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04 February - Session 3: Governance & Collaboration


Whole-of-government coordination mechanisms are fundamental to avoid divergences between sectoral priorities and policies while promoting mutually supporting actions across different sectors and institutions. Good governance and collaboration are vital components of effective policy delivery, especially in urban planning, which requires active coordination and engagement from so many different parts of government, and stakeholder groups. Vertical alignment between different tiers of government (eg National, Regional, Metropolitan, City and District) is essential, as is horizontal alignment and integration between ministries and departments (eg energy, housing, land-use, transport etc) and other partners. Organisational structures, processes and systems also need to support integration and alignment.

Drawing on extensive policy research together with the international standard for sustainable cities and communities (ISO37106), this session considers the importance of achieving alignment between sectoral priorities and policies together with effective collaboration between different tiers of government, ministries, and departments. The session was facilitated by the International Growth Centre and the British Standards Institution together with practical experience from Bristol City Council.

Key Takeaways:

  • 'Capacity’ is both the ability to do something & the desire to do something. Need to understand how to incentivise.
  • ‘Change’ is not a project (with a start, finish date and a budget) and needs to be integrated within the organisation and become part of its culture.
  • Encourage power to be devolved to the lowest level to facilitate feedback and learning. Start small and learn from others. Keep evaluating.
  • Bristol City Council, City Leaders Group (mixed constituency of private sector, academics, public utilities etc)

Principal Contributors

Mr Shahrukh Wani, Cities Economist, International Growth Centre

Shahrukh Wani is an economist at the International Growth Centre’s Cities that Work initiative at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. In this role, he supports evidence-based policy reforms in Africa and South Asia with a focus on public finance and urban governance. His work has included collaborations with policymakers in Afghanistan, Uganda, Pakistan, and Zambia on areas such as property taxation, fiscal and administrative decentralisation, and urban infrastructure provision. Before joining the IGC, Shahrukh conducted economic analyses for ActionAid on Pakistan’s tax system, supported a statistical poverty measurement tool at the Grameen Foundation and the Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), and helped set up an accelerator program for social enterprises in Islamabad. Additionally, Shahrukh frequently contributes opinion pieces on economic policy to various newspapers.

Mr Chris Cooper, Consultant, British Standards Institution

Chris Cooper is a smart cities expert and consultant to the British Standards Institute. Chris helped write the original first set of smart city standards - including ISO37106 - Guidance on establishing smart city operating models for sustainable communities. As well as being a member of the steering groups for BSI PAS184 Developing project proposals for delivering smart city solutions; and BSI PAS 186 Smart cities – Supplying data products and services for smart communities – Code of practice. This active ongoing participation has helped the BSI shape how smart city standards are used by organisations and communities. Chris is also a practitioner of the BSI Smart City standards. He uses them to help communities globally adopt sustainable, open, transparent, and interoperable smart places. This gives Chris a unique insight into seeing how applying standards can be beneficial to communities 'smart projects'.

Mr Allan Macleod, Bristol SDG Research & Engagement Associate, Bristol City Council

Allan works with the University of Bristol, Bristol City Office and Bristol City Council as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Research and Engagement Associate. He works across these three organisations to assist in their adoption of the SDGs, as well as support stakeholders from across Bristol to improve awareness and understanding about the SDGs and help drive action in the city. He has assisted the Bristol City Office with the delivery of the One City Plan, the Global Parliament of Mayors, Bristol Method+ report on SDG Localisation and Bristol’s Environmental Sustainability Vision. Working with the Cabot Institute for the Environment, City Futures Theme he produced the UK's first Voluntary Local Review (VLR) of progress towards the SDGs as well as a handbook to assist other cities in undertaking the same report. He presented Bristol's VLR during the UN High Level Political Forum and has also shared Bristol's experience in Berlin, Vienna, Los Angeles, Dusseldorf, Brussels, Sheffield and Mexico City. Allan coordinates the Bristol SDG Alliance and is currently working with the British Council, Bristol City Office and Bristol City Council to further the use of the SDGs in Bristol, the UK and beyond.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the session participants were:

  • able to describe the importance of achieving effective alignment between different layers of government
  • able to show the importance of collaboration at city level
  • better equipped to critically reflect on the effectiveness of governance and collaboration in their own jurisdiction

Participants were invited to consider three lenses through which to consider the issue of governance and collaboration: spatial, functional and temporal. From a spatial perspective, it was suggested that participants might wish to consider expanding the spatial span of governance by merging local units to bring administrative and economic boundaries into closer alignment; for example, Cape Town previously comprised 61 local government units and now has only one. Contributors suggested that participants might wish to consider establishing a lead or integrated agency responsible for providing a key public service; the example cited was TfL. Contributors also suggested improving the temporal aspects by using fiscal transfers as a catalyst for long-term investments; i.e. long-term finance to support long-term planning.