Odisha’s MUKTA In Top Five Finalists For 2021-22 WRI Prize For Cities

Bhubaneswar: The Mukhya Mantri Karma Tatpara Abhiyan (MUKTA) initiative of the Odisha government has made it to the top five finalists for the 2021-2022 WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities. The World Resources Institute announced five projects as finalists at the 11th World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland, on Wednesday.

“During India’s COVID-19 lockdown, the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the Government of Odisha State pioneered an innovative mass employment scheme in cities for migrants, informal workers and the urban poor that created climate-sensitive infrastructure and has now been replicated by other Indian states at a massive scale,” stated the World Resources Institute while announcing the Urban Wage Employment Initiative – MUKTA – as one of the finalists.

The Prize for Cities is WRI’s urban transformation award, recognizing the leaders creating more sustainable and inclusive cities worldwide. This cycle’s theme, “Thriving Together in Turbulent Times,” invited submissions demonstrating how cities are responding to uncertainty, disruption and crisis. With 260 applications from 155 cities in 65 countries, the applicant pool demonstrates enormous drive, commitment and creativity in responding to an increasingly tumultuous world.

Through the Prize, WRI seeks to inspire urban changemakers across the globe by elevating trailblazing initiatives, telling impactful stories of sustainable urban transformation, and creating a network of changemakers.

“The Prize is something very special because it offers a barometer of the challenges cities are facing and then unearths the most impactful and innovative responses,” said Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO at WRI. “It recognizes the very best ideas, working at scale, and celebrates the people and places driving change. By holding up exemplary leadership, it encourages the global urban community to strive for excellence in their own cities.”

“For the 2021-2021 cycle we challenged people to show it’s possible to create outsized positive change even during times of unprecedented uncertainty and disruption,” said Anne Maassen, Global Lead for the Prize. “The finalists address a range of challenges – natural disasters, climate and public health emergencies, gridlocked mobility systems and a housing crisis. They’ve lifted up a kaleidoscope of beneficiaries, including the urban poor, women, children, transgender people, migrants, and informal workers, and helped their cities become more resilient, inclusive and better prepared to withstand future shocks.”

The other finalists are:

  • Todos al Parque (Barranquilla, Colombia): Barranquilla’s citywide urban parks project, led by the mayor’s office, is reversing decades of decline and insecurity by creating safe and healthy greenspaces for residents in every neighborhood of the city.
  • Participatory Housing and Urban Development in Iloilo City (Iloilo City, The Philippines): In Iloilo City, the Homeless People’s Federation Philippines and the city government are addressing the complex urban housing crisis from the ground up and without uprooting communities from their jobs and support systems.
  • The 15-Minute City (Paris, France): The Mayor of Paris and Chaire ETI sparked a global movement to tackle car dominance, climate change and urban inequality by creating the “15-minute city;” now more residents have services and amenities at their doorsteps.
  • ZU Peshawar (Peshawar, Pakistan): TransPeshawar is putting vulnerable people at the center of the city’s new public transit system, unlocking life-changing opportunities for women and children, and thereby creating a safer and healthier city for everyone.

The finalists were chosen through a rigorous selection process. Criteria included the extent to which submissions demonstrated big, innovative ideas and novel approaches; life-changing impact on people’s lives, mindsets and behaviors; and ripple effects across and beyond the city. Finalists are chosen by a large evaluation team, and the $250,000-grand prize winner is selected by an independent jury of leaders in urban affairs. The four runners-up each receive $25,000. The grand prize winner will be announced in December 2022.