Dates: 29th and 30th May 2017
Venue: Sala de Graus, Faculty of Economics and Business
University of Barcelona, Diagonal, 690
Since the Global Crisis of 2008, municipal and metropolitan governments have struggled to meet the needs of residents. The crisis brought revenue shortages because of lower incomes and property values and because austerity policies imposed by higher levels of government diminished financial support. Combined with political turmoil at higher scales, the increased uncertainty and risk surrounding new public investment has made it harder for local governments to access capital on reasonable terms. Older ways of raising and spending revenues may not work in this changed environment.
At the same time there has been an increase in bottom-up claims for the preservation of communities and the sustainability of urban neighbourhoods. At the top of the list of social demands by residents in Barcelona and in Chicago are more affordable housing, accessible and high-quality public schools, transit, and health care, and enhanced safety and security.
Into this void have stepped private and non-profit actors who have proposed alternatives that promise both public benefit and private gain. Private actors have pushed new forms of public-private partnerships, employer-assisted housing, social-impact bonds, and infrastructure investment funds. The current environment is also an opportunity for civil society to show its strength and creative capacity, and both Chicago and Barcelona have histories of mobilizing residents to contribute to the local policy and political agendas. For example, non-profit organizations have established “bottom-linked” governance relations with local institutions to put forward innovative programmes directed at the preservation of mixed neighbourhoods to counteract gentrification processes.
Rather than simply analyse and critique these new models, we wish to know: what do public sector-led, inclusive urban policies look like? Our interest is in finding feasible policy solutions that bring in new actors and also address questions of access, equity, and growth.
We propose a one-and-a-half day conference in May 2017 that brings scholars, planners, technical professionals, elected and non-elected officials, and leaders of civil society from the two cities currently grappling with these issues: Barcelona and Chicago. Both cities have seen their economies shift away from their industrial activity into other sectors (finance, technology, tourism) but have struggled to secure meaningful pathways of advancement for their populations. Both grapple with income polarization, social fragmentation and segregation, although to different degrees. Both have experienced tensions with higher levels of government, and both have a dense network of social non-profit organizations. They also face different challenges, which will be brought into the discussion.
The workshop will build on existing scholarly and practitioner networks to create a transnational dialogue that will result in a sharing of policy and planning knowledge.
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