New working methods for better cooperation, Gothenburg, Sweden
In order to avoid compartmentalised working processes within local government, the Mayor of Gothenburg took on an initiative to restructure the city council from separate, siloed areas (environment, health, education, transport, housing, etc.) toward a more interdisciplinary approach across three clusters: economic, environmental, and social, corresponding to three sustainable dimensions of governance.
When the former Mayor of Gothenburg took office in 2009, she soon realised that work was being carried out in silos between administrations, politicians and local government officials. The greatest challenge was therefore to find ways to knock down the walls between them for better cooperation.
Good practices & solutions
The political leadership was convinced that the cooperation had to be carried out across different areas of expertise and between politicians and officials, and that this had to be incorporated into existing systems. The idea was to restructure the city council’s way of working from separate, siloed areas (environment, health, education, transport, housing, etc.) toward a more interdisciplinary approach across three clusters: economic, environmental, and social, corresponding to three sustainable dimensions of governance. The overarching aim was that this would lead to a more holistic policymaking approach and more innovative strategies, policies, and plans.
Even if collaboration across different areas of expertise can initially take longer, the political leadership was convinced that it would lead to better and more sustainable decisions in the long run. Hence, they decided to literally tear down the walls between different areas of expertise, and instead work along the abovementioned sustainability clusters.
Outcome & opportunities
This new arrangement created an agreement on the direction for the most important issues. Subsequently, it was decided that the municipal commissioners were responsible for one issue, however in collaboration across the different areas of expertise and with the other clusters. The clusters were tasked to resolve upcoming issues, but to debate the question beyond their specific area of expertise. This led for example to environmental issues not merely being discussed as green issues, but was also put on the agenda in the traffic committee.
Lessons learned & recommendations
Success factors identified in this project include the development of a multi-partisan and multi-sector cooperation, the breaking down of barriers and creation of clusters, as well as the ability to priorities and clarify.
Related SDG targets
- 17.14. Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development
Project: Nordic Urban Ways