"Sometimes it can be very difficult to access decision-making processes regarding urban development"
What is IPoP about?
IPoP is a non-governmental, consulting and research organisation in the field of sustainable spatial and urban development. We focus on participatory processes, urban regeneration, sustainable mobility, and new spatial practices. We try to connect NGOs and local initiatives and offer them professional support and information; conduct research, carry out studies, advise on project development, and help form partnerships; lead participatory processes; train for participation in spatial planning; engage in policy making and strive for better legislation with an impact on spatial development; disseminate information about sustainable spatial and urban development and react to topical issues.
IPoP is registered as an NGO acting in the public interest in the field of the environment.
Projects and initiatives.
Refugees for Co-Creative Cities is an international project for improving urban spaces together with refugees. The initiative brings together engineers, refugees, artists and locals to improve private and public spaces. These places are afterwards used as long-term accommodations for refugees and as spaces where locals and refugees can interact. Through this process, refugees make cities better and are becoming a vital part of their new local communities.
New Ideas For Old Buildings focuses on improving public property management in order to help municipalities increase real estate occupancy through public participation.
The project focuses on 7 towns from 6 countries from the Baltics to the Balkans (Latvia, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia & Montenegro) which are facing economic and social decline. They are motivated to find solutions to revitalise their towns and enhance the quality of life. The project aims to increase public involvement in decision-making processes of public property management and sustainable urban development.
Jane’s walks Coordinator Slovenia
With annual organisation of ‘urban walks’ in the framework of the global Jane’s Walk initiative IPoP advocates for the benefits of utility walking in Slovenia. Jane’s Walk is a movement of free, citizen-led walking tours inspired by Jane Jacobs. The walks get people to tell stories about their communities, explore their cities, and connect with neighbours. Together with local partners, IPoP has managed to initiate 73 walks thus far in different towns and cities across Slovenia, engaging at least 1400 interested walkers and making important contributions towards an acknowledgement of the benefits of everyday utility walking. The walks aim to raise awareness about the importance of walking for daily errands and the role of the citizen in spatial planning as well as to promote local community building. The discussions during the walks result in recommendations for spatial improvements.
Walking Festival is the first festival in Slovenia, designed exclusively for the promotion of walking and often overlooked form of sustainable mobility. The festival has been organised by IPoP in collaboration with the Cultural Association prostoRož and other partners, with the support of the Municipality of Ljubljana – European Green Capital 2016.
“Green cities encourage walking as the main form of sustainable mobility, because they contribute to the quality of the physical and social environment and has also positive effects on the economy and health. Walking is the most accessible way of moving around the city, a good impact on the business pulse to development of marketing and service activities in the village, particularly on the state of the environment. This well proven by the revival of the city center of Ljubljana with a gradual restriction of vehicular traffic.” (IPoP-Institute for Spatial Policies)
URBACT III National Point
Institute for spatial policies is the National URBACT Point (NUP) for Slovenia. As NUP we are communicating on the URBACT programme and informing potential beneficiaries, disseminating programme results to urban practitioners and policy‐makers at local, regional, national and EU level, with a specific emphasis on reaching out to urban players outside the URBACT community, enhancing the dialogue between local, regional and national authorities on sustainable integrated urban policies and supporting the URBACT Secretariat in enhancing capacities of urban practitioners and policymakers in designing and delivering integrated and participatory urban policies.
URBACT is a know-how programme that promotes exchange and learning between cities. URBACT’s mission is to enable cities to work together and develop integrated solutions to common urban challenges by networking, learning from one another’s experiences, drawing lessons and identifying god practices to improve urban policies.
What role do you have in the organisation?
Formally, I am a researcher, also working on NGO and consulting tasks. I spend most of the time as the contact person for the National URBACT Point for Slovenia. In addition to that, I am engaged with other projects in fields like sustainable mobility, urban regeneration and cohesion policy. To give an example, this week I have been working on a report for the Festival of walking (an event we organised as part of our Jane’s walk activities to promote daily walking – to school, work and to do the errands). Also, I have been contributing in a study on financial instruments in Slovenia, giving advice to Slovene cities on an URBACT call for applications and collecting good practices on common management of – what we call – vital resources.
How is it organised financially and administratively?
IPoP is a private institute and has no guaranteed public funding. We apply for projects and tenders, on the local, national and the European level and join consortiums for studies for the DG Regio and the European Commission.
Regarding the internal organisation, the IPoP team is very diverse – we are trained in architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning as well as geography and sociology. At the moment, everyone working at IPoP has a fixed contract, which I think is very valuable to maintain the feeling of social security in a field where this is not as common as in some other sectors.
Relationship of initiators with the local community, institutions and corporations or business sectors.
IPoP is coordinating a national network of NGOs active in the field of spatial planning/spatial and urban development. Also, we are acting as a promoter of collaborative spatial practices. The organisation is involved with public institutions – municipalities, ministries, universities – as some are our project partners, but mostly they are our clients.
What kind of challenges/obstacles do you encounter as a City Maker?
Considering the broad network of City-Makers we have contact with in Slovenia, I think the two greatest challenges we all encounter are financial sustainability and access to decision-making processes. As in all other fields, NGOs active in the field of spatial and urban planning are continuously under pressure to ensure stable funds and maintain jobs.
For years, we have been actively promoting public participation in the field of spatial and urban development and in the meantime it is becoming obligatory in most of the processes, but in practice the progress is very slow. There are still important decisions made by either the cities and municipalities or the national authorities that do not involve citizens or do it only to meet the formal criteria.
Although we are – in contrast to the general public – professionally engaged to contribute to public discussions and policies, we are very often excluded from decision-making processes.
Does IPoP have any kind of future plans?
IPoP wants to strengthen the role of NGOs and initiatives active in spatial and urban development and ensure their involvement in decision-making processes and promote collaborative spatial practices as an alternative way to manage vital resources – there will be a conference on that topic scheduled on the 17th of June at 09:00 at The Lev hotel where representatives of municipalities, cooperatives, companies, NGOs and civil initiatives, policy makers will gather to discuss different community projects at the local and national levels.