Database of governance arrangements

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Across Europe there is an inspiring array of experimentation with local governance arrangements for sustainable and just cities.

What is governance? It can be broadly understood as all formal and informal political processes (involving state and non-state actors) that lead to collective action. (Watch us explain this more in the video to the right).

On this database, you will find results of a study on fruitful governance interventions for sustainable and just cities.

Enabling Governance Arrangements

Enabling governance arrangements (EGAs) are combinations of actor constellations and institutional settings that have proven a potential to support urban governance towards sustainable and just cities in several real-world initiatives, or Governance interventions.

Essentially, the six EGAs, below, are patterns that were identified as enabling positive change in multiple governance interventions (see our ten governance interventions, below).

In the colourful table, below, you will find six enabling governance arrangements described with examples, critical reflections, and connections to the Covid-19 pandemic. They have been freshly updated with participant inputs from the virtual “Berlin” Arena on Governance for Sustainable and Just Cities in March 2021.

While these arrangements show a potential applicability in several different contexts, they will not necessarily produce positive outcomes in all settings. Nor are they the sole factors for bringing interventions to fruition. Rather, they need to be applied cautiously and adapted to local conditions.

  • Click Title for EGA Video Click Illustration for EGA Description
    A-Vision.jpg Create a Comprehensive Vision of Change.jpeg
    B-Adaptation.jpg 2 Makes Space For Adaptation.jpg.jpeg
    C-Bridges.jpg 3 Build bridges.jpg.jpeg
  • Click Title for EGA Video Click Illustration for EGA Description
    D-Participation.jpg 4 Commit To A Meaningful Participation.jpg.jpeg
    E-Networks.jpg 5 tap Into Existing Community Networks.jpg.jpeg
    F-Finance.jpg 6 Develop Resilient Financing Arrangements.jpg.jpeg

What additional governance arrangements should be included that could facilitate a transition to sustainable and just cities?

Would you like to get involved? We've asked some questions in this wiki, and you can share your suggestions with us via email to Philipp Spaeth. If you haven't already, please feel free to join the UrbanA Community of Practice.

Governance interventions

We have selected ten real-word experiments (mostly within EU-funded projects) and developed detailed descriptions which detail their governance variables and processes. We have also created a brief governance scenario per case studied. These scenarios share general insights in a narrative style, and we hope that they pique your interest and provide inspiration about what could be possible in your city!

We stress that the interventions presented below (the detailed descriptions and the corresponding scenarios) - are not entirely “successful interventions”. Rather, they are regarded as general inspiration and real-world cases for testing out how to enable translocal learning.

Detailed governance intervention descriptions Brief governance scenarios
1.Bottom-up resistance against gentrification in Rome 1.Countering Gentrification: Community Based and Collaborative Methods
2.Citizens rescuing and sharing food in Berlin 2.Tackling Waste: Community Practices for Food Rescuing and Sharing
3.Community led affordable housing in Brussels 3.Reimagining Affordable Housing from the Ground Up: Community Land Trust Models
4.Dealing flexibly with and learning from resistance in Barcelona 4.Reclaiming Street Space: Cooperation for Neighbourhood Transformation
5.Biodiversity Protection and Social Justice in the Barcelona Natural Park 5.Negotiating Green Space Development: Balancing Long-Term Sustainability and Short-Term Social Needs
6.Co-creation of a sustainable neighborhood in Freiburg 6.Collaborating Across Institutional Boundaries: Co-Creating Sustainable Neighborhoods
7.Inner-city community energy in London 7.From Electricity to Empowerment: Democratizing Urban Energy Systems
8.Holistic neighbourhood development Augustenborg 8.Overcoming Silos in Urban Regeneration Projects: Holistic Neighbourhood Design
9.Citizens share in Berlin Energy Grid for sustainable energy 9.Creating a Sustainable Energy System: a Citizen-Driven Transformation
10.Regeneration of a deprived neighborhood in Rotterdam 10.Nurturing Trust in Community-Driven Regeneration: Continuity amidst Institutional Uncertainty

Example of a partially successful governance intervention

In addition to our 10 fruitful governance interventions for sustainability and justice in cities (see above), we developed a rich description and a scenario of a governance intervention that demonstrates possible pitfalls when developing sustainable infrastructure in a public-private partnership. This intervention extracted from a south-eastern European setting outlines the partial success of governance interventions and encourages caution about the externalities of public-private partnerships, especially in the context of austerity that may increase in the post-COVID era.

Template for developing further descriptions: Rich description template

Learning between cities for sustainability and justice

Learning bw Cities Final.png

The Enabling Governance Arrangements and Governance Scenarios on this wiki are examples of ways to share knowledge about sustainability and justice between cities. In the UrbanA project, the University of Freiburg has given a lot of attention to this process of knowledge-sharing between cities, or translocal learning. We have reviewed documentation of many EU-funded initiatives for sustainable and just cities, interviewed academic specialists and municipal officials, and held several workshops with the UrbanA Community of Practice on what (in)effective translocal learning looks like.

Translocal learning was a 'hot-topic' at the "Berlin" Arena, where participants shared their experiences learning from other places in the past.

Most groups stressed the value of personal and dynamic learning processes, for example through networks connecting similar initiatives. Additionally, when knowledge is being applied in a new setting, it was seen as necessary to involve all affected stakeholders in an intentional process that adapts the knowledge to their needs and interests.

Participants called for several changes to the way that knowledge is generated, shared, and put into action in new places. Among many ideas was firstly an improved research-action-policy interface, with better collaboration between academics, experts, activists and others to adapt an idea to a specific place. Secondly, better knowledge dissemination practices by creating spaces like UrbanA that allow for accessible exchange and learning and to act as safe spaces enabling free communication. And thirdly, a change in mindset that appreciates failure.

Sharing lessons from failed projects, including mistakes made or obstacles faced, was seen as a great opportunity for learning.

So-called ‘sanitized stories’ and spaces that exclude this information were regarded as unhelpful. Although regrettably they are still commonly used for sharing sustainability best practices.

The “Berlin” Arena has reaffirmed that any political agenda aimed at integrating sustainability and justice concerns in urban governance needs to be grounded in community-based methods and include a critical perspective on the knowledge it conveys. More fundamentally, it needs to be accompanied by a wider set of changes to the way cities learn from each other.

See this blog post for more: