International learning with Realising Just Cities

Realising Just Cities conference logo, superimposed on an image of Cape Town, South Africa

The Realising Just Cities programme is supporting peer learning visits to Cape Town and Barcelona for public sector strategists and community practitioners from Greater Manchester, to expand their knowledge of co-productive practices and participatory democracy in other urban settings.


Cape Town is the destination for the 2018 Realising Just Cities conference. Each year, Mistra Urban Futures researchers come together to compare findings and learn about initiatives with the potential to support UN sustainable development goals. The programme includes field trips, and the opportunity for intensive discussion of best practice in urban governance. This year’s conference has a particular focus on co-production, making it an ideal learning opportunity for those exploring ways to embed co-production in Greater Manchester’s governance.

Later in November, Barcelona is hosting a global get-together for the International Observatory for Participatory Democracy. The conference has three thematic strands--direct democracy, citizen initiative, and ecosystems of inclusive democracy. Thanks to Mistra funding, RJC researchers Beth Perry and Bertie Russell will be joined by Alice Toomer - McAlpine and Katie Finney (co-leads for Jam and Justice’s GM Decides action research project), and running a collaborative workshop on co-producing the city. The goal is to share insights from Greater Manchester and identify new lessons from other conference delegates.

GMCA strategist David Rogerson is joining both trips as an observer. Katie Finney will be representing Jam and Justice Action Research Collective in Cape Town, as well as co-facilitating the Barcelona workshop.

Beth Perry, Realising Just Cities’ UK lead, said

“The Realising Just Cities programme is based on the idea of co-production from cradle to grave. That doesn’t mean doing everything together all the time; it does mean working together to blend expertise across different sectors and organisations. It’s really important to us to open up knowledge exchange beyond the academy. We can achieve the most change by creating spaces for decision-makers to learn, not by dropping heavy reports on their desk. That’s why we are supporting peer learning through these international visits”

Katie Finney added 

“I’m looking forward to putting what Jam and Justice is doing into a bigger context, seeing how it fits alongside other international work on co-production. And I’m aiming to share some of my learning with the Action Research Collective and others on Twitter. Watch out for #CoProduceGM!”