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Our Approach


ymbioCity is a participatory process for sustainable urban development that improves living conditions and alleviates urban poverty. SymbioCity provides guidance, methods and tools to identify synergies between urban systems and to involve various actors in developing, planning and managing urban areas. By integrating economic, environmental and social-cultural dimensions as well as gender and pro-poor perspectives, we create sustainable results.

The Approach does not provide ready-made solutions to all urban challenges. Instead it allows committed local elected representatives, officials and activists to plan and manage cities where people work, access services and thrive!

1. What is SymbioCity?

SymbioCity is a holistic approach to sustainable urban development that integrates economic, environmental and socio-cultural dimensions and promotes synergistic relations.

The approach was developed in Sweden based on Swedish municipalities’ experiences of participatory and integrated processes. Since 2010, with support from Sida, Swedens local government association SALAR har disseminated this knowledge and practiced the approach in collaboration with cities around the globe.

2. What is SymbioCity Kenya?

SymbioCity Kenya is an urban development initiative by the Council of Governors and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. The programme is funded through the Embassy of Sweden and will be in operation until the end of 2018. It has four key focus areas;

  • Development of Council of Governors
  • Implementation of the SymbioCity Approach in seven Pilot counties
  • Intergovernmental Urban Cooperation
  • Networking and sharing of experiences
3. What is a SymbioCity Pilot?

By introducing the SymbioCity Approach in seven counties in the shape of Pilot projects, capacity is built to plan, manage and develop urban areas in a sustainable manner. The Pilots are supported with local and international expertise, training, peer learning, and practical implementation. Political representatives in the seven counties will be strengthened in their recognition of participatory practices, and communities will have a better understanding of urban planning process and how to influence it.

4. Who is involved?

The Pilots strive to be highly participatory and target a broad set of local stakeholders involved in urban development, including:

  • Politicians and decision-makers
  • Citizens, with focus on women and youth
  • County technical staff
  • Non-Government and Community Based Organisations
  • Private sector
  • Academia
5. What kind of change can a Pilot County expect?
  • Better interdisciplinary working procedures
  • More inclusive and open engagement with urban stakeholders
  • Decision makers using sustainable and participatory approaches to urban development
  • Vibrant public participation platforms that are well known and accepted by the local community and civil society participating in urban planning, development and management
  • Strategies towards a shared urban vision and having spatial plans for urban improvement projects
  • Staff have enhanced capacity to plan, develop and manage urban areas in a more integrated manner using the a three dimension lens of economic, social-cultural environmental aspects
  • New and innovative solutions for urban improvements implemented
6. What is an Urban Sustainability Review?

SymbioCity’s sustainability reviews diagnose current conditions, specify key issues and objectives, analyze impacts and recommend selected strategies. They foster open, creative and constructive communication and cooperation between decision-makers, experts and the public via tools including SWOT analysis, structured brainstorming, scenario mapping, backcasting and impact assessments.

The USR examines whether environmental issues figure prominently in your city’s plans or programmes. It also pinpoints if – and how – environmental expertise is represented at strategic and operational level.


Urban development is about people and their lives. People grow up, live, work, consume, access services and interact in cities and towns. They should therefore be involved in shaping the development of their environment. Also, the participation of diverse stakeholders contributes to good urban planning. Read more about the SymbioCity Approach on the global website.