The CDS team will reach final decisions on the inputs different stakeholder groups will have to make, the type of participation expected, and the strategic decisions to be made with stakeholders.

The participatory process set up in eThekwini, South Africa

The Imagine Durban (now eThekwini) strategic planning process was a long term planning process designed to ensure the sustainability of initiatives. The city described it as a process of non-stop, ‘learning by doing’. The project was initiated in late 2006, based on the premise that planning must encompass time frames that went beyond that of elected terms of office. Its local priority themes (effectively, strategic objectives) included:

  1. Creating a safer city;
  2. Ensuring a more environmentally sustainable city;
  3. Promoting an accessible city;
  4. Creating a city where all enjoy sustainable livelihoods;
  5. Fostering a more caring and empowering city; and
  6. Celebrating the city’s cultural diversity, history and heritage.

During the course of developing the project, the eThekwini Municipality employed varied creative forms of stakeholder engagement. The municipal staff used postcards placed at various public places, such as libraries, to elicit contributions to the City’s vision; they organised work sessions in local parks, and staged road shows and held ‘heritage weeks’. They made print media pull-outs; and organised debates and essays at schools.

They organised demonstration projects to achieve ‘quick wins’ and to prove the feasibility of their proposed programs or projects. The projects provided the basis for reassessment, revision and scaling up. They also helped to maintain momentum and stakeholders’ engagement in the city’s long-term initiative.

The City of Durban set up a team known as the Durban Project Team (later on referred to as Durban Ambassadors), for the preparation of the strategy and for implementation as well. They partnered with the City of Calgary in Canada to gain support and ideas. This was based on the premise that most cities from all over the world who were at different stages in their planning cycle, looked to their international planning colleagues from around the world who were at similar or even more advanced stages for ideas, suggestions, tips and lessons learned. The City of Calgary was also involved in a strategy process and provided learning opportunity for the Team.

The Durban Project Team held weekly meetings or field trips to evaluate their Imagine Durban Project. The Team were encouraged to be introspective and to identify key lessons that they could share with other members within the Municipality, as well as with their citizens. As a rule, the Team also tried to build in time for evaluation and reflection into the planning process, in order to make sure that they were as responsive as possible.

In addition, working groups comprising select Municipal staff and the city’s citizens were established and tasked with specific activities. Volunteers working at the Municipal Council also assisted in data analysis and presentation. When the need arose, the Municipal Council would engage reputable professional organizations for specific tasks.


Source: Moodley, S., 2009. The power of imagination : long term planning for city sustainability : 50 lessons from Durban, South Africa 2007 – 2009 [Accessed 2 February 2016].

To prepare key stakeholders and to discuss inputs in depth, the team should organise consultations and awareness-building activities to support the strategy development process.

The communication strategy tool might be helpful here.