A new metropolitan governance
New economic, social and environmental issues cannot be addressed solely at a municipal level. It is time to consider a new model of institutional integration that enables metropolitan governance to be strengthened democratically.
Reality does not grind to a halt because we put administrative barriers in its path. Governance deteriorates but does not cease. The dissolution of the Metropolitan Corporation of Barcelona in 1987 cut short a process of reinforcing territorial links that could have afforded consistency and cohesion to the metropolis. Its replacement by sectoral agencies allowed efforts to be coordinated in the realm of urban planning, mobility and the environment. However, it was soon proven that this model did not allow the complexity of new urban realities to be addressed. The approval, in 2010, of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area as a supra-municipal local authority marked a step forward, but it was insufficient.
Like the walled cities of the ancient world, major metropolises are called on to be the lynchpin of the globalised world. Today, Barcelona’s conurbation ranks highly in many global indicators. Nevertheless, this global economic success must be translated into a guarantee of well-being and progress for all its inhabitants. Their future depends on its internal cohesion.
The metropolitan city is currently a fragmented and divided urban continuum, with wide internal disparities, not only between neighbourhoods, but also between municipalities. New economic, social and environmental issues cannot be addressed solely at a municipal level. Gentrification processes, housing shortages or the entrenchment of inequalities can only be tackled through redistribution policies on a metropolitan scale.
The evolution of the political landscape in recent years has helped overcome the former misgivings over Barcelona’s dominance and the imposition of a territorial hierarchy. Various municipalities have been strengthened and now form a multi-centre network with its own personality and shared goals. It is time to consider a new model of institutional integration that enables metropolitan governance to be strengthened democratically.
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