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Setting up India’s Cities for Success: Why We Invested in WRI India

23rd March 2021
Setting up India’s Cities for Success: Why We Invested in WRI India
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India’s future belongs in its cities. First, an increasing fraction of the population – between 47% and 65% – live in urban areas. Second, cities are engines of economic growth – they contribute between 59% and 70% of the national gross domestic product. However, the unplanned nature of urbanization casts a shadow over the tremendous potential of India’s cities.

Stringent regulations on land use and restrictive zoning policies result in higher land prices, compelling movement of economic activity to urban peripheries, which lack the robust infrastructure required to support increased economic activity. They have neither the required transport networks, nor the effective service delivery mechanisms for essentials such as energy and waste management, limiting socio-economic gains and leading to a poor quality of life for citizens.

Enter WRI India.

Setup in 2008 with the mission to build sustainable and liveable cities, WRI India has been helping local bodies use integrated planning approaches that optimize land use, natural resource conservation and economic development for urban infrastructure investments. It does this by deploying full‐time, on‐the-ground, cross‐sector teams to provide integrated analytical and programme management support to urban local bodies.

WRI India plans to use a three-fold approach to drive impact at scale across 75 + cities:

  • Undertake Strategic Projects: Use integrated planning approaches to design and implement iconic demonstration projects such as bus rapid transport systems and employment clusters; this enables the public and government stakeholders to see the benefits of integrated planning in the short run, leading to higher demand over time for public infrastructure that leverages similar approaches.
  • Embed Integrated Planning: Embed data and tech-led urban planning processes in cities by introducing local bodies to geo-spatial mapping and data analysis, in combination with expert inputs on cost-benefit analysis, land value recapture and ecological conservation.
  • Build Government Capacity: Leverage best-in-class research as well as learnings from its strategic projects to conduct trainings and workshops and build long term capacity of urban planners.

WRI India’s inter-disciplinary team, extensive experience of working with the government, and ability to work across the entire value chain of reform – from advocacy and demand generation to policy design and implementation support – equips them to drive large scale systems change in India’s cities.

We believe by embedding data-driven integrated urban planning and strengthening service delivery in India’s cities, WRI India can transform the quality of life for the Next Half Billion who are most affected by the lack of provisioning of these services, and that is why we invested.