Sebastião M.F. Bhatt

Sebastião M.F. Bhatt is a PhD candidate in I.C.S.-University of Lisbon, and guest researcher at TU Delft. His research project entitled “Urban Governance under conditions of Globalization: Governance of large and medium-sized Urban Projects in the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon” is supervised by João Seixas (ICS-UL) and Roberto Rocco (TU Delft). Sebastião’s doctoral research is granted by FCT, the Science and Technology Foundation of Portugal.

Sebastião’s research interests are: Cities and Globalisation; Metropolitan and Urban Governance; Urban Projects, Local Development and Sustainability; Public Participation in Urban Planning; Strategic Urban and Regional Planning.

While focused on urban governance under the complex challenges of globalisation, Sebastião’s research aims to examine the role of different urban actors (public sector, private sector and civil society) involved in the implementation of large and medium sized Urban Projects  – in their ways of interaction, strategies and power relations. In fact, emerging risks of fragmentation and unsustainability are being often highlighted demanding the urgent need for an adequate governance approach based on integrated, multilevel, participatory, efficient and accountable responses.

 

Below you can read Sebastião’s research Problem Statement and Research Questions

 

Urban Governance under conditions of Globalization: The governance of large and medium-sized urban projects in the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon

PhD Candidate: Sebastião M.F. Bhatt

Supervisors:

Dr. João Seixas ICS University of Lisbon

Dr. Roberto Rocco, Chair of Spatial Planning and Strategy, TU Delft

 

 

Problem Statement

The current international economic context has revealed the increasing “territorialisation” of flows and transnational processes at the level of cities and metropolitan regions, with significant socio-economic, spatial and institutional consequences.

Urban (local and regional) governments are facing new challenges derived from this process, with different arrays of actors, strategies and resources involved in increasingly complex processes of implementation and management. Clearly, an adequate governance approach is needed based on an integrated, multilevel, participatory, efficient and accountable response from local authorities towards the challenges generated by a globalising economy.

In this context, large and medium-sized Urban Projects have been systematically introduced and conceptualized as instruments for the regeneration and development of cities, especially projects built on strong public-private partnerships. However, after the implementation of such projects, emerging risks of social, spatial and institutional fragmentation have been frequently highlighted.

For that reason, there is a strong need to assess and monitor the results of implemented Urban Projects considering their initial strategic objectives. The governance processes of such projects have acquired particular relevance in the understanding of the role of different urban actors (public sector, private sector and civil society) – in their ways of interaction, strategies and power relations. The understanding of these processes is crucial for the definition of horizontal and vertical cooperation and critical in the course of implementation of an urban project. In fact, in a wider scope, the achievements of an urban regime often depend on such relationship networks.

Thus, the current research aims to analyse a number of relevant large and medium-sized urban projects in the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon, and to compare them to international examples, in order to better understand and reveal their governance processes. This will help us answer whether the governance model of Urban Projects under conditions of globalization is promoting socio-spatial and institutional cohesion in the city or if, paradoxically, it is creating fragmentation, unsustainability and unfair distribution of resources.

In this way, adopting the methodology of case studies, this research intends to critically analyse the governance models implemented in three Urban Projects in metropolitan ​​Lisbon, examining their goals and discursive framework, the intervention model and the strategy of their actors embedded in multilevel networks.  Moreover, the research will enable us to study the outcomes of the projects in terms of social, economic and spatial cohesion and sustainability.

The answer to the research questions will help to shed light on the strategic role and configurations of the governance actors understood in their multilevel and multi-sectoral embedding, in the implementation of the Urban Projects and on the definition of a set of critical and operative parameters that will allow similar projects to promote urban cohesion, accountability and social, economic and environmental sustainability.

 

Research Questions

Considering the challenges of globalization and the intensity of its expression in the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon, is the Governance Model of Urban Projects – large or medium scale – promoting social, spatial and institutional cohesion in the city or, paradoxically, contributing to its fragmentation?

• What is the structure and dynamics of the urban project governance and how is it, in turn, embedded in the wider urban and metropolitan governance?

• What role do the relationships and strategies of actors (multisectoral and multilevel) play in the implementation of urban projects in the case study and what is their propensity for future action?

• Do the resulting socio-spatial and institutional outcomes indicate a pattern of social, spatial and institutional cohesion and sustainability or, on the contrary, a pattern of urban fragmentation?

• Do the arrangements and relational configurations of governance actors reveal the formation of a new urban regime?

• What recommendations and operative parameters can be formulated in order to provide the governance structure with efficient instruments to promote a cohesive and sustainable urban space and to improve the accountability of actors delivering urban projects?


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