Skip to main content
RISE logo

People’s Walk becomes Sweden's first certified public space for equality

FairSHARE is a method that helps those who work with societal development to integrate human rights into planning. Certification for equality by a third party ensures that municipalities achieve their set goals in terms of equality in urban planning. The first public space has now been certified – a promenade in Helsingborg.

When the city planning commission in the Helsingborg conducted a safety survey in the district of Söder in central Helsingborg, it was discovered that almost one in four people in the district experienced different types of harassment. This resulted in a project to create spaces that attract women where they can feel safe.

“During the course of the project, we realised two things. First of all, that we needed to make a major change in our way of working,” says Moa Sundberg, urban designer at Helsingborg's urban planning commission. “Secondly, that a person is not just their gender, but that there are a number of other aspects to take into account when you want to create a safe space with equality for all.”

There are seven grounds for discrimination subject to Swedish law. These are gender, gender identity and expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation and age. In Helsingborg it was felt that there was a need for a toolbox that could help those who work with urban planning – urban planners, architects, property owners, private stakeholders, municipalities and regions - to integrate all aspects of discrimination into their activities.

“We also realised that a new certification would be needed for this work process, and that’s where RISE came into the picture,” says Moa Sundberg.

Mix of skills the recipe for success

The basic prerequisite for successful community development projects that take into account the power imbalance that prevails in terms of equality is that there is an appropriate mix of skills. It is about people who know the rules of urban development, people who have knowledge of both human rights and how the power imbalance manifests itself, and finally employees who are structured and innovative in their work and can drive the process forward. This according Ingrid Isaksson, project manager and auditor at RISE.

“Within most municipalities there is a desire to make urban planning accessible and pleasant for everyone, but unfortunately there is often a lack of knowledge about the importance of design for equality,” she says. “Even if the ambitions are good, they are not fully implemented. By having a third party come in and conduct certification, the municipalities ensure that they reach their set goals in terms of equality in urban planning.”

It is very important to gain increased knowledge about these issues

Hand in hand with urban development

Certification for equality goes hand in hand with the normal process of urban development. Step one is fact-gathering and background analyses, and here one may need input from various experts and from research. Step two is to prioritise. When prioritising, the human rights perspective must be indicative and the decisions must be transparent. Step three is to formulate an equality commitment that clarifies the benefit you want to attain and step four is a project plan with activities to find solutions and opportunities to fulfil the commitment. Step five, is about prioritising among the solutions and transferring the requirement to implement these to the next entity in the process.

“RISE is involved throughout the process and ensures that the measures decided on at each step follow over to the next,” says Ingrid Isaksson.

She adds that besides certification, RISE also offers a training service – but to different customers because it is not permitted to train the customer you subsequently certify. Certification is designed to be as cost-effective as possible.

“Certification has two purposes,” says Moa Sundberg. “It is obviously a stamp of quality, but at least as important is that we become aware that not all places are actually accessible to everyone in society. It is very important to gain increased knowledge about these issues.”

Designed to make older people feel safe

The first space to be certified is People’s Walk in Helsingborg. The promenade will be built in connection with the H22 City Expo, which will be inaugurated on 31 May.

“People's Walk is designed with the aim of getting older people from different neighbourhoods, with different economic backgrounds, different beliefs and different sexual orientations to meet and feel safe,” Moa Sundberg explains. “The promenade is designed in accordance with the wishes of the older people we interviewed – this includes considerable greenery to provide shade, many places to sit and a boules court.”

Arvika and Ängelholm are two other cities working on urban development projects that will eventually be certified.

The certification according to FairSHARE will be presented at a seminar at H22 City Expo in Helsingborg on 10 June.

Published: 2022-05-25

Contact person

Ingrid Isaksson


Read more about Ingrid

Contact Ingrid
CAPTCHA This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

* Mandatory By submitting the form, RISE will process your personal data.