Why are we running this project? 

Not only the complexity and bureaucratization of the urban planning systems constitute a problem, but also the underrepresentation and lack of participation of marginalized and minority groups within planning processes. Their needs and interests are not represented, causing planning decision to fall short or potentially even be harmful to the community. The lack of public participation stems from a lack of information and the lack of access of citizens to relevant information. Thus, the perspectives of the communities actually living in urban spaces are often disregarded. Members of municipalities, community organizations, grass-roots initiatives, and other CSOs active in the field of climate action and environment often do not learn about plans at all, or too late. It is very challenging for such actors to intervene in planning processes on a frequent basis and in a timely manner. Most mixed cities are chronically in debt and underfinanced, unable to finance or implement climate adaptation measures or even unaware of the consequences of climate change for their cities. The planning problems described also exacerbate social tensions in mixed cities.

What are our goals? 

By choosing a pilot case among the mixed cities in Israel, the project’s aim is to embed environmental governance and climate change in all levels of urban planning, while conceptualizing urban environments and communities living in it as a subset of the environment. This means that at the societal level the project contributes to the integration of climate change adaptation and environmental governance into every aspect of democratic and participatory urban development processes in Israel. On the one side, the knowledge of Arab and Jewish citizens on urban planning processes will be enhanced, while on the other side decision makers within the mixed cities will gain increased knowledge on climate change adaption and environmental governance and their integration in local and national decision-making.

How does the project work? 

To enhance the knowledge of all citizens and the accessibility of information, one major aspect of the project is the development of an integrated online platform that displays open-source urban planning data in Hebrew and Arabic. This website includes comprehensive planning data integrating planned processes and relevant climate data, based on data from authorized governmental bodies. On the societal level, activists’ groups in mixed cities will be mobilized to participate in workshops on urbanization, urban planning, development, climate change, and adaptation, as well as environmental governance. Moreover, activities will encompass advocacy meetings with decision makers on the local and national level, within planning authorities and relevant ministries. Community-led planning intervention is an overall goal. Therefore, the discourse around urban planning is influenced by regular updates on websites and social media posts on topics related to urban development, climate change, and environmental governance in diverse communities. That information will be provided in Arabic and Hebrew. 

Who are the target groups?

Target groups encompass civil society actors and representatives from the local governance and representatives from the public administration on the regional and the national level.

Who organizes and supports the project?

The Arab Center for Alternative Planning (ACAP) is a nongovernmental, non-profit organization located in Eilaboun, Israel (Galilee), established in December 2000. In January 2004, ACAP was recognized by the Ministry of the Interior as a public organization with the legal right to intervene in official planning procedures. ACAP works towards equality and integration of Israel’s Arab citizens closing existing gaps between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel in various spheres including urban development.

Meirim Association is a non-profit organization founded in 2020 that brings together professionals and social activists from different fields. The objective of Meirim is to increase transparency and public involvement in the Israeli Urban planning system using digital innovation tools.