|How to deal with conflicting interests?
|How to build consensus around the public interest?
|What is the role of institutions in the selection of objectives?
Construction in Belgrade is an area of numerous conflicts between social actors. Different actors have different interests, and so different expectations from the results of construction. Due to the cacophony of various voices which can be heard regarding each construction case, a lack of information and dialogue, the processes, procedures and causes of problems are often difficult to understand as a whole. So the spatial development of our cities is often presented as an area of conflict between polar opposites, shaped by specific perspectives from which different social groups act.
How should we understand the conflicts which arise and who might we expect to solve them? How should we act in the future so as to avoid conflict? And what is the role of the planners and the urbanists in all this?
Essentially, these conflicts are a consequence of the encompassing changes of the regulatory systems, which took effect after 2000 and indirectly, introducing the concept of managing public policies. The new concept of governance, contrary to the traditional concept of governance, acknowledges the legitimacy of interests and the opinions of social actors – interested parties, from all three sectors: public (state services, public enterprises), private (investor) and civil (citizens and citizens’ associations, civil society organizations, civil initiatives). From the aspect of urban development, as one of the public policies, adopting the concept of governance includes a change of the plan paradigm, and the acceptance of a collaborative approach to achieving spatial solutions. In a newly-created environment decisions are made through a public dialogue and synchronizing different interests in relation to the distribution of spatial resources. Conflicts are considered to be the center of the planning process, and communication as a tool for finding a way to overcome them.
A collaborative practice of planning is based on creating an arena for an argumented debate.
In order for that to be possible, it is necessary to make the understanding of the process of urban development available to all interested parties. The process of urban development, apart from the legal procedure of producing planning documents, includes a whole array of decisions made on different levels and sectors of governance. These decisions, regardless of their direct or indirect territorial determination, can have a key influence on the directions of spatial development. If they are made parallel through mutually unsynchronized processes, they eventually lead to a problem in spatial development.
This is why the process of development must be regarded in an integral way, with the consideration of developmental strategies in various aspects and levels of governance. An integral view of the process of spatial development is illustrated through five characteristic examples of construction in Belgrade. Apart from the chronological aspect of the process of creating planning documentation – the traditional planning process – various other events are taken into account, starting with the direct importance for the given example of construction:
- legislation – changes in the legal framework
- other changes of importance for the location
- reactions from citizens
- spatial manifestations
The chronological representation of collected information, structured according to the given categories, offers insight into the mutual dependence of decisions and consequentially, the changes towards spatial development. At the same time, insight is enabled into the structure of participants and their position in relation to the decisions made.
Collaborative planned practice is based on creating an arena for an argumented debate.
The aim of a public discussion “Collapse or Communication: urbanism of opposing interests” held on December 10 th 2019 at CZKD, created an arena for an argumented debate about the directions of urban development which would have the goal of contributing to the advancement of a system for planning and the planning practice in Serbia. As the first step in that effort, we’ve invited the representatives of interested parties from all three sectors, who we expect to give their insights from their perspectives and experiences, and point out the problems in Belgrade’s development, or rather the development of settlements and cities in Serbia.
The starting point for conversation are the changed conditions for spatial development which took effect after the democratic changes in 2000 with the switch to the market economy and adopting the principles of democratic dialogue. Regarding the planning system, that has brought about two key changes: a) establishing private ownership of land and b) pluralism of interests over the processes of spatial distribution or resources. However, even though these changes dramatically changed the logic of spatial development, the planning system, seen as a part of the entire regulatory system, hasn’t entirely followed suite, which is a consequence of numerous problems in the planning practice which we are witnessing today and ultimately the lack of trust in the institution of planning.
Several aspects of great interest to us in that context:
- What is the role of institutions in choosing development goals? How and with whom do they set their priorities?
- How to reach an agreement on opposing ideas regarding priorities? How to overcome conflicted interests?
- How to determine what public interest is?
The discussion about all these aspects, first of all aims at establishing a public arena for a mutual deliberation on the process of spatial development and the promotion of collaborative decision-making. The first step is to ask the participants to give answers to the following questions, from their perspective:
- How do you explain the conflicts which arise in the spatial development of Belgrade? What causes them? Is it unclear procedures, lack of information, lack of knowledge about the complexity of spatial development etc.?
- What do you see as possible ways of overcoming these problems?
The initial discussion is expected to shed light on different positions and views on the same issue of the invited participants.