The first step involves gaining political commitment, but also commitment from the municipal staff. Having both the politicians and key managers from different departments on board will be essential for the success of the CDS process. Ideally, all political parties should support the development of the strategy and should be willing to lend their leadership to the process. To ensure commitment, we suggest spending the initial weeks discussing the goals, and particularly the benefits, of taking on a CDS, the process itself, and the expectations and concerns of key officials and elected members.

One useful approach is to share successful cases, particularly of mayors and of cities which have had a successful experience with proactive strategic planning processes such as a City Development Strategy.

Cases of development strategies: inspiration and sources of lessons

Many cities in different parts of the world have had success with applying active development planning processes such as CDS.  Well known examples include Curitiba in Brazil, Bogota and Medellin in Colombia, and Barcelona in Spain.

In most cases there is on-line documentation, including in the case of Curitiba a YouTube talk by the former mayor of Curitiba, Jaime Lerner, and in the case of Medellin a speech by the former mayor of Medellin.  The videos give a good idea of the commitment of the mayors.

City of Cape Town: City Development  Strategy

In Africa examples include Cape Town, e-Thekwini (Duban)—where CDS links closely with the IDP process—Kigali, Lagos, and the towns and cities around Lake Victoria, which were supported by UN-Habitat.

In successful cases there are important common elements.  These include a strong commitment from the mayor, providing leadership.  The wider the ownership of the process the more sustainable the commitment to the strategy there will be.  The leadership commitment needs to go hand in hand with a technical capacity to carry out the work.  Innovation is needed related to the local problems and potentials.  Capacity varies enormously—from large, sophisticated cities such as Cape Town to small cities with limited staff.  Detailed approaches also need to vary to take account of capacities, but principles are often the same.

The references and links below provide access to cases which are good to share with both political and technical leadership.  Examples of technical documents are also very useful as practical examples.


Specific references and links

City of Cape Town, 2012. City of Cape Town : City Development Strategy

City of Cape Town, 2012. City of Cape Town City Development Strategy [overview].

City of Tshwane, 2006. [Draft] Growth and development strategy for the City of Tshwane (a limited set of high impact strategies).

ICLEI, 2002. Curitiba : orienting urban planning to sustainability.

IHS, 2014. The IHS Alumni International (AI) 2014 Award Ceremony at WUF Colombia [YouTube video].

Filani, M. O., 2012. The changing face of Lagos : from visión to reform and transformation.

Kigali Masterplan 2040 video, 2013, Kigali, Rwanda [YouTube video].

TED, 2013. Enrique Peñalosa : Why buses represent democracy in action [Video].

Initial discussions with the mayor and the city council[1]

The mayor will instigate the process, ensure commitment in the administration, and approve the setup of institutional structures to manage the CDS process. The council will provide comments on the strategy and ultimately adopt the final document. Their sub-ordinate committees will provide important inputs into discussions on thematic issues.

Kick off discussions with them should result in:

  1. Commitment from political and municipal bodies to undertake such a process and to make resources available;
  2. Clarity on who should be engaged in championing and managing the process internally;
  3. Readiness to set up and manage a highly transparent and credible process, with democratic legitimacy;
  4. Readiness to engage a substantial number of stakeholders and to be responsive to their interests.



[1] VNG International, 2010. Municipal development strategy process : a toolkit for practitioners  [Accessed 29 August 2016].

The next step is to gauge the readiness of the city to engage in a CDS. The extent to which the city is capable and ready to undertake a CDS process may be unclear to those involved. The readiness assessment will refer to the various elements of a CDS and address the feasibility of developing and executing the strategy.

“Readiness” is defined by four main characteristics:

  1. Capacities (institutions, personnel and their competences)
  2. Resources (financial, time, technology)
  3. Willingness (political will at the top, buy-in of the departments)
  4. Mandate (both legal and in terms of constituency)

The Figure below presents a number of key readiness questions.

Is your city ready for a CDS?
Is your city ready for a CDS?

Output of this sub-phase: readiness assessment

What to do if you are not ready?

The assessment may reveal that, related to some aspects, the city is not ‘ready’ to undertake a CDS. Taking a bit more time to prepare when there may be shortcomings increases the chance of success substantially. The Mayor and core group may want to ask themselves, for instance, ‘What do we want to do about:

  1. The lack of capacity in the municipal departments to undertake the CDS and to institute the change that will be necessary. Do we need to build capacity before getting started? Should we hire consultants?
  2. The lack of resources to implement a CDS. Do we need to have a special resource generation strategy?
  3. The potential resistance from municipal staff. Do we need to step up our communications strategy?

If there are substantial problems in the city and the state of readiness appears to be ‘low’, then the mayor and the core groups might want to ask themselves a bigger question: ‘is it the right time for a CDS?’ Undertaking a CDS when the city is in crisis is not advisable. Perhaps, it is more advisable to take the time to prepare on a number of different fronts.

Once the decision has been made to execute a CDS, and the political and municipal apparatus is engaged, it is important to think through who will plan, manage and champion the process within the government. Typically, this involves appointing a strategic coordinator (an internal champion that will lead the process), and designing an organisational structure with which the coordinator can work. This might include a core team to work on the CDS, a steering group (an advisory group with a more strategic role) and thematic (multi-stakeholder) working groups. Structure may differ depending on the circumstances.


Possible organisational set up to manage the CDS

Possible organisational set up to manage the CDS

The strategic coordinator (SC) is an important figure in the CDS preparation process and requires a blend of management skills and experience. The SC will:

  1. Lead the process;
  2. Manage the work of the CDS team and have authority to deploy resources to develop the strategy; and
  3. Report on a regular basis to the mayor and / or lead official responsible for the CDS.

In doing the work, there will be different levels of commitment[1]. For one, there will be those that ‘own the process’, and those that are involved in the process. One is related to the commitment to support the process (politicians, political parties and institutions), the other is related to the actual implementation of the process (the SC and the CDS team).

The SC will establish a CDS team that will take on the role of operationalising the process. It is important that the CDS team also be comprised of members that have decision-making authority (for instance municipal department heads). This will give the group legitimacy and will promote more efficient working relations, as issues can be dealt with more quickly.

The size of the CDS team should ideally be between 6 and 9 people, so that negotiations and decision-making can take place relatively easily, but that there is enough representation of the different departments and interests from within the municipal structure.

[1]IDEA and NIMD, 2013.

The case of Tbilisi, Georgia

During the development of the CDS in Tbilisi, Georgia, the city hired an international team to help the local government in preparing their strategy. The Economic Policy Agency was responsible for the management of the process within municipality, and the Municipal Development Fund (national government) was responsible for managing the contractual relations (with the donor and with the international team). The governance structure is portrayed below.

The governance structure was designed so that:

  1. The CDS Working group was responsible for the day-to-day execution of the CDS; consultants were taken on to facilitate the work of the group. Members comprised the Director of the EPA and representatives of the departments.
  2. The Steering committee, an oversight committee, was set up to review and make comments on all of the outputs of the CDS working group. The members comprised the Director of the EPA and different city council members as well as some external experts.
  3. The thematic groups convened at key milestones (the different phases of the CDS) of the process to discuss, deliberate and present their decisions. These discussions were facilitated by the EPA, the international team and the local consultants and where possible department heads.

The international team worked closely with a team of local consultants, including also consultants from the university, particularly during the development of the situation analysis.

The case of Tbilisi, Georgia

The case of Tbilisi, Georgia

Issues faced: During the process, the department staff and members of the council were overburdened and had little time to take part in the working group and the steering group. There was less than optimal presence from the government in these groups. This hampered the consistency of the work, with the responsibility ultimately reverting to the EPA. The team had to find other methods to consult and work with them.

Positive aspects: On the other hand, the team designed and held a number of meetings and forums, convening thematic groups and forums made up of a wide range of stakeholders. This process was well attended and effective in achieving outcomes. In addition, the culture of public consultations remained during the implementation period. The government continued to organise meetings and consult with stakeholder’s groups, incorporating this feedback into decision-making.

In this step, the team will identify key stakeholders in the city and those outside of the city with interest and influence over the growth and development of the city. It is important to do this at the beginning, during the preparatory stage, to ensure that all stakeholders are taken into account, and that a credible participatory process is set up.


Stakeholders are people, groups or organizations who:

  • Are affected, positively or negatively, by a project or process or by an issue arising out of the process;
  • Can contribute with human and non-human resources in planning and implementation of process
  • Control or can influence the implementation of the process
  • Have an interest in the successful or unsuccessful outcome of the process (source: authors, Mind Tools).



A stakeholder analysis helps to identify the legitimacy, interest and role of each stakeholder in the process of collaborating during a CDS planning process. For the city, it is important to ensure that, other than the partners involved in the development and execution of a project, stakeholders from vulnerable groups, and their interests, are included/represented, such as those representing the urban poor, women, the elders, children and youth, all ethnic minorities, disabled people, etc.

Analysing who key stakeholders are and coming to understand them is important when looking for ways to ensure that they can play their potential roles. A stakeholder analysis allows the team to understand the interests and capabilities of individuals, groups and organisations that might have something to win or lose from a project, or that may support, or worse, block the project. Thinking this through promotes ownership and sense of responsibility among all stakeholders in a city, and reduces resistance if interests are incorporated. It also allows weak groups to be empowered to participate effectively.



Stakeholder analysis requires developing objective criteria for identifying and selecting key stakeholders with whom to work, coordinate and communicate. This helps to ensure that all the relevant stakeholders are involved at the right time, and that the appropriate actions are taken to gain their support. Stakeholders can be grouped as follows:

Table 2: categories of stakeholders:

Actor group Examples
National Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Home Affairs, Local member of parliament
Sectoral Agencies -national/ State or Provincial Water Company or Board, Housing Department, Health Department
Local Government inter-sectoral Mayor, Councillors, Chief executive, planning, finance, administration, legal, communications
Local Government sectoral Health, employment or economic development, social affairs, water supply
Private Sector: formal Registered business, industrialists, banks, professional services and consultants, shops, chamber of commerce
Private Sector: informal Hawkers, small unregistered shops and workshops
Media Local newspapers, local radio, television, informal media
Community based organization (CBO) Neighbourhood association, local co-operative
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Can be supportive of communities, provide professional services, provide information, act as intermediary.   May also be activist.
International: Multilateral donors e.g. World Bank ADB, IADB, UNCHS, Bilateral donors e.g. GTZ, DGIS, ODA
People (not organized) People, families not organised



Stakeholders will change over the length of the development and execution of a planning process. Identifying stakeholders, their interests and what they may bring to a project is important to the coordination and management of the CDS process.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) argues that a stakeholder analysis, though essential at the start of a project, should also be seen as an ongoing process. Their guidelines state that stakeholder analysis should be updated and refined throughout the project cycle as it fulfils different functions at different stages.

  1. During problem identification, it serves as a preliminary mechanism to identify important and influential stakeholders and draws attention on how to involve them in the analytical and planning process.
  2. A detailed stakeholder analysis carried out during strategy formulation supports design decisions and risk analysis.
  3. Continuing stakeholder analysis during strategy implementation serves to confirm the involvement of each stakeholder, keep track of changing circumstances and interests of stakeholders, and plan stakeholder involvement in the evaluation process.[1]


Levels of engagement

When determining the role of the various stakeholders, the team can differentiate different levels of engagement, namely[2]:

  • Operational partners: stakeholders that come from outside of the municipal structures, but will be actively engaged in the development and execution of the CDS. These are partners that often take part in the thematic groups. The team might consider, however, in some cases, involving some of these stakeholders in the CDS team.
  • Consultation Stakeholders: these are actors that the city will consult during the process and who will give important feedback
  • Networks: networks that the city will need to activate and with whom it will cooperate (ministries, donors, international partners).

It is important to be aware that stakeholders’ levels of participation may change in different phases of the strategic plan and also in the planning process.


Output of this step: stakeholder analysis with initial indication of interests, influence, perception of the issues and potential role.



[1] Asian Development Bank (ADB), 2004. City Development Strategies to reduce poverty [Accessed 2 February 2016].

[2] Adapted from VNG International, 2010. Municipal development strategy process : a toolkit for practitioners [Accessed 29 August 2016].

The SC and the CDS team should make an initial roadmap of the CDS preparation process, the steps envisioned and the timing. They will do an initial assessment of how the process will be managed: key roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders defined. This planning will be taken up further in Sub-phase 1.3: Establish the CDS process.

The stakeholder analysis will provide important information the city can use to design a communication strategy and publicity campaign. A communication strategy will look at the key target groups, the objectives of communicating with the target groups, the nature of the message and the channels to be used. A communication strategy will comprise a plan of events in which stakeholders will be engaged over the entire process and what will be expected of them. The strategy will also contain a budget, so that the city can be clear on the funds and resources needed. This marketing and communication strategy should be closely coordinated with the set-up of the participatory process. See also sub-phase 1.3, step 4.

Outputs of this step: Preliminary communication strategy; design of a publicity campaign.