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November 27, 2015

How Cities of the World are Governed

The Guardian recently featured research by Urban Age to explore governance structures of cities around the world. Excerpts below:


Image: Urban Age, Guardian


"Gerald Frug, professor of local government law at Harvard University, stated that 'cities ought to be able to make policies that improve the lives of their own citizens'. But, he continued: 'The more basic question for urban dwellers today is: who decides who decides? Who has the power to allocate decision-making authority?'...


... As the world becomes more urbanised, these governance questions become magnified in significance as cities become larger, more complex and more fragile.r to allocate decision-making authority?... In some parts of the urban world – especially in Western Europe and South America – a broader, local coalition of city governments, private and civil society actors are increasingly having their say in determining municipal futures. In others – most notably the US, India and China – the central and federal government or state authorities seem to have kept their grip on the governance of cities.


The Urban Age at LSE Cities has... investigated the 'fit' between the size of the administrative boundary controlled by city governments (usually led by a mayor, city manager or governor) and the extent of the 'wider functional metropolitan' area of 35 cities and undertaken a detailed analysis of the governance arrangements of complex cities like London, Delhi, Bogota and Tokyo.


Like patterns of urbanisation across the globe, governance arrangements between some of the world’s largest and fastest growing cities diverge widely. Only a handful of city governments of the developed and developing world have control over their metropolitan area...


In contrast to London, Delhi’s administration is dominated by central and state governments, leading to the tensions which caused municipal meltdown last year. The National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi is one of India’s 29 states, with a population of 16.6 million. Its powers are closely dependent on the Indian national government. At the state level, powerful bodies such as the Delhi Development Authority and the Delhi Police are centrally supervised. Executive power is exerted through the chief minister of Delhi, who is elected by 70 members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly. The central government appoints the lieutenant governor. At the local level, there are 11 districts administered through four Municipal Corporations and, partly, by the Delhi Cantonment Board. The executives within these institutions are appointed by national ministries.


In 2012, a change in legislation saw the Delhi Municipal Corporation split into three separate corporations: the East, South and North Delhi Corporations, each with their own commissioner and mayor. 22% of the NCT’s budget is allocated to public transport and 13% to urban development and housing, which still features significant levels of informal and sub-standard accommodation for the city’s underclass.


At the opposite end of the scale, in terms of development and efficiency, the Tokyo metropolitan region remains the largest urban agglomeration in the world with a population of 38 million people. Despite its size, it has developed an articulated metropolitan governance system that responds to its specific economic, environmental and social challenges, with one of the most sophisticated and efficient integrated public transport systems in the world…"

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