Shadnaz Azizi, Local Pathways Fellow (Tehran, Iran), UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth Initiative

As Local Pathways Fellows, we were asked to prioritize one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and my chosen target within it was 11.3, which emphasizes enhancing participatory and integrated urban planning and management. Having it in mind, as a lead land use planning specialist and socio-ecologist, my contribution at the World Urban Forum 9 was structured in the area of “urban blight” on two main points:

  • Developing different orders of concepts as a supplement of prevailing urban regeneration plans (with the lack of recognition of the socio-economic and cultural reality of the city current status) for having a more dynamic document that can be interactive with the cultural ecosystems and embarked on capacity-building for public-private partnership;
  • Developing partnerships between youth and multi-stakeholders for removing blight from the city.

"Bringing Bijar City's Past Back to Life with Smartphones" was my idea with the aim of creating an in-between sphere between political and public spheres by forming a coalition of  NGOs in Bijar City; a city which is located in Kurdistan Province, west Iran, with a long historical background as a commercial node in the ancient silk road. Unfortunately, today, there is almost nothing left of that glory on the map. The previously functioning city fell into a state of disrepair, featuring unpleasant and dysfunctional urban frontage and public spaces.

My project is shaped in the context of the social capital formation through the virtual space, because I saw that people of Bijar "really want to argue about remaking their city" (especially younger working population). The idea is introducing a new platform of enabling local logic of public sphere to face with collapsed urban planning and management of instrumental local authority system.

What I really like about the Local Pathways Fellowship is the attitude of recognizing young specialists as individuals, not as a part of their companies. This trend enabled me to pursue working opportunities without challenging bureaucracy. I conducted a platform for creating a new sphere of action through virtual spaces. It was aimed at bringing the general population, particularly youth, to the circle of key urban actors, empowering Bijar’s civil society to become the main driver in removing urban blight.

This idea is a web-based tool that will allow people to envisage their experienced and expected map of the city. This citizen-generated data initiative most important outcomes would be:

  1. Creating a public participatory urban planning platform and public watch mechanism of urban development interventions through urban simulation models;

  2. Equipping the public spaces with more optional activities through facilitating inhabitants (especially young people) by designing a social volunteering  geo-localized app;

  3. Rebuilding the Urban Milieu in the form of virtual tourism system as a main driving force for a cultural economy which can be aligned with open-street maps or other modern maps, using mixed reality media technologies.


Shadnaz Azizi

Shadnaz Azizi