Barcelona, Spain's second largest city, stands out as one of the cities with the oldest legacy of strategic planning in the world with an experience of over 30 years. The year 1987, when it was entitled as the host city of 1992 Olympics, was a breaking point for the city in terms of planning. Pla Estratègic Metropolità de Barcelona (PEMB - Barcelona Metropolitan Strategic Plan Institution), which was established as an autonomous structure right after this year, has been preparing strategic plans for different periods of the city for the last 32 years. PEMB, which has many stakeholders such as the University of Barcelona, non-governmental organizations, professional associations and think tanks, has designed five different plans since 1988 and is currently preparing the sixth plan targeting the year of 2030.
The main focus of the 2030 targeted strategic plan, which is started to be prepared in 2020, is defined as ensuring economic and social development through innovation and sustainability. The primary target of the current plan is specified as reducing inequality and segregation in the metropolis. It also aims to develop projects for the city’s one of the major problems i.e. affordable housing.
As Vision 2050 Office, we listened TO Oriol Estela Barnet, PEMB General Coordinator, about their strategic planning experience in Barcelona; discussed about how they adapted their approach in light of the lessons they learned. Barnet explained his current approach in his presentation as follows:
⦁ It would be much more efficient if land-use plans and strategic plans would be prepared in coordination even if they are prepared by different units. For this reason, a coordinated work with the Barcelona 2030 Strategic Plan is being carried out for Barcelona land-use plan, which has not been renewed since 1976.
⦁ The vision, that is similar to other cities’ “model projects” and aims at continuous growth, has been abandoned. Instead, an approach focusing on determining the most appropriate and original plans for the city's own authenticity and opportunities was embraced.
⦁ Instead of bold “model” projects determined in a top-down manner, practical projects that envisage bottom-up organization, idea-sharing and participation are adopted.
⦁ The vision that focuses on final products is abandoned. Instead new methods focusing on the processes and the results of those processes are applied.
⦁ While the focus was on a small number of large stakeholders in the past, all kinds of networks and all relevant stakeholders are now being involved in the process. In the administrative sense, the “strong governance” approach is abandoned and a consensus-based governance that accepts “togetherness” of very different political views and identities, which is defined as “blurred”, is preferred.
⦁ Today, unlike the past, there is a fragmented political map in which many large and small political parties govern different districts of Barcelona. Although the management of such a large and complex political network is more difficult compared to the past, it is underlined that this process is more democratic and that democratic rule is preferred over strong government.