ISSJ - N° 172 - Urban Partnerships

June 2002

During the summit meeting on cities known as Habitat II, organized in Istanbul in June 1996, a central question was how cities of the twenty-first century can develop new conceptual and strategic instruments for economic development while meeting the need for social solidarity and political participation. The concept of partnership was repeatedly invoked in this regard -- partnership between central government and local authorities, between the public sector and private firms managing urban services, and also among municipalities, government services and local associations working against exclusion. But what are the conditions and the price of partnership?

In order to respond to this question, the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and UNESCO’s Programme on Management of Social Transformations (MOST) brought together social scientists, researchers and urban practitioners from Africa, America, Asia and Europe in Paris in November 1997. The present issue of the ISSJ is based on the discussions at that meeting. The articles show that partnerships are complex systems, with considerable potential but at the same time full of unexpected traps for the unwary.

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