City Challenges: Collaborative Governing for Public Problem Solving

By Beth Simone Noveck and Dinorah Cantú-Pedraza. Originally posted on Forbes.

DesafiosSP: An Experiment in Collaborative Urban Governance

City Councilmember Graciela Reyes was elected as one of Mexico’s first independent councillors for the Municipality of San Pedro, an affluent mid-sized community of about 150,000 outside the Mexican city of Monterrey about two hours from Texas. With the backing of the Mayor, Reyes launched the Desafíos or Challenges program on October 8, 2016 to invite the public to collaborate in the creation of better policies and services with the municipality. Uncharacteristically, these forward-thinking politicians were willing to say, “we don’t have all the answers” and tap into the intelligence and expertise of their own community to do better.

Among the questions posed to the public was how to reduce the time kids spent driving to school in San Pedro.

As the most urbanized region of the planet, Latin America’s cities are growing rapidly — too rapidly to ensure effective mobility. The Monterrey region is no different. The residents of San Pedro, who own 1.34 cars per inhabitant, were spending more and more time in traffic, including its school children, 85 percent of whom were driven to school individually, taking a significant toll on health (the World Health Organization reported Monterrey has the most polluted air in Mexico) and economic productivity.

Thus, the municipality (with the help of Codeando Mexico and the GovLab) asked its community to help solve the mobility crisis and three other urgent urban challenges, including how to reduce pollution; improve government efficiency; and enhance public spaces.

Read the full article here.