30, November, 2011

Focus Cities Programme: Multi-stakeholder Participation in City Governance

Three case studies from cities in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina show how urban environmental governance can become more effective by including residents, researchers and local governments in diagnosing problems and developing responses.

Cities are challenged by a variety of environmental problems, most of which are associated with failures in the way urban growth is planned and managed. The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) set up the Focus Cities Research Initiative to address these urban management challenges.  It was unusual in that it supported both research and action, and used multi-stakeholder teams to employ action-research and work in partnership with local government and civil society to identify solutions to environmental problems affecting urban dwellers, to implement them and to monitor the results. This brief focuses on the three Latin American Focus Cities (FC) initiatives: Lima, Peru; Cochabamba, Bolivia; and Moreno, Argentina.

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Key Lessons:

  • Community participation in all stages of the projects facilitated a holistic approach to addressing urban environmental problems, one that ultimately increased commitment and sustainability.
  • To strengthen participation and governance, all stakeholders have to be involved in the collection of data and production of information that then forms the basis for decisions about priorities. Integrating data from various sources, including from residents and community organizations, was important in building a complete diagnosis.
  • Agreeing at the outset to a clear set of rules guided participation and built strong relationships between stakeholders, helping to avoid conflicts and to resolve them when they arose.

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