Imagine a room packed with more than 1000 mayors from all parts of the world. Add different civil society representatives, stakeholders from the private sector as well as legislators from regional and national governments. Now picture them discussing on round tables how their cities could become more sustainable. Imagine then a concluding session in the plenary where all findings would be boiled down to five key recommendations. What’s the result? Well, “building political will” is definitely among these five key findings. Why am I so sure? Because I experienced these sessions literally a hundred times. Political will is indeed lacking when it comes to making our cities greener, cleaner and more liveable. But frankly, that’s not the point. The question is: what will actually generate this political will and what are the causes of its absence? What do we have to change so that mayors, local authorities and governments will actually start to act? Certainly the different measures for making cities more sustainable need to make economic sense. They need to fit the needs of the people and they have to be compatible with the social DNA of every single place. But that’s not enough. They also need to be supported by national governments. Most importantly, the different governmental levels need to work better together. This article focuses on this latter point. How do we overcome the competition for power between national, regional and local governments? How do we ensure that representatives from across levels of government really understand that sustainable development requires them to collaborate much more closely? How do we make better use of integrated urban development policy approaches? Just as the legendary Leipzig Charter from the year 2007 states.
Power to the People 4th July 2016 read more »