People often ask me “why is it so important to involve ordinary citizens in the decision making process for urban governance?” After all they are not experts in water systems, traffic management, building codes, or all the other specialized areas of city planning and management.
One of the most important things we have learned about urban sustainability over the past thirty years is that linear top down approaches to decision making so characteristic of the past simply will not work in the future. Making cities more liveable requires a different decision-making model, an integrated, horizontal process that actively involves those who will be most affected.
If you look at what is happening in major cities around the world where top down decisions imposed solutions about housing or urban design or transportation, in almost every case those cities are busy tearing down the relics of past mistakes. Today they are listening to what people are saying.
And that is the overwhelming message of WUF3. There will be no policy-making at WUF3. The entire session will focus on the doers -- mayors, urban planners, people who work in cities or local governments, engineers, the private sector, the NGO community, architects and designers. It’s not about “what we should be doing,” it’s about “how” we should do it.
The dialogues and the conversations that will take place in Vancouver, and the people-to-people networks that will be developed, will deliver useful lessons on the administration and operation of cities that can be applied everywhere.