participatory cities juan ignacio tapia mistra urban futures

Participatory Cities

How do we create more participatory cities? How can citizens be engaged in decisions about urban development, strategy and policy? What change mechanisms are needed to support more democratic urban governance? This project brings together analysis and action across the LIPs in three ways: first, it provides a lens for analysing our comparative portfolio to ask what we can learn about coproducing participatory cities with citizens; second, it directly researches and tests the theory and practice of participatory urban governance through innovative mechanisms and pilots; third, it will provide a mechanism for reflecting on the role of our own local interaction platforms as ways of increasing participation in realising just cities.

A central question for the project is about the extent to which ‘co-productive’ practices between metropolitan governments and citizens, or between researchers and stakeholders either hinder or help us in developing our ‘freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves’ (Harvey 2008)? What are the tensions and trade-offs between inclusion and exclusion/consensus and dissensus in urban politics? Where, why and how do forms of co-production between state and citizens lead to empowerment and an opening towards different urban futures? Or where, why and how do they act as a form of ‘capture’ that contributes to the foreclosure of alternatives? This comparative enquiry investigates these issues across our LIPs, both in respect of our own projects and the wider urban contexts in which they are located.

In 2017 several activities laid the groundwork for this collaboration: a conference, two panel sessions and discussion between SMLIP, GOLIP and SKLIP at the RC21 Conference on Global Urban Justice in Leeds in September; submission of a jointly authored article between SMLIP, CTLIP and GOLIP to Politics and Governance in October setting out the LIP model which developed in Phase 1; submission and acceptance of a paper to the American Association of Geographers conference in New Orleons on politics and participation in Local Interaction Platforms and a workshop at the Annual Conference. In 2018 agreement has already been made to develop a process for learning and reflection across the LIPs in preparation for the AAG and to continue scoping project-twinning for instance, between the SMLIP-GOLIP-SKLIP in respect of major projects around participatory urbanism and citizen engagement in spatial planning and development. Discussions will also be held to ensure synergy with the Realising Just Cities and Urban SDG projects.


The project will produce: analyses across LIPs of what works in participatory urban governance; local impacts in terms of mechanisms for citizen participation; learning about the LIP model.

The output of the project will not only be academic, but also produce user-friendly summaries – for instance in relation to SDG 11/16 - policy recommendations, and other kinds of media including the evidence, findings and reflections.

Photo: Juan Ignacio Tapia at


Project members

  • Beth Perry

    Professor Beth Perry is the Director of the Sheffield Manchester Local Interaction Platform for Mistra Urban Futures.

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Magnus Johansson
Warren Smit

Centrally involved in establishing the Cape Town Local Interaction Platform of Mistra Urban Futures in 2010, and a key part of CTLIP planning, budgeting and reporting ever since. Research on various aspects of urban governance, particularly strategic urban planning and the governance of informal settlements. 

Rike Sitas

Ph.D. and researcher at ACC. Fascinated by the intersection of culture and cities, and more speicifically the role of art in urban life. Unpacking the notions of public space and public life in Southern cityness.

Stephen Agong
Margareta Forsberg

Margareta Forsberg is Director of the Mistra Urban Futures' Gothenburg Platform.

Nazem Tahvilzadeh

Nazem Tahvilzadeh arbetar vid Institutionen för samhällsplanerings och miljö, Avdelningen för urbana och regionala studier, KTH.