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The value of metropolitan solutions

Any de realizació: 2023

Equip:  Marc Martí-Costa (dir.), Cecilia Conde

Institució:  Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona

In October 2022, the Barcelona Metropolitan Area organized the international congress MetroSolutions, which promoted the conceptualization of “metropolitan solutions”. In May 2023, within the framework of the UN-Habitat congress, a specific workshop on conceptualization and characteristics of metropolitan solutions was organized, thus reinforcing this concept that was subsequently discussed at the general assembly of this organization held in Nairobi in June 2023. It is important to note that in this assembly it was decided to include a paragraph related to the metropolitan dimension in the resolution on “Location of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

This study aims to contribute to the knowledge generated around the concept of metropolitan solutions. It deepens and complements the definition of this concept, based on academic contributions from different disciplines. Based on this review, the study makes a specific proposal to the academic literature: five criteria are suggested to determine when a solution might really make more sense to develop at the metropolitan level. These criteria are:

  1. When they promote cooperation between actors from different local jurisdictions to solve joint challenges
    • Do metropolitan solutions address some of the existing problems of institutional fragmentation in urban areas? Do they foster trust between municipalities in the urban area and other actors? Do they reinforce existing metropolitan cooperation structures?
  2. When agglomeration economies facilitate
    • Do solutions recognize the benefits of agglomeration economies and encourage them? Do they take into account the possible diseconomies of agglomeration and limit them?
  3. When they produce improvements in the provision of public services
    • Do solutions at metropolitan level improve economies of scale or coordination of different municipal services?
  4. When they promote social and environmental justice in the metropolitan area as a whole
    • Do solutions take into account their effects in terms of social and environmental justice? Do they develop mechanisms to limit processes of segregation, gentrification, urban inequality and environmental injustice?
  5. When the efficiency and circularity of urban metabolism improve
    • Do the solutions incorporate a metabolic vision of the metropolitan area? Do they enable a reduction in the need for resources and improve their circularity within the urban system itself?

Secondly, this study aims to search, collect, systematize and analyze 11 examples and references of metropolitan solutions, solutions deployed by local and metropolitan governments around the world to address current global challenges; prioritizing those with a more obvious metropolitan dimension.