PLUS: Partnership, Leadership and Urban Sustainability
Quality of life in the towns and cities of Europe depends to a considerable extent on the quality of urban governance, and policy makers at all levels of government now understand the need for better sustainable approach to urban development. In 1998, the European Commission's framework document Sustainable Urban Development in the European Union, analysing the socio-economic and environmental challenges facing European urban areas, advocated both for improvement in urban governance with citizens' participation and improvement in policies linked to the urban environment.
As effectiveness of urban governance is of key importance in the achievement of good urban living in Europe, city governments must develop institutional forms and styles of leadership that promote decisiveness, facilitate the use of local knowledge and enhance public support.
Some European cities have already made progress towards these objectives, achieving more sustainable urban policies by combining strong urban leadership with expanded involvement of citizens in local decision making. But, not all cities are able to tackle new urban challenges, and the European Commission's 2000 Urban Audit unveiled considerable variation in the quality of urban life across Europe.
The PLUS Project
PLUS aims to promote effective urban governance by identifying approaches to city leadership and community involvement that work well.
The primary objective of PLUS is to collect and disseminate practical knowledge about the complementarity of political leadership and citizen involvement in cities that are active in promoting sustainable development. This will be achieved by:
- Analysing, comparing and contrasting alternative approaches to urban leadership and community involvement in local decision-making in nine countries (Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom and New Zealand).
- Promoting better urban leadership and more effective citizen involvement.
- Studying urban governance in the fields of economic competitiveness and social inclusion.
- Bringing together academics and policy-makers.
- Producing practitioner oriented outputs, including practical guide, internet database, distance-learning pack and interactive, cross-national seminars and conferences.
Engagement with end users and public authorities is built in throughout the project. In the end, the ambition of PLUS is to provide practical assistance to politicians, officials and citizens who want to promote the sustainable development of towns and cities of the future in an enlarged Europe, and beyond.