Last week, EWM Projects Facilitator Ashoka Finley was interviewed at the United Nation’s COP20 Climate Change Conference about the Ecocitizen World Map Project, on the heels of the announcement of Lima becoming EWM’s newest pilot city. Translated into English from the original Spanish interview.
COP20: What is the Ecocitizen World Map Project?
Ashoka Finley: The Ecocitizen World Map Project is a global initiative that seeks to provide online mapping tools to citizens. These tools are designed to explore, understand and quantify various urban issues from a holistic perspective. The project began in 2012 in three pilot cities: Egypt, Medellin and Casablanca, with the aim of understanding the relationship between geographic data and social interaction.
COP20: How does the process of information gathering work?
Ashoka Finley: We work with a community organization and with our local partners to identify academic institutions interested in participating and government agencies that can provide data that we can share. We use available information combined with new information generated through research, surveys, workshops, etc. The collection of data on consumption of local resources and quality of life involves citizens of the pilot areas in. The idea is to have a participatory research process, where citizens can understand more about what works and what does not work in their neighborhoods.
COP20: How can this information help the management of local governments?
Ashoka Finley: On the one hand, it contributes to the involvement of citizens, not only as receivers of information but also as actors and agents of this information. Allowing citizens to develop a sense of ownership, empowerment and inclusion is needed in many cities. It can also lead to sustainable change, because we understand how we are consuming resources and how this affects society in general. It can also help develop policies based on real information.
COP20: Tell us about the project being planned in the city of Lima?
Ashoka Finley: We have just started the project a couple of months ago. So far we have had discussions with Cities Alliance, the Catholic University and the Department of Land Management of the Ministry of Environment of Peru.