Today, we can observe a dual and contradictory movement: on the one hand, the increasingly frequent opposition of local residents to urban construction projects, and, on the other, a general crisis in representative democracy.
Today, companies managing projects must ensure the adhesion of residents, deliver daily reports and adapt the project to new demands made by residents. The representative institutions that no longer enjoy the monopoly of opinion must also rejuvenate their methods and broaden both their targets and their tools.
Public opinion is demanding a new method of 'upstream' governance–a form of governance where strategy is determined by the interplay of actors, rather than policy lead–throughout the construction and management of urban facilities. The same thing is also sought by public policy makers, who must be able to continue building these indispensable collective facilities while at the same time rethinking their solutions for indemnifying the 'losers'.
The lessons and pragmatic ideas that will emerge from this seminar will therefore be both expected by and useful to all the players involved in urban projects. Hence, the main goal of the seminar will be to highlight concrete avenues for action and define tools that will make it possible to develop urban infrastructure, in the public interest, while fully involving the different stakeholders in the process.
The City Factory held its first annual meeting in London 2008 to examine issues of urban mobility. It has since chosen to explore; The Sustainable Development of Cities (Copenhagen 2009), Factors of Change in Cities (Hamburg 2010) and The Role of Public Spaces in Tomorrow's Cities (Barcelona 2011).
In 2012, its international annual meeting will be held in Amsterdam on: "Building the shared city: how can we engage citizens?"