EWMI ACCESS Grantees Engage in Advocacy for Urban Development Problems
One of the main priorities for the EWMI ACCESS Public Policy and Accountability Grants program is to support transparent and effective urban governance in Georgia. Toward this end EWMI ACCESS assists CSOs in conducting policy research and analysis, increasing public awareness and advocating for policy solutions to some of the major urban issues.
As part of this process, in February, EWMI ACCESS grantees – Tbilisi Architecture Biennial (TAB) and Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association engaged diverse stakeholders in various activities to highlight urban development problems in Tbilisi and discuss possible solutions.
The Tbilisi Architecture Biennial (TAB) presented its research findings and multimedia stories on a number of problems, including: a) rapid gentrification of Sololaki (historic district of Tbilisi popular among tourists) and its effects on the urban fabric and daily lives of its inhabitants. In order to visualize the scale of the problem, TAB and its partner – Indigo produced a video documentary which was shown to government representatives and other stakeholders at an open discussion. Discussion participants explored prospects of Sololaki’s future development and provided relevant recommendations. b) Challenges and Perspectives of Spatial Mobility in Tbilisi – TAB along with its partner Indigo, held public presentation of their research report regarding mobility issues in Tbilisi. The report is authored by Urban Lab and provides thorough assessment of pedestrian infrastructure, mobility and public transport system in Tbilisi and offers policy recommendations. c) Natural Disaster Risks in the Vere Valley – After the 2015 devastating flash flood of Vere river in Tbilisi, a new wave of constructions has been under way in the River valley, despite the vulnerability of the target area to natural disasters. TAB has studied the new constructions and other post-flood developments in the Vere Valley and presented the findings to society. Following the presentation, the invited experts, policy-makers, and interested citizens discussed ecological problems and urban policy gaps in the Vere Valley and other districts of Tbilisi situated along the rivers.
The Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA) and Tiflis Hamkari organized an urban tour and a series of lectures for journalists and media representatives to raise their awareness on cultural heritage protection and the problem of chaotic constructions in Tbilisi’s old districts. Apart from information seminars about a legislative framework, international standards and current practices of preserving cultural monuments in Tbilisi, the participants went to Gudiashvili square where they had an opportunity to gain practical experience through observing and evaluating ongoing rehabilitation works. With EWMI ACCESS support, GYLA and Tiflis Hamkari are implementing a project to monitor Tbilisi Development Fund and the restoration works it is administering in historic neighborhoods of the capital.