The Process of Good Policymaking: How do Cities Differ in their Approaches?

Carla Washbourne

IPPO Cities events bring together policymakers, experts, innovators, and practitioners to share knowledge and best practice about the key issues facing city officials and leaders. Our first event of 2023 explores the process of good policymaking in cities.  Our expert panel will provide their insights on the ways in which their cities have engaged in effective practices of good policymaking and the outcomes achieved as a result. The focus of the session will be on the policy process itself and the key challenges and enablers that those working in city policy encounter.

What is ‘good’ city policy?

The question of what constitutes ‘good’ city policy and how this can be achieved has been present as an undercurrent throughout much of IPPO Cities’ work to date, from discussions on the engagement of stakeholders in shaping policy priorities to reflections on innovative methods of monitoring and reporting on policy outcomes. In this session, we take the opportunity to step back and reflect more on some higher-level questions, including:

  • What makes ‘good’ city policy?  – including a focus on topics, scales, and approaches that are well adapted to the urban space; and
  • How do we translate a policy that is ‘good on paper’ to the complexities of the real world? – focussing on mechanisms by which ambitious and/or innovative policies have been successfully enacted.

Making city policy

Cities are increasingly recognising the crucial role that their governance has on global development trajectories and taking fuller ownership of their power and influence as policymaking entities. As a result, cities have become important sites for policy innovation. The need to make effective and timely city policy has rarely been more pressing in response to escalating environmental and social challenges. These include climate change and its impacts, unprecedented levels of urbanisation, and the immediate post-crisis shift towards COVID-19 becoming endemic in our societies.

‘Good’ city policy is not just the implementation of a particular set of structures or processes, as responding to the specificity and legitimacy of the local context is also a precondition for successful policy. Although policymaking remits differ widely from city-to-city, they are often characterised by a demand to address key local issues affecting life in the city, while responding in parallel to a range of broader global issues. In this context, cities share many policy challenges in common including the relatively small temporal and spatial scales upon which they operate and the relatively constrained budget and resource space that they have available.

Furthermore, the ‘politics’ of city policy is often complex and local issues with which city decision-makers are grappling can often be the most strongly and emotively contested. On some issues – including COVID-19 response in the short-term and climate and sustainability policies in the medium- to long-term – cities are situated within a multi-scalar governance system of local, national, and global entities with expectations that ‘good’ policy is focussed on delivering coherence across these levels.

Sharing experiences

This event is designed as an opportunity to share experiences and explore how we can best discuss and promote examples of good policymaking in cities. Our panel will describe and reflect on a range of cases where innovative policies supporting tangible, positive outcomes have been effectively designed, planned and implemented. It will also invite reflections and contributions from those attending. Mindful of increasing interest in partnership working, citizen engagement and co-production, this session will have a particular focus participatory governance and social justice, as well as on policy approaches that have successfully built partnerships between the city, private and public actors, and citizens.

Our panel features Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities and Culture, Oxford City Council, who is a journalist and national equalities and violence against women and girls campaigner; Miguel Correia de Brito, European and International Affairs Adviser for Lisbon Municipality who has been engaged in collaborative governance and creating city policy through the marriage of grassroots and top-down approaches; and Miran Gajšek, Head of Department of Urban Planning for the City of Ljubljana will speak on the effective, long-term strategy of urban renewal and regeneration that has shaped the city.

Join the conversation

As well as hearing from our panel, the event includes an opportunity ask questions and share your insights with other attendees.

Join us via Zoom on Tuesday 17th January at 3pm GMT for 60 minutes to hear more.  Sign up for free via Eventbrite here.