Global Local Think Tank Review: May 2022

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Global challenges, local solutions

Your monthly review of the latest local government research and policy from leading think tanks around the world. This roundup is only available with a Global Local Subscription – available to LGIU corporate members and to individual Global Local subscribers.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

This month’s edition focuses on recent elections in Europe, as well as the housing crisis in Australia. It also includes reports covering governance, municipal finance, healthcare, and infrastructure.

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Elections

5th May saw local elections take place across the United Kingdom. In advance of this, Centre for Cities published a briefing covering key information about metro mayors, in conjunction with three policy priorities for the new South Yorkshire Metro Mayor. These include improving the educational attainment of young people, franchising the bus system, and facilitating growth in Sheffield’s city centre. Read the briefing here.

In addition, City Mayors Foundation have published a guide on how local government works in England with a focus on directly elected mayors.

Also published in advance of the local elections, the Electoral Reform Society commissioned Professor Sir John Curtice to analyse the 2017 local election results in Scotland and look ahead to the 2022 results, focusing on the single transferable vote (STV) proportional voting system which was introduced in 2007. It found that the electorate has embraced this form of voting, and voters are able to shape the outcome of an election much more than under the first-past-the-post system used for Westminster elections. Read the analysis here.

The French presidential election took place in April. The City Mayors Foundation have analysed the voting patterns in different cities and towns, and found that large cities voted overwhelmingly for Macron, whereas small-town, more rural France supported Le Pen. Their analysis includes a breakdown of how cities and large towns voted.

Image: istock

Housing

In Australia, like many other countries, housing is becoming more and more unaffordable. A new report by PerCapita explores the reasons why this has happened, demonstrating that housing costs are reaching crisis point for too many Australians. The report highlights a number of principles that need to underpin housing policy, which include shelter as a fundamental human right, and that access to good quality, secure housing plays a significant role in determining health and wellbeing.

Similarly, The Australia Institute have published a report about housing affordability, arguing the need to draw on Nordic examples of housing. It brings together three essays from experts on both Australian and Nordic social policy, and includes case studies on co-operative housing and homelessness policies in Nordic countries. Read it here.

The UK is also facing a housing crisis. The Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) has identified the potential for small, community-based organisations to deliver new homes for people in need. The report shows that these organisations can work well in meeting local needs, but need support from larger organisations and funders.

Tiny House Transitional village in Eugene Oregon. Emerald Village square one housing. A community of colourful tiny houses being built to help transition the homeless community.


Governance

In April, the governor of Florida rescinded Disney’s self-governing authority as a special district, a category of local government in the US. The Bill will come into effect in 2023 and will eliminate Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, as well as others ran by the company. Special districts are the fastest-growing form of government in the US, and an analysis from The Brookings Institution shows how this decision will hurt surrounding communities. Read more here.

According to Metropolis, we need to work on a metropolitan scale to help solve problems facing the dwellers of major cities. Using the example of La Ciutat Cooperativa, found on the outskirts of Barcelona, the key role of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB) is highlighted in the area’s neighbourhood revitalisation project. Most major cities around the world do not have a metropolitan authority or plan, and this article argues why it is important.

The Conference on the Future of Europe took place in April, as an attempt to amplify EU citizens’ voices. However, a study from the European Policy Centre in partnership with the Bertelsmann Stiftung examines all the existing citizen participation instruments in the EU. It finds that although they have a lot of potential, most are unknown and ineffective. The study argues in favour of building a comprehensive participation infrastructure across the EU through cultural change, better communication and utilising digital potential. Read the report here.

Town hall of Tarragona

Transport and infrastructure

Electrifying public transport is key to decarbonising urban mobility. The Rocky Mountain Institute have used Pune in India as a case study on public transport electrification, as the city in Maharashtra is a leading early adopter of e-buses. The report is an example of good practice in policy support, business model design and infrastructure planning, that aims to enable e-bus adoption in Indian cities.

From the International Growth Centre, there is a new study utilising community leaders to improve the public pricing of land titles in Tanzania. Focusing on Kimara ward in Dar es Salaam, the report explains how informal institutions can be utilised to raise land formalisation, something the government has been working towards since the 1999 Land Act. Read the report here.

The 15-minute city [IW1] is a city where residents can reach daily necessities within a short walk or bike ride from their homes, and the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) have published a short briefing all about it. Core elements of a 15-minute city are that the rhythm of the city should follow humans not cars, and the neighbourhood should be designed in a way so people do not need to commute. The briefing also includes an evaluation of 20-minute neighbourhoods in Portland, USA and Melbourne, Australia.

Walkability across the US is highly racialised, according to the Urban Institute. Communities of colour live in less walkable areas with fewer street lights and higher speed limits. A new feature expands the definition of walkability beyond infrastructure to emphasise equity, including an interactive resource looking at walkability in Washington DC. The research also includes ways policymakers can holistically improve a city’s walkability. Read it here.


Welfare and economy

The Basic Income Conversation, supported by think tank Compass, have published the outcome of their research into the London Solidarity Funds in the UK and how that links to basic income. It shows that it is possible to set up systems comparable to a basic income at a grassroots level, even if the funds were not a true basic income. Read the report here.

The City of Winnipeg, in Canada, is at a crossroads after two decades of austerity and two pandemic years. As a result, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has created an Alternative Municipal Budget for 2022, co-written by 27 authors from 18 community organisations. It presents a renewed vision for Winnipeg, based around community approaches to safety, poverty reduction, truth and reconciliation and protecting the environment.

In Ireland, the Project 2040 governmental strategy  falls short when it comes to regional disparities, according to the Centre for Cross Border Studies. The report says the strategy lacks an all-island perspective, particularly because growth in the north-west and Borders region is strongly contingent on growth within Northern Ireland. Read more here. (See our original LGIU briefing on Project 2040)


Image by Zack Davidson from Pixabay

Health

The C.D. Howe Institute argues in a new report that Canadian health policymakers should look to the Dutch model of healthcare, as progress on modernising Canadian healthcare delivery remains slow. The Netherlands is a good example of how managed competition can promote efficiency while preserving universality and equitable cost sharing.

In the US, the National Partnership for Women & Families has made the case for community birth settings to improve maternity care in the country. More people die per capita from pregnancy and childbirth in the US than in any other high-income country. The report includes various recommendations for federal, state and territorial policymakers such as expanding the use of midwives, as well as recommendations for the private sector.

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