Headline: Critical Dialogues Series: UN-Data; Field Work 3

DIALOGUE 3: ‘UN-Data’ is the third and final part of the CriticalDialogues Series: the New Urban Agenda ‘on the ground’, whichaccompanied the making of the New Urban Agenda during theeighteen months leading up to the Habitat III conference in Quito(17–20 October 2016) by critically reflecting on some of its coreissues. The topics of the Critical Dialogues ranged from Overridingthe urban/non-urban divide (April 2015) and Different Urbanisations(September 2015) to UN-Data (July–October 2016). In line with theoverarching motto of ‘the New Urban Agenda on the Ground,’ thedialogues are concerned with local realities and their relation toglobal parameters.The evolution of the seriesAs visualised on p.2, the methodology of the Dialogues Seriesevolved over the last eighteen months from (1) a DIALOGUE – toproduce different thinking – to (2) a LAB – to open up complexityand more depth - to (3) a FIELDWORK – to add ‘on the ground’reality. The knowledge that was produced in these three stages wastaken up in the course of the Series’ learning process.DIALOGUE 1: ‘Overriding the Urban-Non-Urban Divide’began as a public debate with four key panellists. The inputs anddiscussions were extremely interesting (criticalurbanagenda.com),but the follow-up talks were even more engaging and left us wantingto explore the field in greater depth.DIALOGUE 2 brought sixteen ‘unusual suspects’ together to spendfive days experiencing, exchanging, producing, and discussingthe topic of ‘Different Urbanisations’. In this LAB2 in Berlin, wefocused on the role and limits of importing/exporting knowledge,technology, and urbanisation patterns to and from different regionsof the world, and discussed how culturally different processes ofurbanisation are/should be. The LAB format combined discussionwith hands-on activities as well as inputs from the participants’own work and experiences. The ‘unusual suspects’ came fromvery different local contexts all over the globe, in which they wereall strongly involved in ‘on the ground’ action. Most had a hybridprofile, being part academic and part activist/artist/practitioner. Thephysical workshop setting (space, food, working materials) played animportant role and the LAB used practical tasks (e.g., copy-pastingurban patterns, remaking the 1950s story of ‘The Three Little Pigs’in a futuristic setting, or hacking a municipal water system) to sparkcreativity and energise discussion on particular topics. In addition,much attention was given to the written, graphic, and photo/videodocumentation, which resulted in a joint LAB2 publication andvideo production (criticalurbanagenda.com). The week closed witha public debate on the same topic, a public event hosted at the ANCBin Berlin.DIALOGUE 3 focused on the topic of ‘UN-Data’. The developmentof a critical approach to this topic called for the collection of evidenceon the ground. We formed a core team with several of the LAB2participants to investigate the relation between global and localdata (related to Habitat III / Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs)through co-designed FIELDWORK in three case study cities:Chennai, Mexico City and Santo Domingo. We started out from thefollowing questions:• How can data that is meant to measure andmonitor global goals and targets go beyondthe creation of broad statistics to being asignificant tool/resource for local communities?• What kind of data is needed to induce appliedchange and force accountability on different levels?• Can we identify different approaches to dataCollection, Evaluation and Directionality?Together with a 25-minute documentary on the three case studycities and a 25-minute compilation video of the Results Workshop,this publication compiles our experiences of DIALOGUE 3: ‘UNData’.

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Ayala Cortés, J. P., Boltvinik, I., De Flander, K., Gomez Salas de Schetter, M., Mohankumar, V., Radhakrishnan, M., Schetter, O., & Tisselli, E. (2017). Critical Dialogues Series: UN-Data; Field Work 3. IASS Brochure.

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