President INTA at INTA35
Exit, Voice, Loyalty


Some words of conclusions from our President Budiarsa Sastrawinata

Our 35th annual Congress has come to an end last week, and I would like to make mine some words of our reporters of the Congress and to share with you some thoughts coming out of this 4-day event.

The issues that we have been discussing over the past few days are not new. They are the challenges that all communities face as they evolve and which must be met in the never-ending search for what we call « Quality of Life » said Roy Adams from London. Many people have referred to the global context in which we now live. Quite a few delegates have quoted world population figures and some to the threats posed to planet Earth by our burgeoning population and insatiable consumption of resources.


Until the 1960's people in the then-developed world usually did what they were told. Governments made laws, took decisions and agreed budgets for spending the monies raised by taxes, all for the good of the common man and woman. Today, « Participation » is no longer an added feature. It is a fundamental tenet of how things are done. And it is clear from the many examples quoted during the Congress that consultation is not just carried out when the proposals are in draft form and then stamped with the municipal or Government seal; people have to be involved in at least three stages:
-  in discussing and defining the issues;
- in discussing draft plans, ideas and proposals for resolving the issue;
- and in signing off on agreed plans and programmes.

There is no short-circuiting of this process. It is time-consuming and expensive, said Jean-Michel Evin from Grenoble Planning Agency, but it has three great advantages. Firstly, it is a means of harvesting ideas. Secondly, it encourages comment, positive and negative. Thirdly, it is the most effective means of achieving alignment, without which implementation and sustainability cannot be achieved.


We took this word to refer to alliances and identity in urban societies. Indeed, « identity » was probably the most-used word of the conference. From these analyses, it became clear that it is unrealistic to think that people can attach loyalty to a region or sub-region that does not have a natural geography. This may work for purposes of administration or budget allocation but it doesn't work for people. Loyalty is easiest to generate to a place: a village, a town, a community or a city, but not really an agglomeration of these things. As Robert Yaro from New York said intermediate cities need to enhance connections to what might be called the global gateway cities but must have local transit in economic development or else that connection will be lost.


The notion of « Exit » meant different things to different people. For some it meant social exclusion, which continues to be a serious problem in some cities, particularly those cities that have been subjected to high levels of inward migration from poorer countries. This too is an age-old problem but it is worth remembering that inward migration can be a rich source of ideas and energy; like learning, it is a matter of rate and degree - time and scale – in absorbing and using this energy said Maurice Charrier from Grand Lyon.

For others, « Exit » meant opting out, it could also refer to a conscious decision to opt out of some activities and opt-in to others; to move from old ideas and concepts to new perspectives. Not every city can be a global leader in bio-tech, green tech, or pharmaceuticals and so on. Therefore « Build on your strengths ». It is an old axiom, but it still has value. Breaking into new markets is easier through co-operation, especially for intermediate or smaller cities that do not have the financial or other capacities to do it alone.  For Marc Baietto from Grenoble Metropolitan intermediate cities need to develop strategies in collaboration with their local private sector, civic sector and educational institutions, etc..

The value of an INTA Congress is to be able to air and talk about these issues. We are all learning from each other. Although the intellectual theme was well chosen and the conference proceedings very well organised, the greater value lies in the informal discussions between delegates and hosts, particularly in providing access to political figures with whom contact would be much more difficult.

Once again, our thanks to the hosts in Lyon and Grenoble for facilitating these encounters and for all the participants for being part of this event.

Budiarsa Sastrawinata
President of INTA


Download the conclusions of the Congress by:
Jean-Michel Evin, Director of the Planning Agency of Grenoble Region
Roy Adams, Entity Partnership Director, UK

Download the report on the Congress done by La Metro (in French)


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