ABSTRACT The aim of this paper is not to open a debate on the various meanings of governance and urban governance, nor to discuss in depth the relevance of integrated urban policy strategies. Its starting point is to explain why these ‘new urban policies’ are placed on political agendas and how they contribute to the transformation of the urban government system and to the implementation of urban governance. This paper has arisen from two basic questions. The first question concerns the variety of definitions of these concepts and the ways in which they well up in the context of elaborating and implementing public policy. The second question looks specifically at the relationships holding between integrated policies of urban development and systems of urban regulation and governance. It seeks to render explicit the construction of urban governance by analysing the process of co-operation among the various agents at work in the city.