Public Space for All

Street vendor in Bangkok greets a customer. Photo: P. Wedel

Diverse, inclusive activities in public spaces can help cities and their residents thrive — but competing interests and uses can bring challenges. Through a project with Cities Alliance, WIEGO has developed resources for informal workers who need access to public space, and for policymakers who want to build inclusive cities that work. 

Public space is a public good for all city residents to access and enjoy, whether it is for leisure, transportation or earning a livelihood. However, competing uses of public space cause conflict, and often it is the most vulnerable users, informal workers, who are excluded. WIEGO believes regulated public spaces offer possibilities for diverse uses to co-exist, ultimately making cities more vibrant and inclusive.

The Public Space for All project launched in 2018 to help city officials, informal workers and other stakeholders realize the potential of inclusive public spaces. The project, carried out in partnership with the Cities Alliance Joint Work Programme (JWP) on Equitable Economic Growth in Cities, involved a series of public consultations in WIEGO's Focal Cities.

Several resources were then developed.

New Resources on Inclusive Management of Public Space

These resources are designed to inform city governments, informal worker organizations and support organizations (including Cities Alliance members) about inclusive management and regulation of public space. The cases presented are drawn from the experience and knowledge of the WIEGO Network and its member organizations of informal workers, and other members of Cities Alliance:

public space discussion paperInclusive Public Spaces for Informal Livelihoods: A Discussion Paper for Urban Planners and Policy Makers - presents research findings and case materials that illustrate both the everyday struggles that the urban working poor face in securing access to public space to pursue their livelihoods and the management and governance challenge faced by city governments in regulating access to public space for competing uses and users. This paper makes the case that regulated access to public space for informal workers is a key pathway to inclusive cities and, thereby, to equitable economic growth; and that another key pathway is to enable informal workers to be represented in urban planning and governance processes.


public space toolkit paperSupporting Informal Workers in Public Space: A Toolkit for Local Authorities - aims to support local authorities in adopting an inclusive approach to managing public space that considers urban informal workers, with a specific focus on street vendors. The toolkit includes principles for inclusive legislation and regulation, guidelines for authorities to compile evidence for planning, and recommendations for engaging street vendors and community stakeholders in the process of designing, implementing and monitoring plans. Good practice examples from WIEGO’s network are integrated throughout the toolkit. 

Cities Alliance has created this short VIDEO.


public space manualWorking in public space: A manual for street vendors - is for individual street vendors and their organizations to use in reflecting on their contributions and challenges working in public space and to build their capacities to defend their livelihoods. Also available in Français and Español.







NEW FEATURE E-BOOK: Street Vendors and Public Space: Essential insights on key trends and solutions (February 2020) - Through photography and text, this e-book offers an in-depth look at the important role street vendors play in cities, the challenges they face, and the solutions that can make cities more vibrant, secure, and affordable for all.

VIDEO: Whose Space Is Public Space?

Informal Economy Topic
Informal Economy Theme