United World Project


Co-governance: We all build the city

2 October 2021   |   Internazionale, ,

A second International Congress on Co-governance will be held on October 9 – 12, titled “Co-governance as a process of building fraternity in politics, starting with the cities”.


Have you ever thought about governing a city, of being a protagonist in the political decisions of your community? You probably asked yourself this question when you felt dissatisfied with a political situation or felt turned upside down by some injustice. Perhaps you have never asked yourself this question because it seems too out of your reach, or maybe you don’t like discussing politics because you are tired of being disappointed by the politicians in your country.

But this idea that politics is out of reach, is changing with the paradigm of Co-governance, that is, collaborative governance, in which everyone is called to become an agent of change in the society in which he and she lives.

The pandemic has shown us how interconnected and interdependent we are and that political decisions have some impact on everyone’s life. Therefore, regardless of one’s age, profession, or social class, all of us are citizens and therefore responsible for the present and the future of our cities. Co-governance proposes policy that is based on the relationships among individuals, institutions and organizations. It is a participatory government that aims at the common good.

In 2019, the United World Project launched its annual #DaretoCare campaign with the theme Active citizenship and politics for unity. This year’s proposal is called dare to take care of people, the planet and our ecological conversion, which is certainly political action. So, now more than ever we are being invited to be protagonists in social processes, and Co-governance is certainly a path of caring, and a path to a more united world.

The Congress

The Politics for Unity Movement (MPPU) together with the New Humanity Movement promotes the II International Co-governance Conference on the theme Co-governance as a process for building fraternity in politics, starting from the cities. We invited Sarah Gomes, an Anpecom and MPPU member to tell us more about the event.

Sarah, could you tell us what co-governance is, and the concept that lies behind this term?

First, I would like to start by saying that co-governance is a complex concept. We are still engaged in the construction of the concept, which is quite substantial. There is a scientific commission that reflects on this concept. What we have managed to outline thus far is that CO-GOVERNANCE is governing for the collectivity and being oriented towards the common good. Co means to rule with, so it involves a relationship. Co-governance also prepares this relationship which is a dialogue between all the social agents. So, we are all invited to co-govern. It is a dialogue among everyone in order to be able to implement public policies, to ensure that the management of the city works for the population and for the common good. So, basically, co-governance is this governing with. It is a co-responsibility to which we are invited.

One could think that this congress is only for people directly involved in politics. But the very idea of co-governance implies the importance of co-responsibility, that it concerns everybody who would like to change their cities into better and more just places to live. So, Sarah, who can take part in the conference on co-governance?

Everyone can take part, from those who are interested to those who say they don’t want to talk about politics but want to make a difference in their cities or are already making a difference without even talking about politics – they can all take part in this congress: city managers, mayors, commissioners, government officials and everyone involved in public life: medical care workers, engineers, architects, political scientists. Then there are the ordinary citizens – it’s all of us.

What are the topics that will be discussed, and what should we expect from this congress?

The theme of the congress will be co-governance as a process for building fraternity in politics, beginning with the cities. We’ll discuss three main topics. The first will be how fraternity can build co-governance, which is the main theme of the congress. Then, there will be two panel, the first on public institutions and civil society, cooperation, and dialogue for the common good, and the second panel on fraternal economy sustainability and public economies.

We can expect to see debates among presenters, but also small group meetings where people can discuss things with each other. It will be quite interesting because we’ll be all together – administrators and ordinary citizens, all of us talking about what we can to improve our city, how we can govern our city. So, I think it will be very enriching because it will be an opportunity for all of us took each other in the eye and build something together.

How can a person sign up? And what will the modality be?

Lit will be online. So, everyone can go to the international online site, just type in “Co-governance” and you’ll find the registration form to be filled out.

What is the program for the four days? What will be highlighted in this second edition?

This edition will highlight the Latin American point of view because we’ll be in Brazil. Therefore, we’ve invited all of our Latin American MPPU networks, the New Humanity Movement, and other organizations with whom we share a relationship of collaboration, so that we will be able to articulate the program from the viewpoint of all the countries that comprise Latin America and will share reports and examples of best practices.

In many countries, current polarization, uncertainties, and political dissatisfactions have become quite a challenge when it comes to the city and the nation. Sarah, in your opinion, is politics for all really possible?

Yes, it’s possible first of all because it starts from what we believe in, from what we take for granted as our ideal. I start from this assumption that politics is for everyone because we are all political beings, every action we take is political. All our actions at home, our relationships, our actions outside the home, in society. This network of relationships is politics. Politics is for everyone, there is no getting out of it. That’s why this invitation to co-govern is getting stronger, because if we are political beings, we are always called to co-govern, because whatever action I take, if I throw the garbage on the street instead of throwing it in the dumpsters, I am contributing to the pollution of my city, and not to the well-being of my city. So, these small actions are political actions, so politics is for everyone.