City Planning and Built Environment

A Tool that Helps City Planners Realise Equal Human Rights and Agenda 2030

FairShare: Realising Equal Human Rights in Cities. Urban planning and the design of the built environment is the spatial translation of human rights into our every day lives. It determines how difficult or easy it is for us to access key human rights. Including housing, school, work, health, freedom of movement, freedom, and security. It provides the framework for how we can live, moving as we do between home and work or education, and everything in between.

Taken the importance of urban planning for the realisation of human rights, international and national human rights law as well as Agenda 2030. These requires urban planning to consciously and actively engage in realising equal human rights. To do this, we need a human rights-based approach providing routines and methods tailored specifically to the urban planning sector.

FairShare (JämtJämlikt) provides such an approach. FairShare is a management system coupled with a certification process. This ensures that urban development and the built environment can work systematically with equality, human rights and social sustainability.

FairShare sets clear standards anchored in human rights law against which the work of urban planners can be measured. When successful, awarded the FairShare certification.

FairShare takes the form of a certification system with standards to achieve and reward. This format is attractive to the actors in the city planning sphere. Importantly, FairShare provides routines and methods which systematically move planning actors towards the fulfillment of these human rights standards. Anna Bruce, Senior Researcher at RWI and developer of FairShare, stresses the importance of FairShare providing concrete processes for change, rather than being a mere checklist of what to achieve:

A major pitfall when operationalising human rights standards and Agenda 2030 in urban planning is to focus too much on chiselling out where we need to go, at the expense of innovating about how to get there. The principal contribution of FairShare to the urban planning sector is our routines and methods for systematic human rights and equality analysis and innovation. By tailoring the general parameters known as ‘a human rights based approach’ to the particular realities of city planning, FairShare has real potential for large scale change in the city planning sector.

Importantly, great care has been taken to make FairShare compatible with the actual working conditions of city planners and the existing city planning process. Anna Bruce, underlines the crucial importance for any system of a realistic picture of the situation of those due to implement it:

 The system works because routines and methods are shaped to hook into the existing city planning process and to make sense and inspire those who are actually doing this work to.

The main theme for the change in human rights and social sustainability FairShare seeks in the built environment is equality. Equality is achieved when our common space contributes to a fair distribution of conditions for a good life for all. Regardless of factors such as gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, skin color, origin, religion, age, health, functioning or economy. This is far from the case at the moment.

Every built solution or priority always suits some people better than others. Urban planning continues to simplify life for those who belong to the norm, and the gaps between 'the haves' and the 'have nots' constantly increase, in flagrant violation of equal human rights.

To remedy this, the tool stops urban planning from building as we have always done, with society's most privileged groups in focus. Instead, FairShare puts the question of who we are building for center stage.

Anna Bruce emphasises that all urban planning affects equality, they only question is how:

There is no neutral position available - every urban planning measures either cements inequality or creates equality. It is high time for urban planning to make an active choice for equality. FairShare is created to enable them to successfully follow through on this mission.

The work with FairShare was partly funded by Vinnova. FairShare was developed during 2020 and 2021 by RWI, RI.SE, Tengbom and the municipality of Helsingborgs stad. The innovative potential of FairShare is primarily due to the multi-disciplinary mix of developers. It ensures expertise in human rights and equality (RWI); project management and innovation (Tengbom/RISE); city planning and design (Helsingborgs Stad/Tengbom); and certification design and processes (RISE). The work with FairShare was funded by Vinnova.

The three municipalities Helsingborg, Ängelholm and Arvika are currently piloting a Beta version (2022).

To find out more about FairShare, please contact Anna Bruce at

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