Urban Governance and Sustainable Development : The Leipzig CHarter
The growth and the dynamism of urban areas, due to the rapid urbanization of the 20th century, has recently raised new questions linked to the good governance of cities, in the context of environmental change, for example. As cities grow, this governance dilemma develops, and urban management assumes an increasingimportance. The fact that cities are important engines for economic and social development offering housing, employment, and services, and being essential centres of productivity has made them one of one of the first priorities for the nations. Indeed, « for better or for worse, the development of contemporary societies will depend largely on understanding and managing the growth of cities; the citywill increasingly become the test bed for the adequacy of political institutions, for the performance of government agencies and for the effectiveness of programme to combat social exclusion and to promote economic development ».
In that context, the notion of « sustainable city », which puts the emphasis on environmental and urbanistic issues among other things, appears to be a crucialpriority for the future. As new challenges such as climate change, energy efficiency and environmental inequality, but also an increasing social between the have and the have–nots, are to be faced, a system of governance that can bring the needs and desires of the inhabitants and the different policy-making actors together, in order to promote a more sustainable living environment, is necessary. Underthe circumstances, during Germany’s Presidency of the EU in 2007, an informal meeting of European ministers responsible for urban and spatial development has been hosted in order to draw common principles for urban development, focusing on helping cities tackle problems of social exclusion, climate change and mobility. The main results and the conclusions have been summarized in two policydocuments which have been adopted at the conference : The Leipzig Charter on Sustainable, and the Territorial Agenda of the EU.
What forms does sustainable development process take in the context of the city, and what resources are needed to develop them ? In that essay, we will firstly focus on how the two notions of “governance” and “sustainable city” can be linked, and secondly, we will see whatapproaches have been developed in the Leipzig Charter to adopt guiding principles for an integrated urban development encompassing economic, social and environmental aspects.
In general terms, «the goal of sustainable development is to create and maintain prosperous social, economic, and ecological systems. These systems are intimately linked : humanity depends on services of ecosystems for itswealth and security. Moreover, humans can transform ecosystems into more or less desirable conditions. ». Thus, the notion of sustainable development can be applied to the city. Indeed, the global problem of how to find and use resources to meet the needs of the population on the long term, is to be dealt with at local level, which means, at municipal level. The cities have the power to createbetter living conditions, and according to Michele M. Betsill and Hariet Bulkeley, they are legitimate to pursue policies especially related to environmental problems for several reasons. First, the cities’ being generators of pollution, they consume a lot of energy, but the local authorities can use their power to regulate the activities by supporting less consuming public transportation orbuilding projects, for instance. They can also have an influence over GHG emission by fostering partnerships with relevant public or private stakeholders, or by arousing and encouraging public involvement in local or national debates.
To achieve this, the cities have to provide space to all voices within an inclusive decision-making process, which is the heart of good governance. Indeed,...