcare. The way we see it, bringing about social change is inherently political, and the kind of skills and experiences that are imparted in an NDI program often lend themselves to these practicalities.

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A Grassroots Perspective on Thinking and Working Politically in International Development

NDI's Nicaragua project is developing a community organizing component to complement youth leadership training through the Certificate in Leadership and Public Management.

More and more evidence suggests that politics matters for development, and that there is a need to do development differently by thinking and working politically. This refrain is intensifying and fueling efforts by donors, practitioners, and local partners to put this emerging approach into practice. But understanding the politics of change is only one part of the equation. Changing the politics is the other, more challenging part, especially when there are existing gaps in government transparency and accountability. Those of us working in the democracy and governance arena deal with this reality on a daily basis and have found some viable approaches when it comes to working politically.

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Three ways to celebrate International Women’s Day

As we celebrate International Women’s Day today and the progress that women around the world have made, we must also commit to efforts that will overcome the significant obstacles that still stand in their way. This year, the National Democratic Institute is launching a campaign to stop violence against women in politics. Physical and psychological violence is real and has long-lasting consequences. Often women are told that such violence is “just the cost of politics.”

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This Open Data Day, Sign Up to Design Icons at Our Election Iconathon!

First off, happy Open Data Day. To celebrate this day of data liberation, we at NDI’s Open Election Data Initiative invite you to to participate in our Election Iconathon event on Saturday, March 19th where we will create icons that bring election data to life. Slots are filling up fast, so we encourage you to sign-up before they’re all gone. Throughout our work we've found that images, often through infographics, can tell memorable stories about elections. So we'd like to invite you to help us create icons that will do justice to the data our election monitoring partners collect and publish.

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Introducing NDI's Party Renewal Initiative

Political parties are essential for democracy, they offer citizens meaningful choices and opportunities to mobilize behind different visions for their society. However, around the globe political parties are consistently ranked among the least trusted democratic institutions. While there are many reasons for this distrust, it does have some people wrongly asking if political parties are still necessary in today’s changing technological environment or if they’re a dying species of the 20th century. However, parties remain the only institutions that offer citizens meaningful choices in governance, avenues for political participation and opportunities to shape their country’s future. They therefore remain fundamental to the healthy functioning of democratic systems. To address this disconnect between citizens and political parties, NDI's Political Parties team has launched this Party Renewal Initiative to discuss how parties can better adapt to the 21st century.

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Four New Resources for Strengthening Citizen Participation and Inclusion

A representative of civil society raises a question during the panel discussion held by Election Observation Coordination Group (EOCG) members in Nepal. Credit: Sr. Program Assistant Neha Shreshta/ NDI

Each week NDI’s Citizen Participation team provides a resource to assist NDI staff in meeting the objectives of their programs. This past month’s resources analyzed how citizens can counter corruption through nonviolent action, how to build a coalition in order to launch a successful campaign, social auditing to increase government accountability, and the debates and challenges of disability inclusion in development.

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