Discussing the Coproduction of Metropolitan Knowledge in Buenos Aires

by Michael Cohen and Margarita Gutman

On October 24, 2018, The Observatory on Latin America, together with the Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño, y Urbanismo of the Universidad de Buenos Aires and the City Government of Buenos Aires, organized a day long conference entitled “Aportes para el U20, Coproducción del Conocimiento en la Dimensión Metropolitana”, (Support for the U20, Coproduction of Metropolitan Knowledge).

The conference was designed to support the process of the Urban 20 (U20) – the 20 major cities of the G20 countries that met in Buenos Aires on October 29-30. The U20 approved a communiqué on urban issues that will be delivered to the Heads of State of the G20 in their summit in Buenos Aires on November 30 and December 1, 2018.

This will be the first time the Presidential Summit will consider urban issues.

The OLA-FADU event was attended by about four hundred people, including faculty, students, NGO representatives, and city government officials. Special invited guests included David Simon, Director of the Mistra Urban Futures Center in Gothenburg, Sweden, and Antonella Contin, Professor of Urban Planning in the Politecnico of Milan.

Oct 24 OLA FADU Aportes al U20_Mesa 2

The conference was opened by representatives from the Facultad de Arquitectura, the New School, and the Government of the City of Buenos Aires. The event was divided into two substantive sessions and a concluding session focused on next steps:

  • The first focused on the need to “co-produce” urban knowledge as the basis of urban policy, introduced by David Simon. Co-production of knowledge refers to the processes by which information and knowledge are created by multiple authors, stakeholders, and inputs. It implies integrating different methodologies, perspectives, technical and political logics, and timeframes. The commentators (Adriana Clemente, Alfredo Garay, Alvaro Garcia Resta) discussed conflicts exposed during these processes, such as between technical and political rationales and demands, thereby generating new insights about urban issues.
  • The second session started with the perspectives of the three organizing institutions: The New School, FADU, and the City Government in relation to priorities for government attention. Margarita Gutman presented recent thinking at The New School about the rationale for new urban practices and monitoring systems to assess city performance. David Kullok and Flavio Janches linked the three perspectives. It was followed by a presentation by Antonella Contin about an emerging “metropolitan discipline” that seeks to understand metropolitan issues from a broader more integrated approach including multi-scalar and territorial dimensions.  Commentators (Monica Giglio, Mora Arauz and Martin Motta) presented other approaches and projects addressing metropolitan issues from academia, NGOs and the city government.
  • A final session, chaired by Polo Jaimes from FADU, addressed the question of the messages of universities, civil society and government, to be communicated to the U20. Michael Cohen set the stage for this discussion with a critical summary of the day’s debates, followed by challenging comments by Enrique Garcia Espil, Eduardo Reese and Cristian Colombo. A dialogue between Guillermo Cabrera Dean of FADU and Cristian Colombo of the City Government of Buenos Aires closed the event.

The meeting was substantive and the efforts of the New School were recognized and welcomed by the Chair of the U20 Plenary Meeting on October 29, Fernando Straface, Secretary-General of International Affairs for the City Government of Buenos Aires.