Participation is a core principle that has informed European urban policy. In the New Leipzig Charter participation is seen as a crucial element of the integrated approach:
The integrated approach requires the involvement of the general public as well as social, economic and other stakeholders in order to consider their concerns and knowledge. Public participation in urban development processes should engage all urban actors, which also strengthens local democracy. Wherever possible, citizens should have a say in processes that impact their daily lives. New forms of participation should be encouraged and improved, including co-creation and co-design in cooperation with inhabitants, civil society networks, community organisations and private enterprises. Experimenting with new forms of participation can help cities manage conflicting interests, share responsibilities and find innovative solutions while also reshaping and maintaining urban spaces and forming new alliances to create integrated city spaces. (The New Leipzig Charter, 2020, p.6)
In describing participative approaches, both development practitioners and policy makers use the terms “co-production” and “quadruple helix”.
Co-production. Involving users at different stages of a decision-making process has sometimes been termed, as “co-everything”, ranging from co-creation, co-design, co-implementation, co-production and co-management. Co production implies that “citizen participation or engagement should go beyond ‘ad hoc involvement’ such as public hearings or public comment periods, and should be a dynamic process with end users – citizens– centre stage (JRC Handbook, 2020 p 121). Since the work of Sherry Arnstein writing about the USA’s Model Cities programme in 1969, the idea of a “ladder of participation” has gained traction. In this version (see figure 4.1) co-production is shown as the highest form of participation replacing citizen control in Arnstein’s original formulation.
Co-production as the highest degree of participation
Quadruple Helix. The quadruple helix built on the idea of the triple helix in which cities or regions worked with the private sector and research organisations to promote innovation. Adding civil society organisations to the mix made for a quadruple helix. Such diverse partnerships are very much in line with Article 8 of the Common Provision Regulation (CPR) for Cohesion Policy that describes that “a Partnership shall include at least the following partners: (a) regional, local, urban and other public authorities; (b) economic and social partners; (c) relevant bodies representing civil society, (d) research organisations and universities, where appropriate, such as environmental partners, NGOs, bodies responsible for promoting social inclusion, fundamental rights, rights of persons with disabilities, gender equality and non-discrimination” (DG Regio, 2021, p 39). Mirroring this, the Urban Innovative Actions programme has encouraged the formation of diverse partnerships and, attribute a significant importance in the appraisal of project proposals to this aspect
This section aims to address the following research questions:
- How did projects identify the most relevant local actors to include in their partnership, and were the power relations between the stakeholders balanced?
- Were citizens and/or users involved in a meaningful way in the design of the project?
- Did some specific stakeholders, especially NGOs/citizens but also the private sector, have difficulties in being represented and heard? If so, how was this addressed?
- How was the project adjusted during implementation based on feedback by stakeholders? What tools or methods were used to involve citizens during implementation?