The experience gained in UIA projects confirms the advantages of collaborative governance, which is in line with the literature and experience of other programmes. Collaborative governance increased people’s awareness and acceptance of measures, and they often developed a sense of ownership, which helped to ensure a project’s long-term sustainability. The projects also felt that active participation enabled the development of new and better solutions, and they saw encouraging follow up and spin-off activities that they hadn’t planned. Monitoring these interrelationships between participation and impacts has however been lacking to date. This makes it more difficult to draw clear conclusions which could help to refine urban governance and make it even more effective and long-lasting.
Action by individuals, businesses, and other private stakeholders is crucial to achieving cities’ climate targets. There is a lot to gain by empowering these stakeholder-actors as equal partners in co-creating the city. Carefully designed collaborative governance, which ensures that decisions are taken more democratically, is a key pillar that can make Just Transitions truly inclusive. Such governance needs, however, to go beyond invitations to collaborate in conventional formats such as consultations, meetings, or workshops, which often only representatives of some of the social groups attend. Inclusiveness can only be achieved if this is in focus when designing the co-creation approach and if the forms of participation are designed taking into account the abilities, needs, and motivations of different social groups and individuals.
The UIA projects have delivered encouraging and inspirational examples of collaborative and inclusive governance approaches and tools – developed through practice not theory. Even if the activities have not explicitly focussed on Just Transitions and often focus on relatively small or narrowly focused actions, they show the way forward as well as the challenges to overcome. This type of action can pave the way for the needed broader engagement and co-creation effort. Scaling up is possible, as experience from Vilawatt (Viladecans), IGNITION (Greater Manchester), and others show. It has been enabled by embedding the practice into the city’s regular processes and procedures and making it the standard. The challenge ahead is to further develop these approaches into a model that becomes the prevailing governance approach in cities, and at a larger scale and across other policy areas. This would require a change in mindsets, and not least:
- Politicians would need to agree to share power more and trust people to take informed decisions.
- People need to engage actively, voice their needs, inform themselves and understand the consequences of their wants and take responsible decisions.
- Local authorities organising co-creation approaches need to adapt their standard working practices and include the public properly through, in particular, new forms of engagement for historically underrepresented social groups.
Collaborative and inclusive governance does not happen by itself. It needs:
- special engagement skills to reach out to and empower all groups and build trust
- substantial capacity for facilitation
- to be nurtured over a long period of time.
Tackling climate change implies changes of individual and collective behaviour. This implies the curtailing of some personal interests. However, a better understanding of the complexity and impacts of chosen solutions, could help people to take better decisions, not merely based on their gut feeling or (perceived) personal interests, but with a view to tackling climate challenges. Knowledge and understanding can be a way out of the dilemma between catering to all possible interests and tackling the overarching challenge of climate change. It offers a hope of convincing people to change their behaviour and forego some ‘personal interest’. To see how UIA cities have done this in practice, refer to Chapter 5 of this report.