Public participation has been promoted in the field of urban planning and development for many decades, yet there is no consensus on its impact on planning processes or how participatory approaches influence the results of planning. This is due to a number of problems inherent to the very concept of participation. Very rarely is participation enacted as co-decision-making; instead, it usually ranges from information-sharing to consultation and advising. While public input may be useful on these levels, the question of how to engage the public without using participation as an illusion of power-sharing remains.
A promising step towards increasing the impact of participatory processes on spatial planning and development is to design them with interdisciplinary teams who recognize the gaps that naturally exist between expert and lay understanding of a given problem. Planning teams that reflect these differences can help to incorporate local and community assets into planning and development processes.
This conference focused on socio-spatial concepts in interdisciplinary approaches to planning, on interdisciplinary and participatory approaches in different fields of community development, and on various approaches to implementing governance in processes of interdisciplinary and socio-spatial urban planning.