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Public-Private Partnerships in Buenos Aires: Participation and its challenges from a Southern Perspective Ivana Socoloff Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Presentation on theme: "Public-Private Partnerships in Buenos Aires: Participation and its challenges from a Southern Perspective Ivana Socoloff Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina."— Presentation transcript:

1 Public-Private Partnerships in Buenos Aires: Participation and its challenges from a Southern Perspective Ivana Socoloff Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ADMINISTRATIVE DEVELOPMENT: TOWARDS EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC SECTOR PERFORMANCE King Faisal Hall for Conferences Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia November 1-4, 2009

2 Argentina Metropolitan Region of Buenos Aires Province of Buenos Aires 10,500 km2 33% of the population (aprox. 13 millions out of 40 millions ) Metropolitan BA is divided into City of BA (3 million) and various ‘municipios’ (10 million)

3 According to the UN Human Development Report, Argentina has 51.3 % of income inequality distribution (Gini Coefficient, UN 2008) The illiteracy rate is of 0.5% in the City of Buenos Aires, and 1.6% in Great Buenos Aires, with no difference between men and women (source: INDEC, 2001) Urbanization and spatial segregation in cities are seen everywhere around the world. But without a doubt, their effects on undeveloped countries are closely related to a growing polarization that denies the basic ‘right to the city’ to a large segment of the population, i.e., access to water supply, education, health, infrastructure, etc.

4 Institutionalized Participation: Called by state agencies Ex. Participatory Budget in Buenos Aires Non - Institutionalized Participation: Called by organizations in conflict with the state. Ex. Protest of human rights organizations

5 In Argentina, the strategic approach began to influence administrators and NGO’s during the 90s as result of: –a) Awareness of the privileged role that cities have in development –b) The crisis of representation –c) Administrative neoliberal reforms –d) The decentralization process that started in the 90’s and compelled local governments to assume new roles –e) The extension of the regional inequalities in the national territory, that led local societies to adopt differentials strategies to obtain resources It became ‘a must’ in most of the cities in the country.

6 For CoPE (Buenos Aires Strategic Planning Forum), participation and community engagement in service delivery deepens democracy and legitimacy. Does it work? How it works? What problems has posed?

7 General Observations: In the case of Buenos Aires Strategic Plan, many key organization were left out of the process Unfair representation of the various sectors of society: over-representation of some types of organizations and others are left out. Lack of participation Incapacity to include relegated social actors. Incapacity to link the plan to other areas Incapacity to influence urban policies.

8 Engagement of the authorities: There was no sustaining socio-political environment that could favor participation. The ‘social mobilization’ was reabsorbed within the frameworks of the state, leaving the plan lacking the ‘social energy’ needed to operate. Lack of funding and publicity The unusual genesis of Buenos Aires Constitution, which shaped the plan, also explains some of its limits. Methods used: Designed to be only for consultations, decisions taken act as ‘recommendations’ The design that does not follow cultural standards. Its demands for a degree of technical expertise to participate in meetings It is difficult to bond with the topics discussed: either too general (‘the future’, ‘the city’) or too technical (‘comprehensive treatment of pathogenic waste’).

9 Many of the observations about strategic planning in Argentina, are not exclusive of the country. Many of the observations about participation in SP, are not exclusive of this plan. Why is participation ‘not working’? but why are public servants and civil society ‘blocking’ participation? When participation is seen as a suplementary form of representation, questions the raison d’être of both officials and citizens (i.e. the capacity of officials to embody the ‘common interest’ of society as a whole)

10 This questioning, though being an part of an ‘era of distrust’ (Rosanvallon) is exacerbated in Argentina and in Latin America by the political history of the country: Dictatorial government (’76-’83) Destruction of the Welfare State Corruption observed in all levels (business, government) Therefore, distrust emerges as a constitutive element of participation in urban strategic plans, becoming embedded in social relations. Citizens normally do not trust their representatives; because they think they will be used for ‘political’ purposes, to legitimize decisions that were undertaken outside the participatory process. Many times, representatives believe citizens lack the capacity to participate, or get suspicious about participants ‘intentions’ or ‘interests’, claiming they want to use these programs to confront with the government. Many legislators are afraid to lose their role as ‘political mediators’ between citizens and representatives. Some officials doubt the value of urban strategic planning as a mechanism to achieve consensual plans.

11 1.My first recommendation is not to give you recommendations rather than: Re-design, re-adapt, transform, challenge, use -or decide not to use- other experiences, under the basis of local culture, context, resources, experience, knowledge, etc. Participatory programs should not be designed or modeled by foreign experiences, without sufficiently consideration to local history, culture, political tradition and the socio-economic structure. It is in the hands of local authorities and social organizations to decide a suitable course of action.

12 2. ‘Community engagement’ and participation leave practitioners with an unresolved question: Who is the community? (Who should participate: NGOs? Citizens? Social Leaders? Women? Etc) Practitioners play a key political role in calling for participation: Who? When? How? For what reason? After a law is passed or a policy implemented, the lower levels of ‘every-day decision makers’

13 3. Participatory programs do not make social conflict disappear. It reappears all the time in the form of discrimination or exclusion (women, young, poor, other religions, etc), but also in the different cultural capital of the citizens participating. This poses an every day challenge – not a problem- to civil servants in charge of managing these programs. One way of dealing with it, is training the staff in conflict management, but also human rights. 4. Participatory programs -by themselves- do not necessarily transform power relations, many times they reinforce existing asymmetries. It is both in the implementation (the ‘how’) and outside these plans where transformations can be produced (other social policies, distribution of resources, etc).

14 Thanks to IPA, but specially to all the amazing, brilliant, powerful and struggling women I have met here in Saudi Arabia.


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