Welcome to the Urban October edition of the best practices monthly feature. Urban October has been a month of exciting meetings, discussions and events focusing the world’s attention on urban issues and sustainable development. Individuals, organizations, cities, communities and governments at every level take part in activities that highlight the challenges and solutions relating to cities, towns and communities.

This year, World Habitat Day opened the month-long celebrations on Monday 7 October under the 2019 theme "Frontier Technologies as an Innovative Tool to Transform Waste to Wealth". The month will end with World Cities Day on 31 October with a focus on the international community’s attention on how urbanization can be used to achieve sustainable development. While the general theme is “Better City, Better Life”, the specific theme for 2019 is “Changing the World: Innovations and a Better Life for Future Generations”. For this and more information, please visit http://urbanoctober.unhabitat.org/.

In this edition, we highlight good practices from the first session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly held from 27th to 31st May 2019. The over arching theme was; “Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities” with the Sub theme: “Accelerated implementation of the New Urban Agenda towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Over 170 good practices, comprising of evidence-based policies, methodologies and implementation initiatives were collected. These practices cut across the following urban themes:

  • Climate Change
  • Housing
  • Land
  • Local Economic Development
  • Migration
  • Urban Mobility
  • Municipal Finance
  • National Urban Policies
  • Public Space
  • Risk Reduction and Resilience
  • Slum Upgrading
  • Urban Basic Services
  • Urban Design
  • Urban Legislation
  • Urban Safety
  • Waste Management

In this edition we focus more on good practices presented during the UN Habitat Assembly. In line with this month's Urban October celebrations, we will highlight 2 innovative practices that improve cities, for a better life. More specific to the theme of World Cities Day, “Changing the World: Innovations and a Better Life for Future Generations” we present the Uber-Go-Green Fund Initiative. This initiative integrates an innovative approach to change the world for future generations. To reflect more on the theme of World Habitat Day, "Frontier Technologies as an Innovative Tool to Transform Waste to Wealth" we present an innovative practice which transforms waste to wealth in Kenya.

Uber-Go-Green Fund Initiative

The Uber-Go-Green Fund Initiative helps drivers in London to upgrade to electric cars. Uber expects its London fleet to be fully electric by 2025. The initiative, first announced last year, is a response to the UK government’s plan to eventually ban diesel and petrol vehicles.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing company laid out the details of a clean air fee that it estimates will raise £200m over the next few years. The move is an endorsement of the government standing behind Transport for London and the mayor’s vision for London and improving air quality in London.

Implementation Process

To incentivize car upgrades, Uber is setting up a new “clean air fund” that will offer drivers up to £5,000 ($6,500) toward the cost of a hybrid or electric vehicle. The company said that it expects drivers to claim more than £150 million ($200 million) to “transition to a greener car,” though it didn’t outline exactly how this system will work.


There are a number of benefits to the idea. Moving to cleaner transportation is an important public good with a myriad of general health benefits. It should be an urgent priority for all UK cities. Air pollution is a growing problem, and we’re determined to play our part in tackling it with this bold plan,” noted Fred Jones, Uber’s head of U.K. cities. “Londoners already know many cars on our app are hybrids, but we want to go much further and go all electric in the capital.

Lessons Learned

Fighting pollution is a key priority for London. The mayor has created a new ultra low emission zone in central London, which charges older vehicles that do not meet tighter exhaust emission standards, and has pledged to spend £800m on air quality initiatives over the next five years. The City of London plans to turn parts of the Square Mile into a zero-emissions zone by 2022

Converting Waste to Wealth - Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group Initiative

Over a decade ago the Mathare community was characterized by poor urban environmental health. There were no services or transport systems for municipal waste, resulting in waste piling up in streets and along drainage lines, and high disease incidents.

Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group (MECYG) works with young people in Mathare, Kenya (2nd biggest slum in Kenya) and runs a door to door garbage collection business.The MECYG project aims to clean up the collection of waste in informal settlements and transform them into secure public spaces and safe spaces for the community, improve lives of youth through activities, reduce crime and generate income.

Implementation Process

The effort was started by the members of the group by collecting garbage in household closest to where they lived, around 500 houses in total. They transported the waste to a centralized dumping spot, where it was left for the city council to pick it up. A recurring issue was that the garbage was not picked up at the dump created by the group, however, the waste would at least be removed from the houses and the areas with the most pressing need to be waste-free.

This business has gradually expanded over the years, and MECYG now covers most houses in an area referred to as ‘Mlango Kubwa’. The group of garbage collectors goes around in the community every Sunday to collect house hold waste. Each house hold pays a monthly fee of 150 Kenyan shillings (1.5 USD) for this service. The fee ensures sustainability of the programme, as this is what pays salary for the youths that collect the garbage.


The group has created the only public space in the community by removing garbage. The open spaces have turned out to be very resourceful to the society. They have also created a center that is being occupied everyday by young people, and created space for the kids and youth to come up together in social settings and activities.

Lesson Learnt

This case shows that substantial community change can and will happen if youth are heard and taken seriously in matters that affect them. It is in this regard, an argument for initiatives that support and enhance youth-led developments such as UN-Habitat Urban Youth Fund were created. Through various initiatives of MECYG in ‘Mlango Kubwa’, the community has become clean, safe and a place where people can feel at home.


Shutterstock, UN-Habitat