Advancing Metropolitan Governance in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

City Profile:

Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, concentrating a population of 13.6 million people as in 2015. Buenos Aires is the financial, industrial, and commercial hub of Argentina. The economy in the city proper alone, measured by Gross Geographic Product totaled US$84.7 billion (US$34,200 per capita) in 2011.

Buenos Aires


Author:

Francisca M. Rojas is an urban development and housing specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Her areas of expertise include sustainable urban development, metropolitan urban governance, and the role of ICTs in urban management, transparency, and accountability. Previously she was research director and Post-doctoral Fellow with the Transparency Policy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was also a researcher at the MIT Senseable City Lab. In the public sector, Rojas has been an urban planner with the Washington D.C. Office of Planning and an advisor to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development in Chile. Francisca has a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from MIT, a Master’s Degree in city planning from MIT, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. She is currently based in the IDB Argentina country office and lives in Buenos Aires.

Abstract:

The Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (BAMA) is among the most populous and productive urban areas in Latin America. It comprises 13.6 million people and generates nearly half of Argentina’s GDP. It is also a highly fragmented metropolis, where its political-institutional structure assigns responsibilities for urban management and service delivery to the federal government, a state government, a capital city, and at least two dozen municipalities. There are existing metropolitan institutions that currently deal with waste management, watershed restoration, and the wholesale distribution of produce. But other critical areas that require coordination, like transportation and land use, have yet to be addressed. Traditionally, political differences between metropolitan decision-makers have been strong disincentives for coordinated action. But for the first time in decades, the 2015 election created a high level of political alignment between the federal government, provincial authorities, and a third of the metropolitan mayors. Among the signs of renewed interest in metropolitan governance is the establishment in 2016 of two new efforts to create more integrated metropolitan governance structures. Prior experience in Argentina indicates that in order for these coordinating bodies to be effective, they must quickly create a metropolitan action agenda that reflects the interests of municipal leaders, and clearly defines key investment projects with an explicit metropolitan impact.