#Innovations in decision-making processes for #sustainable urban projects:

In the frame of the Transversal Package of NCCR N-S, created to link different work packages and regions in a common project, IP LaSUR leads the project “Innovations in decision-making processes for sustainable urban projects”.

The rapid growth of cities throughout the world over the last few decades has had a very negative social and ecological impact. This phenomenon has reached dramatic proportion in the cities of the South, where even the most basic needs of their inhabitants are not met. It is therefore imperative to bring this urban “evolution” under control and to limit its negative effects, so as to take advantage of the potentials of urban development. Traditional approaches to “urban planning” – characterized by “top-down” policies – have proven unable to rise to this challenge. Therefore, new instruments of urban intervention have appeared. They allow for innovative processes, which strive for sustainability within the urban context. According to the principles of sustainable development, these innovative approaches try to combine economic, environmental and social aspects through participatory policies open to the various urban actors with their different interests and needs

Nevertheless, the success of such approaches is far from guaranteed due to the complexity of the urban context. Furthermore, even if some “best practices” do arise, the fundamental question of their replication in other cities remains open.

Therefore, the aims of the present transdisciplinary TPP are:

a) Analyzing the strengths and limits of “innovative” urban intervention approaches. This analysis will focus on participatory decision-making processes, which reveal the contradictory interests and logics that explain the complexity of the urban context.

b) Evaluating these innovative dimensions in urban projects based on case studies in three regions (Central America, South America and South-East Asia). Special attention will be paid to various stakeholders (institutions, NGOs, inhabitants), their actions and discourses, and also to the different material and conventional devices (standards, laws, technical solutions) necessary for urban development.

c) Constituting a database of references for the urban context and key features that make innovative urban intervention processes possible. This can be used and replicated in different urban and peri-urban situations in the South. It should allow for a better understanding of the urban complexity, the effectiveness of mitigation actions and the way these relate to the objectives of sustainable development.

d) Offering guidelines aimed at the replication of innovative urban processes. The focus will be on the way innovative experiences can translate to new patterns of ordinary urban planning, projects and management and could allow to develop pathways for the mitigation of the negative impacts of urban development.

e) Testing and validating innovative planning and decision-making processes in projects by urban environmental services (through associated PAMS), such as infrastructure and habitat improvement in specific cities selected by two of the JACS (CCA and SEA).

The goal of this TPP is therefore to identify the potentials but also the limits of participatory decision-making processes and to analyze the necessary conditions for the generalization of these processes. The project will thus analyze the fundamental tension between “innovation” and the institutionalization needed for its replication.  This tension lies at the heart of an urban management that is capable of integrating different activities, and more generally that provides a variety of common goods for the citizen (security, hygiene, mobility).

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