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Bringing participation into governance

Explore how progressive cities are promoting a diverse range of ethically informed approaches to urbanism.

Progressive cities are promoting a diverse range of ethically informed approaches to urbanism, such as community wealth building, basic income initiatives, participatory budgeting and citizen assemblies.

In this video, Brendan explores the economic redirection of funds for ethical cities and the ways to do this, using Bristol and Leeds as examples.

Collective ethical thinking

The ethical city is an evolving narrative that shapes our collective urban experience. It is not an end point but a fluid process and a way of acting. There is no recipe for how, and in what order, realignments and experiments might occur.

Offering final answers to every ethical dilemma is not a useful goal. Rather, the ethical city advances collective thinking on complex problems. It is a city where local government co-creates and co-designs the city with residents, who have both rights and responsibilities, and where governance is a collaborative process. It is a city where leaders, businesses, civic groups and communities work together to resolve challenges.

Ethically informed approaches to urbanism

Examples of participatory approaches to decision-making include citizens’ juries and deliberative surveys.

The following video describes how a citizens’ jury is an innovative way of involving people in the process of government and the ways in which citizens can best influence the decisions their governments make.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

It is critical for citizens to set the direction for the city.

Leeds Climate Change Commission

If we think about how it may be possible to promote new modes of governance that engage local people in extended conservations on ‘what is the right thing to do?’ then a very good example is the Leeds Climate Commission.

This first ever climate commission in the UK, engaged the local community in a unique dialogue through the Leeds Big Climate Conversation. This was a three month conversation on climate change. This was followed by the Leeds Climate Citizens Jury which ran for 30 hours over nine sessions.

The local government was required to take forward the jury’s recommendations. Interestingly, some of their recommendations proved difficult for local political representatives. This contradicts the notion we often hear – ‘that politicians cannot act because the public has no appetite for change.’ In this case the opposite was true.

Your Task

Reflecting on Brendan’s comments in the video regarding redirecting funds for ethical cities, and drawing upon the experiences of Bristol and Leeds, consider how such experiments might work in your city or a city you know.

Who do you think would benefit and support such experiments, and who would oppose them? and why?

Share your ideas in the comment section below.

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Creating Ethical and Sustainable Cities at the Local Level

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